The right project always seems to come around at the right time. In the spring of 2020, I was in the midst of a variety of scoring projects when the Coronavirus pandemic hit. My life and my work ground to an immediate screeching halt. Suddenly, I was stuck at home, unable to collaborate directly with filmmakers or musicians. While I had a few of my own personal projects to keep my creative flame burning, I found myself, for the first time in nearly twenty years, with relatively little professional scoring work while I waited for production to resume on series, films and games. All of sudden, along came This Game’s Called Murder.
Isaac Asimov’s profoundly influential Foundation stories and novels chronicle humanity’s distant future, in which a mathematician named Hari Seldon develops psychohistory, a model that accurately predicts the behavior of large populations, and he uses it to foresee the downfall of the Galactica Empire. He and his band of exiled disciples strive to prepare humanity for the coming calamities and make possible the rebuilding of civilization. Many producers struggled to adapt the novels for the screen for decades. At last, David S. Goyer collaborated with Skydance Media to bring the saga to Apple TV+. I was thrilled to write the score for this massive outer space epic.
David S. Goyer and I have known each other for nearly a decade, having collaborated on such projects as Da Vinci’s DemonsandConstantine. Years ago, he told me he was developing Asimov’s groundbreaking novels and my imagination exploded. I knew even then I wanted to write an epic hybrid score that blends a massive orchestra and choir with modern propulsive synths. I recalled from having read some of the novels in high school that the concept of mathematics featured prominently in the story. I realized that I would need to find a unique musical signature for math itself, if I were to really capture the spirit of Asimov’s Foundation in music. The ideas rolled around the back of my mind for a few years until at last, the series went into full production and I was brought on as composer.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation, the new Netflix animated series from celebrated filmmaker Kevin Smith, continues the saga first popularized in the 1980’s by the Mattel toys and comic books, and the Filmation animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The series is a love letter to this classic era, designed to be nostalgic for fans like me who grew up with the characters forty years ago, and to also appeal to our children, who will enter the fictional world of Eternia for the first time. Revelation serves as a direct sequel to the classic saga by preserving the beloved character designs and occasional goofy one-liners. Simultaneously, the show expands the narrative horizons by raising the stakes, heightening emotional character arcs, and exploring darker themes. The producers reached out to me to craft a musical score that could support this ambitious show.
MEMORIES OF MOTU
I was born in 1979, near the cut off of the generation of kids who would grow up with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. When I was a young child, He-Man and Star Wars were my first fantasy worlds. Though Star Wars was written with more narrative sophistication, I could visit Eternia every day as the Filmation series bombarded the airwaves. (This is before Netflix, kids. We watched what was on!)
I will never forget the summer of 2009, when my unique band, The BSG Orchestra, rocked out on a crowded stage in San Diego during Comic Con, performing my score for Battlestar Galactica, just months after the epic series finale aired. The venue was bursting with my brilliant musicians, many of the cast, crew, writers, producers, and executives, as well as fans from around the world. Together, we experienced a collective euphoria, because we all loved the show with the same intense passion. After the last encore, the crowd erupted into an unprompted chant of “So Say We All,” a moment that remains one of the most magical and memorable of my life. As the house lights came up and the crowd dissipated, I collapsed into a sweat-soaked heap on the couch in the greenroom and realized that, for the first in my life, I had no new cues for the show to write. Battlestar Galactica had been the most significant part of my life for six years, and now, with this concert complete, it was over.
Ava, a sleek new, spy thriller stars Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Colin Farrell, Common, Joan Chen, and Geena Davis. The film, a Voltage picture, directed by Tate Taylor, hit VOD this fall. Jessica Chastain plays the title character, a remorseless assassin, who must wrestle with her own demons, and struggle with relationships she has wrecked or abandoned. The film is an ambitious combination of character study and assassin intrigue.
As a kid I immersed myself in orchestral film scores growing up, background that served me well for the last Voltage Picture I scored, The Professor and the Madman. That score’s Romantic chamber orchestra flourishes represent the total polar opposite of the musical needs of this film. Fortunately as a kid growing up in the 1990’s I also adored electronic music maturing in that era. Depeche Mode, Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails, and Marilyn Manson had a huge impact on my young brain and popular culture, as did the scores of composers such as Brad Fiedel (Terminator, Terminator 2, True Lies), Éric Serra (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element), the Dust Brothers (Fight Club), and Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil (Run Lola Run). I had always wanted to try my hand at a score written in the style pioneered by these artists. So, I was grateful to join Ava’s incredible creative team and be given the chance to compose a searing, predominantly electronic score for a spy thriller.