A new chapter of the Star Wars saga began
with "The Clone Wars", the pilot for the CGI animated series
produced by George Lucas. Kevin Kiner, composer for the series, granted
us with this exclusive interview where he talks about "The Clone Wars",
"CSI: Miami" and other aspects of his career.
- Kevin, it is
a pleasure to interview you for ScoreTrack.net. You have been working on
scores for more than 25 years. When you write a score, what is your
approach? What are your feelings?
Kevin Kiner -
My first step in the process is to watch the picture to see what emotions
I need to enhance or support with regard to the drama that is in front
of me. In that sense I think I’m almost feeling a bit like an actor,
trying to reach the feel and atmosphere that the director is conveying
with the picture. If it is an action scene, then I get quite worked up
and have a lot of energy. It’s just natural to feel that excitement when
you are writing an exciting piece of music.
- Since 2003 you´ve been working on CSI: Miami, tells us about the
experience to be part of a hit TV show like this one.
- CSI: Miami has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had
scoring a show. The show is constantly changing its musical styles, from
one episode to the next or even within a single episode. Being so
eclectic is a great challenge, but it also keeps me very fresh. I’m
constantly listening to new ideas in the music scene and keeping current
with what is happening.
Kevin Kiner bonds
with a Clone Trooper
– What can you tell us about the
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
I wanted this score to be something that moves forward from the previous
live action films but also to retain a large element of the style that
established so well. That was the biggest challenge for the Clone
Wars score, to keep the classical sensibility of what John did, but
to add my own voice with percussion and various ethnic modalities to
that foundation. The sound of film scores is constantly evolving, and I
wanted to have the Clone Wars score be at the forefront of this
evolution – classical meets rhythmic ethnicity – if you will.
- For this movie you've worked with the City of Prague Philharmonic
Orcherstra. How did you feel seeing 91 amazing musicians playing your
Any time I’m given such a great palette I’m absolutely thrilled. I’ve
worked with the City of Prague Orchestra on three previous occasions,
and it’s always been with great results. The strings in Prague are
unbeatable, and this time we used some of the younger brass players who
have a bit more of an aggressive style, so it really complimented this
- Give us the name of a composer that can be considered a role model for
you, and what kind of influences he (or she) brought to your style.
- John Williams has always been my model for what a great film composer
should be. His melodies and classical approach are unrivaled. So in
terms of influence, he has always been my number one choice. Having said
that, I have my own voice and style just as any composer does, so I am
always trying to blend that style – which has it’s roots in the rock
music I grew up playing – with the classical and melodic sensibility
that John brings to a score.
- Your next project is the documentary Crimes Against Nature, what
you can tell us about this project?
- Crimes Against Nature is a documentary based on a book by Bobby
Kennedy Jr. that chronicles the abuses the environment has endured under
the current government administration. The music is very eclectic, going
from solo uilleann pipes in one piece to a trip hop influenced groove in
another. The trip hop vibe works very well in some of the wilderness
scenes because it lends a sort of urban toxicity to the landscape. The
film deals with a lot of the ramifications of coal mining and the urban
sound is a nice element that plays the waste and desolation that are on
- Lets go back to the beginning: where were you born, and how did you
discover the penchant for music?
was raised in Escondido, California (near San Diego). I started in rock
playing as a guitarist for a lot of different bands. My main influences
as I was growing up were “Yes”, “Pink Floyd” “The Eagles” “The Beatles”
“The Stones” “Black Sabbath” “ELP” “ELO” “Uriah Heep” “BB King” etc.
anything with a great guitar part that I could be the hero on. As I grew
up, I got heavily influenced by jazz greats like Howard Roberts, Les
Paul, Wes Montgomery, and even sax players like Charlie Parker and
– Of all the scores you have written, which one is your favorite?
far as my favorite work, it would have to be a tie between the score for
a film called The Other Side of Heaven and the Star Wars:Clone
Wars score. Those two are vastly different, with the former being a
very warm, heartfelt Americana type of score, and of course Clone
Wars being what we have discussed in this interview.
- And about the scores written by other composers?
- As far as my
favorite scores from other composers, I’ll give you a few: Star Wars,
Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, Superman (John Williams), Back to
the Future (Alan Silvestri), Phone Booth (Harry Gregson Williams), Star
Trek (Jerry Goldsmith), The Bourne Identity (John Powell), Babel
(Gustavo Santaolalla), Beautiful Mind (James Horner), The Mission (Ennio
Morricone), Out of Africa (John Barry).
– What is your favorite musical instrument?
- Well, I’m a guitarist so that has to be right up there. But I’ve
always loved composing for string. I remember the first time I heard a
string section playing something I had written – it was better than sex!
Special thanks to Kevin Kiner and Melissa McNeil for make this interview