Interview with Brian Tyler
Composer of The Expendables, John Rambo, Dragonball Evolution, Fast & Furious,
Law Abiding Citizen, Eagle Eye, The WAR, Aliens vs Predator - Requiem, The Final Destination 3D

March 30, 2009

Brian Tyler received his bachelor's degree from UCLA and his master's degree from Harvard University. His love of film was greatly inspired by his Academy Award winning art director grandfather Walter Tyler who was one of the most nominated art directors of all time with 10 Academy Award nominations. As for music, he began composing at an early age and was performing his own concert pieces around the United States and Russia by his mid-teens. Tyler continued playing piano, classical percussion, guitar, bass, and drums in various orchestras, music ensembles, choirs, and bands all the way up to 1997 when he decided to enter the world of film scoring.

Brian Tyler, when and how did you come to work on film music?

I was a musician since I was a child in a few different instruments. Drums and piano were my first. Then I learned guitar. I played with various bands and orchestras through the years and ended up learning to play a lot of instruments including ones from all over the world. Its a passion of mine. I began composing my own music as a kid as well. But it wasn't till 1997 when I got the call to score my first movie "Bartender" that I began composing music for films.

How would you describe or characterize your own musical style?

I suppose I compose from the heart and the brain. I love melody and passion but I am also interested in rhythms and unique sounds. Thematic writing is generally how I approach music, but sometimes I enjoy composing conceptual works not based on melody.

You did the SCORE for the new movie «Fast & Furious New Model. Original Parts» with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez. How was it?

It was fantastic working with director and friend Justin Lin for our fourth movie together. 

Could you describe your score?

The score is both aggressive and thematic. The music evokes many different moods and memories. At other times it is powerful and energetic.

Did you use some themes?

Yes I did. There was Letty's theme, Dom's theme, Brian's theme, and Mia's theme. They all had their ways of mixing together as a whole as well. The character of Bragga also had a themtic motif.

What was the orchestra size you were conducting?

I was the conductor of 85 people orchestra.

And did you play an instrument?

Yes, I played electric guitar, Spanish guitar, bass, electric cello, bouzouki, charango, piano, keyboards, vibraphone, cimballom, drum set, djembe, dholak, timpani, cymbals, bells, and a few other instruments for this movie.

Did you use electronic sounds?

Yes. There was an industrial and club aspect to some of the music that used phat synths.

What kind of ideas have you got for this Soundtrack? Did you take some existing tracks or melodies from «The Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift» or maybe also from «The Fast and the Furious», composed by BT? And what about David Arnold “2 Fast and 2 Furious”?

There were some cross over themes from Tokyo Drift. For instance, Han's theme appears briefly and "The Journey Backwards" from Tokyo Drift. There was an action motif that re-occurred as well.

How do you find this new movie? What's changed about the lasts ones? Because the story continues some years later then the first one and the hole cast is back.

I think this is the strongest film. It has more dramatic weight than the past films yet it is still fun. 

Did you met Vin Diesel, Paul Walker or other cast? How did you work with the rest of the team?

I have met Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster a number of times because I have scored many films with them.

Were you at the premiere of «Fast & Furious»?


Could you describe your score for this film?

The score is thematic. Strongly thematic. There are some electronic sounds but very few. Mostly the instruments were live. Percussion and woodwinds from Japan, China, Turkey, and the Middle East. We wanted a world sound.

To you, what is the most interesting, the most successful or the most complex scene you had to score for this film? Can you tell me how you did it? Could you analyze the relationship you created between picture and music?

I would say the final battle. It was very complex from a story and action perspective for one scene. It was about a 6 and a half minute piece. Conducting it was fun though!

Did you listen to Dragonball series score music, and be inspired by it, to give you a way in the composition process?

I did. I wanted to capture its spirit but expand the sound into something more epic for the big screen.

Which orchestra did you choose? Why? How many musicians did you get? Did you have any orders for the score? If yes, who gave them to you?

I chose the Hollywood Studio Symphony which is used by my heros like John Williams. The orchestra was about 80 people. Jim Wong discussed the direction of the score with me as well as Peter Kang and Amy Driscoll at Fox.

Premiere of «Fast & Furious»

Premiere of «Fast & Furious»

Premiere of «Fast & Furious»

Your next project will be «Middle Men» and «Final Destination: Death Trip 3D».Have you already begun with the scoring? May you tell us more about that?

Yes, The Final Destination is an aggressive and thematic score with everything from intricate production to large orchestra. I pay tribute to the late great Shirley Walker's original themes in the film. And there is a wild take on the theme for the opening and closing credits you have gotta hear!

Middle Men is a fantastic movie and I have finished that score. It is a moody drama with very serious moments and many moments of great fun! The score is one of my proudest moments.

And what about «The Expendables» and «Battle: Los Angeles»?

Those are to come!

Could you tell us something about your daily life as a Hollywood composer. What are you doing all day long? When do you start in the morning, when do you end? Do you live near from your working studios? Can you also working at home?

I compose all day long! Its crazy. I start at about 9:30 am and I usually go till about 3 or 4 am. I have a full studio facility on my property right next to my house.

When you receive a call from Hollywood to make a Score for a new Movie like «Fast & Furious», «Eagle Eye» or «Bangkok Dangerous», how do you begin? What are you first steps? Do you sat down on the piano and try to make new melodies? How do start?

I watch the film with the director and producers and just talk about the music. Then I play the film in my studio and start writing themes and go from there! Usually it is at the piano.

Which person gives you the call to make a new Score? Is that the agency or the movie company like for example SONY Pictures or Universal Pictures Studio?

Usually I first get a call from the director and then let my agents and the film studio work out the deal.

Or is it maybe a cast-member? For example Sylvester Stallone for his movie «John Rambo».

Well, Sly is both actor and director. And yes, he is the one that called me initially.

Which kind of movie is easier to score? Action movies? Comedy? Horror? Drama?

They all have their challenges!

Do you often work on your own for composing the new melodies and Soundtracks or is this something to make in a team? What's easier? Work alone or as a teamplayer?

New melodies are something that I always compose. But you must have a great support team of orchestrators, arrangers, mixers, etc.

What are you doing in your free time? What are you doing to escape from the daily stress and business? Do you make sport? Are you playing some games or stuff like that on the computer or at television (Playstation 3, X-Box 360, Wii)?

I love playing basketball and racing cars. And yes, PS3, XBOX 360 are great too. One of my favorite things to do is read. I love reading Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan.

Premiere of «Fast & Furious»

Have you favorite locations to inspire you? Or what can you do have new melodies or ideas for every new movie scoring?

I love traveling around the world. That is very inspiring. People can be very inspiring as well.

How many instruments do you play? And which one? What's your favorite one?

I play about 30 instruments or so. My favorite? I would have to say the drums are the most fun to play but the piano is the main instrument for melody. Conducting the orchestra is fantastic as well.

What kind of music do you listen in your free time or maybe to inspire you? Blues, Jazz, other movie scores, pop, rock?

Pop, rock, classical, avant garde, hip-hop, rnb, all forms of jazz, film scores, progressive rock, house, industrial, gothic, world music, death metal, heavy metal, hard rock, southern rock, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s rock and new wave, synth pop, electro, gospel, soul, motown, alternative rock, indie rock, dance, chill, the list goes on.

You know, that you have fans and much happy listeners - all over the world. Do you think that the fans and listeners are different in each country?

I have no idea! But if they are fans, I love them. hehe


Can you for example see a difference between US and European fans/listeners?

Not really. Music is universal.

Do you receive often fan writings by post or by e-mail?

I get a ton of emails everyday. My inbox is backlogged by a few thousand emails. Traditional mail is less common but I get a good amount of requests by post to sign a picture or CDs.

What if you were offered your dream project… What would it be ?

Steven Spielberg directing. I worked with him on "Eagle Eye" and I idolize him.

Many thanks !

Fabrice Steurer in collaboration with Christine Blanc

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