Viviana Ferreira made this great inteview with film music composer Tyler
Bates ("300,", "Watchmen"), whose music possesses a timbre of its own,
attracting visionary filmmakers who aim to make distinctive films with
commercial appeal. Enjoy!
Viviana Ferreira - When did
you really realized that you wanted to be a composer?
Tyler Bates - I moved back to my hometown Los Angeles in 1993, to write
songs with and produce recording artists. In the process, I was offered the
opportunity to score a low-budget film that led to fifteen within three years.
Though my band, Pet, had signed a record deal with Atlantic Records, the
experience of scoring "The Last Time I Committed Suicide", for director Stephen
Kay, that I seriously considered my long-term goals as a musician and composer.
After touring for a couple of years, I missed writing and recording music on a
daily basis more than performing live for audiences around the continent. Once
we returned from our final tour of 1997, I decided to place my energy towards
film music, and learning everything I could about filmmaking altogether. There
was no turning back for me at that point.
VF - How was the beginning of your career as a film composer?
TB - The beginning of my career was a bit stressful due to my lack of
experience in the film business and also not knowing myself as a film
composer the way I knew myself as a songwriter and musician. It took me
fifteen films before I did a respectable score that truly represented who I
was as an artist at the time. I have had many ups and downs along the way
but overall, I really love the collaborative process with the great people I
have been fortunate enough to work with over the years. I still feel like I
am at the beginning of my career.
VF - In addition to your work as a film composer, how was the experience
band called Pet, that you formed with songwriter Lisa Papineau?
TB - There were many great things about the Pet experience. It really made
me understand what I wanted from music as a whole. Lisa Papineau and I had
an intense chemistry as creative partners, which at times, was really
exciting. We both grew a great deal from that time in our lives. Lisa sang
on my score for "Watchmen," which led us to begin writing songs together
again. We are very close to completing our first new body of work together.
It's very different than the music we used to play together, and we are now
able to enjoy the process of creating music together much more than we used
VF - In 2004 you composed the soundtrack to "Dawn of the Dead", attracting the
attention of fans (of this type of film) and critics. Since then you've
been composing more scores for this type of movie. What is your inspiration when
you go to compose a soundtrack of thriller/ horror movies?
TB - The director's vision for the film is the initial aspect that guides me
when developing the concept for a score, especially in genre-oriented films.
The textural quality of the film and the style of how various scenes are
framed by the cinematographer are very telling of the director's style, which is generally better information than discussing specific scores or
songs. The actors in the character roles also determine the color palette to
some extent. For example, in Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects," the film
quality is grainy, and much of the blue hues were removed from the film,
creating a dominance in earth tones, which suggested to me that the music
reflect the hot and dusty environment of the day time exterior sequences.
With that, I worked with distressed analogue sounds that were created in my
studio. The goal was to make the music as much an extension of the film
itself as possible. The perverse nature of the filmıs characters and their
dialogue opened the door for creating extremely disturbing sounds within the
context of their natural environment.
- You often work with director Zack Snyder... composing the music for 'Dawn
of the Dead," "300," "Watchmen"... what you have to say about your patnership
with him at these
TB - I can't say enough about how much I enjoy working with Zack and the
entire team of people he has put together over the years. We are all very
serious about our work, yet we all have a great time even in the most
stressful time constraints. Zack has instilled a culture of artistry and
experimentation as part of everyone's process in bringing his films to
life. He tends to be very open-minded about the way a point is made
musically as well as sound design. We are all fans of each other's work, so
there is a great deal of camaraderie among us. Itıs great working with Zack!
VF - Speaking about "Watchmen," your score for this movie is considered by many
of the best of the past year. How do you feel to be part of a so important project?
TB - I am flattered when the public or my colleagues appreciate my work.
Though honestly, I have never been motivated by adulation on any level. My
first goal is to create the best score I am capable of for each project I
do. The of course, I want the director and the producers to be pleased with
it. And once we get to that point, I am happy for a few minutes, then I
analyze my work and learn from my mistakes and the moments that really
worked well, and carry that forward to my next project. I am really thankful
for the opportunity to work with great people. I think that that is the most
rewarding aspect of my job.
- You also score the series "Californication". How is the experience of
writing for a series?
TB "Californication" is unlike most television shows. The music is rather
crude and reckless at times in the spirit of the main character, Hank Moody,
played by David Duchovny. There are also many emotional moments that are
scored in the style of a song as opposed to traditional underscore, which is
really refreshing to do. I come from a background of being in bands
writing, producing, and recording songs, so this motif is second nature to
Obviously, the show is very popular and fun, which makes working on it all
the better. The best part of doing the show is the opportunity to work with
my good friend, Tree Adams, and to work for Tom Kapinos, the show creator,
who is just the best!
VF - Who is your favorite film music composer? And what is your favorite score?
TB I would have to say that
Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann are my
favorite composers. I love Jerry Goldsmith's "Planet of the Apes," and also
his score for "The Edge." Everything Bernard Herrmann wrote was inspiring to
me. Don Ellis' scores for the "French Connection" films were great. I love
how the orchestra was deliberately out of tune. The overall effect worked so
well with the films look and action sequences.
VF - And for finish, what Tyler Bates' projects will be released in
TB The score for the video game, "Army of Two: 40th Day," was released in
mid-January. That came out very well. The score for the "Transformers
Origins" video game will be released in April. On the film front, I am
working on a couple film projects at the moment, and I will begin another
film in March. I am not at liberty to say what they are at the moment. It's
looking like a good year though!
Special thanks to Mr. Tyler Bates for make this interview