I started learning the violin aged 10 because a music teacher at my school (in the days when Primary Schools had specialist music teachers!) suggested it. I gave up the violin and took up the guitar 3 years later when being in a band was an act of rebellion – I had three objectives: play like Jimmy Page, get girls, piss my Mum off. I don’t know if I achieved any of those to my 13-year-old satisfaction. So I’ve spent most of my life playing music or listening to music or writing music or just whistling, and I’ve made and learnt from an awful lot of mistakes.
In the beginning, I played in bands that played glam rock, hard rock, pub rock, punk rock, ska, psycho-billy, and then, I guess, indie. I decided that I really couldn’t be bothered with bands just at the moment that technology invented cheap 4-track machines, and then synthesisers, samplers and sequencers and suddenly I was able to have any sound I wanted (subject to sample memory and budget). Around that time (the early Nineties) I also went to the London International Film School to learn how to write to picture. The films I scored there were shot on film and edited on Steenbeck machines like this one:
In the Outside World, I think the actual film industry was moving quickly to computers, but I learned to score to picture – I would guess I was the last man through that door, like the last chimney sweep or a handwriting consultant. Anyway, I can write music that fits the actual film.
Here are some films that you should know are my favourite scores (and I’ll go into these at some time later):
|Vertigo||1958||Alfred Hitchcock||Bernard Herrmann|
|Anatomy of a Murder||1959||Otto Preminger||Duke Ellington|
|The Ipcress File||1965||Sidney J Furie||John Barry|
|Bullitt||1968||Peter Yates||Lalo Schifrin|
|Get Carter||1971||Mike Hodges||Roy Budd|
|Blade Runner||1982||Ridley Scott||Vangelis|
|The Thing||1982||John Carpenter||Ennio Morricone|
|Paris, Texas||1984||Wim Wenders||Ry Cooder|
|Road to Perdition||2002||Sam Mendes||Thomas Newman|
|Solaris||2002||Steven Soderbergh||Cliff Martinez|
|Zodiac||2007||David Fincher||David Shire|
|Moon||2009||Duncan Jones||Clint Mansell|
|The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo||2011||David Fincher||Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross|
|Ex Machina||2014||Alex Garland||Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow|
|Macbeth||2015||Justin Kurzel||Jed Kurzel|
These are scores that, in my humble opinion, stand up as musical work with and without the pictures. They’re on my iPod and I listen to them all regularly as I go about my daily whatever-it-is-I-do.
My elevator pitch before the Millennium was this: I can write music to the film you’ve shot – when our hero goes bump, the music goes bump. I’ll write music inspired by those wildebeest migrating across the Serengeti, I’ll do research because I feel the same way about your Stonehenge film that you do.
But the real truth is that the films I want to score are the ones where I can comfort and disturb in equal measure, and that means thriller, psychological drama, horror.
To answer your question, though. Why should you listen to me? Because I’ve spent the required 10,000 hours playing music, 10,000 hours listening to music, 10,000 hours watching films (often in the dark in a cinema) and that makes me an expert, apparently. I’m as surprised as you.