Interview with John Debney
Composer of Machete, Iron Man 2, Predators, Sin City 3, Sin City, Bruce Almighty
and Disneyland Paris (Phantom Manor) and Walt Disney World Florida (Spectromagic)

July 21, 2010

LOS ANGELES (July 7, 2010) – Academy Award® nominated composer JOHN DEBNEY’s fifth collaboration with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez presented him with a unique challenge. The original Predator movie’s film score by Alan Silvestri is a classic that is widely known – how do you top it?

«Re-boots of iconic films can be very tricky,» described Debney of the upcoming PREDATORS, «yet after viewing the first two reels I was hooked. I also love Alan Silvestri's magnificent score for the first film. So, I asked myself how in the world could I write a Predator score without utilizing themes and motifs from Alan's masterwork. I decided that I would embrace the music that IS Predator and create a companion piece utilizing themes from the first score.»

PREDATORS will be released by 20th Century Fox this Friday, July 9. A score CD will be available August 10 through La-La Land Records. Advance copies will also be available at Comic-Con in San Diego (July 22-25) at the La-La Land Records display at the Toy Hungry booth.

Debney’s approach includes recording many custom sounds and instruments, «including the Tibetan long horns that create the squeals and screams during the ‘Hound Attack’ scene.» He continues, «Manipulated metal scrapes and ethnic percussion highlight the advanced yet brutally primitive quality of the Predators and their world.»

Earlier this summer, Debney’s third collaboration with director John Favreau, Iron Man 2 hit the screens and has currently grossed over $300,000,000.

Debney received an Oscar® nomination for THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, last year Debney received multiple Career Achievement Awards from the Burbank International Film Festival, the Hollywood Music in Media Awards and the Temecula Valley International Film Festival.

Recently, Daily Variety devoted an 11 page tribute to Debney as the «Billion-Dollar Composer,» for his tremendous box office success (films he has scored have grossed over five billion-dollars.) Debney has received several Emmys®, a Dove® award for THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and a CUE® award for the THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and THE PRINCESS DIARIES. Debney received a BAFTA® nomination for his score to the videogame LAIR, was the youngest recipient of the ASCAP Henry Mancini Award for Career Achievement, and has conducted concerts of his music with orchestras throughout the United States and Europe. In May 2011, Debney’s PASSION ORATORIO will be performed in St. Peter’s Square. Debney’s film credits include IDLEWILD, a Prohibition-era musical starring the duo Outkast and featuring famed trumpeter Arturo Sandoval; the animated films BARNYARD and CHICKEN LITTLE; the comic-book inspired SIN CITY, the comedies ELF and LIAR LIAR, and the dramatic film THE STONING OF SORAYA M. with vocals by Sussan Deyhim.

You recently did the score for «Iron Man 2» and now Robert Rodriguez' «Predators». How much time did you have to create the score for Iron Man 2? Did you take some themes from the first movie composed by Ramin Djawadi or how did you begin? If you need to compose a movie, which is a sequel, do you often take the themes/samples from the first movie? What differences are there if you compare the first and the second score from Iron Man? (Orchestration, working progress, ask from the director…)

The two scores are quite different. In Iron Man 2, I was asked to create something "more orchestral and darker" than the first. Although IM2 has elements of the first score, (El. Guitar etc.) it truly is a different score with perhaps more scope and darkness. I had a long time work on that one. Maybe 4 months or so.

Does IMAX change something in Iron Man 2 concerning the soundtrack, or is it just a new standard for images (visual)?

Actually I’m told that IMAX does change the mix based on the needs of the IMAX platform. There are much greater audio issues than the standard film so IMAX has a part in the mixing process.

How do you prepare yourself and where do you find the ideas and creative imagination for scoring?

Well I’m a huge Predator fan so when I heard that Robert and Nimrod were on board, I just knew that I had to be too. Predator is one of my favorite films of all time!

Did you use some electronic music and synthesizer too or just real instruments and orchestra? Why? Did you first write on paper or on the computer?

I primarily used real instruments but I do layer sometimes with electronic elements. I like to write on the computer. I find it to be faster and I can hear my musical thoughts back right away.

What do you think about composing Video Game music? Did you compose the soundtrack for the new videogame Aliens vs. Predators?

I love composing for video games. It is a very involved process that at times requires more music than a film. My first video game was Lair which I received a BAFTA nomination for. I am very proud of that score. I didn't do the music for Aliens Vs. Predators.

Please tell us something about your next projects? What's coming next?

I am currently scoring Machete for Robert Rodriguez. He was the producer of Predators and this is our sixth collaboration together.

What are you doing in your free time to relax and get some new ideas and inspiration? What kind of music are you listening to, if it isn’t a soundtrack or score?

I literally get away from music. I read, walk, swim…basically, do anything but listen to music. In this way I’m fresh for the next adventure.

Could you tell us something about your relationship and recent work with Hans Zimmer?

I have a great admiration for Hans yet we haven’t worked together as yet. I do have a couple projects in mind that we might have fun with. I think he is a great artist and I am inspired by his work.

What do you think about the evolution from actual movie- and animation-soundtracks from Disney, comparing those with the epoch where your father starts to work on it? What changed in those many years (apart from the CGI and computer performance/power)?

So many things have changed in the last 50 years since the dawn of animation. We have so many tools at our disposal now. Computers and virtual instruments and editing software really help us these days. I do however still love writing with pencil and paper and hope to find a project where I can do that again.

Have you got a last unpublished note or a nice info for our readers, to finish this interview?

I’d say thanks for the support. I love the fans!

Fabrice Steurer in collaboration with Christine Blanc

Special Thanks: Andy (C.C.)

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