Hey there, film score lovers! Welcome to another edition of CS Score. This week we’re taking a look at Intrada’s re-released expanded score for Jerry Goldsmith’s The Mummy, and speaking with Tree Adams about his score for the documentary Belushi. We also spoke to composer Nicolas Repetto about his work on The Sound of Identity.
The Mummy 2CD Expand Score by Jerry Goldsmith
There’s not much else to say about Jerry Goldsmith’s The Mummy that hasn’t already been said. As adventure scores go, you can’t get much better. Featuring a massive orchestra and plenty of memorable themes, Goldsmith weaves a thrilling and bombastic score that works as a unique hybrid of the composer’s own 13th Warrior and John Williams’ Indiana Jones. Sure, nothing in The Mummy could be described as revolutionary, but, much like the Stephen Sommers movie, still entertains even after 20+ years.
Standout pieces include the tracks “Camel Race,” and “Sand Storm,” while extended cues like “The Mummy Attack” are absolutely masterful examples of classic adventure film scoring.
Intrada released the expanded score to The Mummy a few years ago, and it quickly went out of stock; and has since lingered on sites like eBay for absurd prices. Thankfully, Intrada has re-released the score, though it will likely sell out quite quickly so get over there now and scoop this bad boy up!
Here’s the breakdown from Intrada:
Jerry Goldsmith’s spectacular score gets an expanded 2-CD premiere! Wildly successful 1999 reboot of Universal Picture’s famed series of 30’s and 40’s horror entries all began with Boris Karloff in 1931. Stephen Sommers directs with Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Jonathan Hyde, Kevin J. O’Connor. Kevin Jarre executive produces, Sommers also writes screen story and script. Often getting front and center attention is mammoth 91-minute Jerry Goldsmith score, utilizing huge orchestra and chorus in the largest scale writing of his latter career. Numerous themes appear, dynamic action cues abound! Much to the joy of Goldsmith fans everywhere, celebrated composer made welcome return to his beloved rhythmic vernacular with emphasis on aggressive orchestral ostinatos dominated by real percussion, low brass and strings. Electronics, a staple of Goldsmith’s post-1980’s writing, play a more subordinate role in this score, typically used to just add subtle exotic color in suspense sequences. Powerhouse fortissimo action music, thundering ideas usually take the spotlight. While entire augmented brass section of Goldsmith’s London orchestra gets an incredible workout, the wall of French horns commands special attention! Score also brings about welcome return to the composer’s then-long dormant busy style of string writing, especially exhilarating during action sequences. Decca label released a solid 57-minute album at time of film’s release but interestingly composer and engineer Bruce Botnick dropped every cue from entire mid-section of film, comprising film reels 8, 9, 10 and portions of 11. New 2-CD expanded premiere on Intrada includes every one of those previously unreleased cues which include stunning action material for “The Flies”, the fierce “Sand Storm” music, the riveting final “Escape From The Tomb” and the dramatic “The Prep Room” sequence. Highlighting the generous array of new music are two versions of the 5-minute action cue “The Locusts”, a stand-out piece reminding fans of Goldsmith’s sizzling action voice in a look backwards that the composer rarely chose to do. Film version appears with busier ending while unused version has stream-lined ending but lengthier middle-section. Two different approaches to one great previously-unreleased cue! After full 91-minute score concludes on first portion of CD 2, nearly 10 minutes of additional alternates play, followed by Decca’s original 1999 album of highlights. Bruce Botnick personally remixed entire expanded score from the original Sony 3348 format 48-track digital scoring session masters, courtesy Universal Pictures and Universal Music Enterprises, a division of UMG. Audio sonics are magnificent with instrumental detail not previously audible. On a score this massive, it makes quite a difference. Jeff Bond provides compelling liner notes, Intrada art director Kay Marshall assembles colorful package with flipper-style booklet cover allowing listener to choose original Decca artwork of the sand storm sequence or alternate campaign featuring the principal cast. Goldsmith’s last truly major work given the royal treatment! Mike Ross-Trevor engineers scoring sessions, Bruce Botnick engineers film and album mixes, Jerry Goldsmith composes and conducts augmented 90-piece London orchestra plus Ambrosian Singers. It’s a big one! Intrada Special Collection 2-CD release available while quantities and interest remain!
Complete Soundtrack Time: 90:50
Original 1999 Decca Soundtrack Album
*Not Previously Released
Bear McCreary Celebrates Release of Battlestar Galactica Albums on Streaming & New Live Album So Say We All
Emmy® and BAFTA award-winning composer Bear McCreary (The Walking Dead, Godzilla: King of the Monsters), is celebrating the release of his iconic scores to the four seasons of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series, that ran on the Sci Fi Channel from 2004-2009. Soundtracks for all four seasons have been digitally remastered and will be available on music streaming services for the very first time. McCreary will simultaneously release a live album, So Say We All: Battlestar Galactica Live. The 13-track album of fan favorites spans all seasons of the series and was recorded at performances in various venues in North America and Europe.
All five albums will be available June 4 from Sparks & Shadows, and a limited number of signed CD copies of So Say We All will be available exclusively via La-La Land Records on June 8.
In addition, McCreary has launched a new website featuring a noted blog detailing the composer’s thoughts and observations on processes and detailed examinations of scores for Battlestar Galactica, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Walking Dead, God of War, Outlander, and many more—check it out at: www.BearMcCreary.com.
Io9 premiered the video for the live performance of “All Along The Watchtower” featuring Katee Sackhoff.
Tree Adams Interview – Belushi
Tree Adams’ HMMA award-winning score for Showtime’s Belushi is now making a run for the Emmys.
The score serves as the loyal companion to Belushi by touching on his many musical layers: blues, funk, and rock. As the critically-acclaimed doc follows the comedic legend, Tree deconstructs the recorded band elements at times, layering them in a distinctly cerebral stew. He is an Emmy-nominated and BMI Award-winning composer known for his work on NCIS: New Orleans, The 100, and Californication.
Jeff Ames: First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak with ComingSoon about your score for Belushi. As someone who always admired the late comedian’s work, I thought the film offered an interesting perspective on John Belushi’s life. Well done! What drew you to this project?
Tree Adams: The director, R.J. Cutler is a friend and he’s super talented so when he asked me to come on board, I was excited at the prospect of working with him. Then, of course, John Belushi loomed larger than life as a cultural icon in my youth. So, I was thrilled to be able to roll around in that world for a bit.
Your score serves Belushi the man well. There are cues filled with strange, distant sounds such as “Everybody Knows Me,” moments featuring blues-style beats like “Get Married,” wild tracks like “Cocaine,” and darker, somber tracks like “Belushi Dead at 33.” What was your overarching goal with the various styles — and how did you ultimately arrive at the musical identity for such tracks?
Thanks, Jeff! Well, there were sort of two main channels that the score had to operate on. The first one was to accompany Belushi on the journey through his time and to reflect the different musical styles of the moment (rock, funk, blues primarily.) These pieces also needed to integrate well with the live clips of his performances we were hearing so everything had an authentic feel to it. Then, the other channel as it were, was the emotional and cerebral part of the story where we get a look at the man himself behind these larger-than-life characters. For this component, we deconstructed a lot of the live performances from the band and warped the elements to make them unrecognizable and distinct on their own yet somehow part of the same connective tissue.
Looking over your previous work, you have an amazing knack for creating unique sounds and styles via electronics or traditional instruments — what were some of the unique concepts you created for BELUSHI?
I think the unique aspect to the BELUSHI score is in the way that we deconstructed the band ensemble recordings to create these warped textures and collages.
You’ve done a number of projects, in what ways are documentaries like Belushi unique for a composer? Are you more free to experiment with different sounds, or is it a more restrained process?
It’s hard to compare different mediums because every project has its own set of parameters and circumstances but I had a fair amount of freedom in putting together the BELUSHI score. The director, R.J. Cutler had a clear idea of what he wanted throughout which was helpful as a road map. The band/groove-oriented stuff was pretty wide open within the context of each of the different styles we were covering and then there was a lot of freedom to experiment for the cerebral and dramatic arc of the story.
What were some of the challenges Belushi presented to you?
From the outset, it was kind of hard to picture the man behind these iconic characters that Belushi played. In this film, R.J. had the cooperation of Belushi’s widow, Judith who supplied all this archival footage, personal notes and memorabilia which really gave us a good picture of Belushi, the man. Seeing his vulnerable side, his romantic side, the emotions, and the darkness that accompanied his manic passion, it was a challenge to find the right tone. We needed to help tell that story but we also needed to accompany him on this raucous journey and most of all we needed to be tasteful about it.
Then, another big challenge was the fact that he was a musician and that there were going to be a number of musical clips used in the film. This meant that we needed to pay close attention to how we used score in and out of those moments.
Was there an opportunity with Belushi’s score in which you were forced to step outside your comfort zone to produce something you had never tried before?
My comfort zone is pretty wide, but I will see that we did a lot of experimenting in pulling apart the band recordings to create some of these collages.
Ultimately, what do you hope audiences take away from Belushi the documentary and Belushi the score?
I hope people enjoy getting a glimpse back at the raucous journey that Belushi had and that they walk away with a new sense of what a passionate and complicated man he was. With the music, I always seek to be the loyal companion to the story. Hopefully, we helped to fulfill that purpose here.
Speaking about you specifically, what drew you to the world of TV and film composing?
I love the art of storytelling with music and I enjoy getting to try new things and grow with each new project.
How has your style evolved over the years? (Is Belushi a score you could have produced early in your career?)
It’s hard to say how my style has evolved. I continue to try and learn with every new gig, each new musician I play with or record, each new director I work with. Sufficeth to say, every day, I’m tryin’ to get better! Sure, I probably could have scored BELUSHI earlier in my career. I probably just would have done it differently. Hopefully, I’m picking things up along the way and imbuing these scores with more and more magical nuggets.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can speak about?
I have a 10 piece funk band called DAGNASTERPUS. We have a record coming out on Six Degrees Records on June 25th. Very excited to share this one with the world!
Nicolas Repetto Interview – The Sound of Identity
Nicolas Repetto is an Argentinian-American television and film composer based in Los Angeles, who has uplifted many projects with his diverse scores. He has scored numerous films and projects, such as director James Kicklighter’s documentary feature film, The Sound of Identity, which chronicles the life of transgender opera singer, Lucia Lucas. The film was featured in the New York Times and winner of the Programmers Award of Excellence at the OUTshine Film Festival. He also scored director Phil Harding’s feature drama, The Reunion, and the Slamdance Film Festival premiere of the episodic/pilot Tijuana directed by Mary-Lyn Chambers.
Nicolas’ music is a blend of Argentinian/Latin/world influences, classical training, electronics sensibility, and modern film and television soundtracks. His upcoming releases in 2021 include the multi-year feature documentary, The American Question by director James Kicklighter, the fantasy feature Empire Queen: The Golden Age of Magic by director Chris Dane Owens, based on his YouTube video which garnered over a million views; and the indie horror feature, Spider by director Desmon Heck (NCIS, Criminal Minds). Other past projects include the Hollywood Music In Media Award-nominated score to Ode In Blood and The Plural of Blood, Debris (Escombros) which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival/Film Independent, and the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. Also, Nick played violin on the score to the 2016 Oscar-winning documentary, O.J.: Made In America as well as the new Deadmau5 album Live at the Wiltern with Deadmau5. In addition, Nicolas has had music placements on TLC, HBO, and in various advertising campaigns.
Nicolas is an alum of the Society of Composers and Lyricists Mentorship Program and the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop. He had the great opportunity to conduct a 60-piece orchestra at 21st Century Fox under the tutelage of acclaimed composer Richard Bellis (It). His past mentors include Ron Jones (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Penka Kouvena (Prince of Persia), and Cliff Eidelman (Star Trek VI: The Voyage Home). He resides in Los Angeles with his husband and their two dogs, Benji and Gypsy.
Jeff Ames: Firstly, thanks for taking the time to talk about your work on The Sound of Identity. What drew you to this amazing project?
Nicolas Repetto: My pleasure! Thank you for having me. James Kicklighter, my friend, and collaborator going on 10 years now, brought me on board for this wonderful film. One thing I’ve learned about working with James for so long is that I know he’s always going to give me a great project. It’s always an immediate yes for me. I was told it was a feature documentary about opera and that it was highlighting Lucia Lucas, the first transgender opera singer to perform a major work–Mozart’s Don Giovanni–in the U.S. And of all places, in conservative Tulsa, Oklahoma. From his prompt alone, it was hook, line, and sinker for me! After learning more about Lucia, being an LGBTQ+ person myself, I felt it was a great opportunity to help tell Lucia’s story and her journey in the world of opera through my music, and to be part of a project that would spread the visibility of trans people and their lives. Of course, my love of Mozart was the cherry on top.
The documentary features the first-ever transgender woman performing an opera lead in the U.S. What was your approach to this story as a composer, and why did you decide to go in this direction?
After a few conversations with James about the direction of the score, we both agreed it needed to be a score with an introspective tone because the film is very much about introspection. I had to develop a strong motif that evolved with the emotion of Lucia’s journey–within herself and within opera, and really within the world. As an LGBTQ+ person, as a Latinx person, I could very much relate to the essence of Lucia’s story as an outsider, as one that doesn’t conform with a specific standard, as someone that is not necessarily seen as intrinsically capable or acceptable. My emotional reaction to a film’s story and characters–whether fiction or nonfiction–is always an important factor when approaching a new film score. Luckily, with this film, the organic emotions I drew upon from Lucia’s story gave me the fuel I needed to technically translate those emotions through the string orchestra layered with the electronics and synths.
How much creative freedom did you have on this particular project?
Working with James Kicklighter is a collaborator’s dream. He allowed me to freely experiment and he trusted my judgment. It was refreshing to have his direction, but not feel like I was in a box that was nailed shut. I think after working together on projects for almost 10 years, we have learned to get on the same wavelength rather quickly in the process. When I told him I was sketching ideas with string soloists accompanied by a string orchestra to signify portions of Lucia’s identity, he encouraged me to bring my ideas to life and trusted me every step of the way. I was very grateful for that both creatively and emotionally.
You’ve scored a number of projects centered around important issues — is this by design? As in, do you pick your projects based on the subject matter, or do they find you?
It’s a bit of both. Growing up, my father always encouraged me to be informed about the news and events around the world and to be interested in the experiences of others. And more importantly, to take part in these events, to understand what drives them and why. In my film scoring career, I have loved and have been lucky enough to be able to work on all kinds of movies, but I think my interest in real-life experiences in this world has definitely informed the kinds of movies I seek. I also think those are the kinds of movies people want to make nowadays. Politics and divisiveness have forced us to become introspective and pushed us all to be more aware of what is happening to others in this world. So it’s a bit of both–I find the films and they find me. We find each other.
What I love about working on movies that tell these real-life stories–whether narrative or documentary–is that they evoke such strong emotions in me for my scores. Sometimes it’s because I can relate to them so well, and sometimes it’s because I am learning about what someone else experiences in their own life. I worked on two films with director Mary-Lyn Chambers that are perfect examples. Debris (Escombros), a film about two child refugees caught in the gears of the U.S. immigration system, connected strongly with me. I immigrated to this country as a child with parents who knew no English, so I understood the emotion behind finding a better life for your family, no matter the cost, and the unintended consequences that may result. On the other hand, The Plural of Blood, her film that explores police shootings from the perspective of a Latino police officer and his African-American wife, was not relatable on a personal level but was more of a revelation to me. It evoked an empathetic emotion for my score. A different kind of emotion, but nonetheless just as powerful.
How important is a documentary like The Sound of Identity for audiences to see?
In the history of filmmaking and TV, I don’t think trans visibility has been as vibrant as it has been in recent years. But more visibility doesn’t always translate to more understanding. You may see a handful of stars like Eliott Page, Laverne Cox, and Caitlyn Jenner occasionally in movies and on TV, and you may have even watched an old documentary about Christine Jorgensen or Marsha P. Johnson; but I don’t know if occasionally seeing these few examples in our media necessarily translates to real human understanding of the trans person sitting across from you on the bus still in the beginning stages of hormone therapy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone tap their friend’s knee and point to look at a trans person. That kind of thing is subtle, but it makes it crystal clear how far we still have to go. Only with more visibility and telling of trans stories in every aspect of life will there be better understanding. People will not understand you if they can’t relate to you — it’s human nature. That is why I feel it is incredibly important for audiences to learn about Lucia Lucas and her unique place in opera. The heart of the film and the message of Lucia is one of being true to yourself and doing your best work in the way you feel is most authentic to you–no matter what world you’re in, whether it’s opera, medicine, construction, or education. That is a human condition that resonates with all of us. The more frequently we can see these kinds of films in the mainstream, the closer we get to true understanding. Everyone says it, but it bears repeating over and over [that] representation does matter.
Let’s shift towards you — what got you started in film/TV score composing?
I love questions like these because they always make me reflect. Sometimes you are so embedded in the present and future, you forget to really reflect on the past to see how far you’ve come.
I can honestly say my interests started as a child. I think every kid enjoys the movies when they’re young, but I’m pretty sure I was more obsessed than the average bear. I wasn’t the sports kid or the genius kid. I was the movies kid. On weekends, my mom would take me to Blockbuster to rent no less than 6 or 7 VHS tapes to watch before Monday. Video stores were my Disneyland. I was into every kind of film too —The Fly by David Cronenberg, Superman by Richard Donner, The Never-Ending Story by Wolfgang Petersen, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Terry Gilliam, you name it. The funny thing is though, I never really thought about the music in the films even though I was a musical child. I sang in choirs, I played recorder, and I enjoyed learning about different instruments thanks to my first music teacher, Ms. Love. I would even go on to learn and flourish in violin during middle school. But it was in my high school orchestra days that I really started to realize the connection between the imagery and the music in films, connecting my love of films with my love of music.
I think Braveheart was the first movie I remember seeing which really tied together the imagery on-screen to the music playing behind it. I remember gawking over a piece of sheet music from James Horner, which turned me into a life-long fan of his–a true influence on my life and career. In college, I dabbled in music composition classes, listening and analyzing a lot more of the works by James Horner in Aliens and The House of Sand and Fog, so my interest in film scoring definitely spiked up in college.
The big “a-ha!” moment though, came when I saw The Lord of the Rings for the first time at a screening at the University of Miami. I’d never heard of Tolkien nor his books, so I was coming into the movie without expectation and with a very open mind. I can still remember how blown away I felt when I finally saw a movie that ticked every box in my movie-watching checklist–great characters, great cinematography, great story, great immersion into Tolkien’s world…and of course, great music. Howard Shore’s musical journey within the story truly solidified what I wanted to do for the rest of my life–exactly what Mr. Shore and Mr. Horner did. It was a profound revelation for me and gave me purpose for my life. It’s not always an easy thing to find your purpose–why you feel like you exist in this world–but this was the moment I found mine. I don’t remember what excuse I told my friends to jet off, but I immediately raced home to start composing something that sounded like what I heard. It wasn’t very good, but it was my way of encapsulating and remembering that moment and releasing the excitement I felt.
Since the film composer bug bit me all those years ago, I really have not looked back in pursuing this field and this career. After college, I studied in Seattle with Hummie Mann at the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program to truly test the waters of my interest with the career in the real world. And as the story always goes, I eventually found my way to Los Angeles to try to make my dreams actually come true. I grew infinitely by putting myself out there and soaking up what knowledge I could gather every day, every week, every month, every year. I participated in the Society of Composers and Lyricists Mentorship Program and the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop with Richard Bellis, and eventually met great directors to collaborate with on amazing projects, like James Kicklighter and The Sound of Identity. I continually find it fascinating how much power a work of art can instill on an individual. Whether it’s a film or a piece of visual art–it can literally change the trajectory of your life and career. It can give you purpose. It can save your life.
How has your music evolved since you first started in 2011?
Repetto: That’s a great question. I took my first real composing job creating advertisement jingles for my friend Joe Perz at the Beber Silverstein Group when I had just learned how computers, sample libraries, and midi controllers all worked in concert to compose and produce music. The composing gear was foreign to me since I was mainly a classical violinist, but over the years, I have learned to make investments in the right programs and equipment and work with my gear to make things sound realistic. From simply learning how to master these tools, through trial and error and self-education, my music has been able to evolve in sound, quality, and in creating seamless harmony between live recordings and my sample libraries. I feel like my musical styling and tastes have changed so much as well. Obviously, the films dictate the tone and theme of the music, but within that tone and theme, I have become a lot more willing to experiment with different sounds than when I started my career. I gravitated very much towards a traditional classical sound in the beginning of my career, in somewhat of a purist sense. But as I was exposed to more films and more directors with different tastes, I feel I have been able to integrate the classical sound I love so much into other styles of music–EDM, rock, Latin/world music, alternative. I have definitely become more embracing of other styles of music over my career, and have really taken seriously the importance of uniqueness in sound. That’s the amazing thing about being a modern-day composer for film/tv: there are no rules anymore. Experimentation is encouraged and you can build a career off of a sound that is far off of the mainstream. I hope I can continue to collaborate on projects with directors that allow and encourage me to evolve.
Are there any artists you patterned your style after?
It’s absolutely the three J’s and two E’s: Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, and James Horner. Ennio Morricone and Elliot Goldenthal. They really did provide the soundtrack to my life. I honestly don’t think anyone in our business can say that they weren’t in some way influenced by the three J’s and two E’s. I of course have my own voice and try to find uniqueness in my sound, but I don’t doubt that anything I create is somehow patterned after the music pioneered by those great composers. I also enjoy and appreciate many of my contemporary peers–Gustavo Santaolalla, Bear McCreary, Mica Levi, and Benjamin Wallfisch, for example, are composers I feel have really found success in building off the foundation of their influences and predecessors, but have created their own unique sound in film, television, and video games. I also get inspiration from artists in the pop world. Pop artists really understand the importance of a hook and repetition, which is sometimes important to understand in certain film scores. I’ve been a long-time fan of Lady Gaga since she first broke out, but I also love my Argentinian brother, Carlos Gardel, and I love Celia Cruz, Selena, RuPaul, and Annie Lennox.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can discuss with us?
Yes, I do and I’m very excited about all of them. I’m currently scoring an epic fantasy film called Empire Queen: The Golden Age of Magic, which is an original adventure hero film, full of magic, wizards, and dragons, created by director and creator, Chris Dane Owens. I’ve also written preliminary music for James Kicklighter’s next feature documentary, The American Question, which examines the past and future of what we have come to value and the differences in those values across different parts of the U.S. and around the world. And finally, I’m scoring the indie horror/thriller, Spider, directed by Desmon Heck (NCIS, Criminal Minds), a wonderful actor/director I met through my social media channels. Desmon has given me carte blanche to experiment with some unique sonic ideas for his film score, so I’m excited for that and the opportunity to work with him for the first time.
I do want to mention that the original soundtrack album to The Sound of Identity is NOW available on all digital music platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon, courtesy of MovieScore Media. The Sound of Identity will is available to watch on VOD/digital! Thank you again for having me!