Interview: Ramin Djawadi
Mon, 08 Apr 2013 09:48:13
Composer Ramin Djawadi is the man behind the music for HBO's sprawling epic, Game of Thrones. He's managed to do the seemingly impossible as well. His score weaves into the massive and bombastic scenes with equal power, but he reels back and elegantly punctuates the more somber moments with appropriately pensive fare. He's one of the most emotionally "in tune" composers out there, and every score he does remains impressive and unforgettable.
In this exclusive interview, Ramin Djawadi talks to ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino about Game of Thrones, Pacific Rim, and so much more.
Do the characters or the story exert a bigger impact on your musical choices? Is it a combination of both?
It really depends. For example, in the case of Game of Thrones, it's a little bit of both. There are so many characters and locations. When we started on the show, we sat down and decided that we had to be really careful. We couldn't have too many character themes or themes in general because there are a million things going on. We tried to be clever about having themes for the different houses like the Stark family and the Lannisters as well as certain locations and plot points. It happens wherever we feel the story wants the support from the music to steer the audience into a direction.
The world is so immersive and emotional that the music must mirror that.
Exactly! In Season 3, the character development is unbelievable. In Season 1, I didn't even have a theme for Theon. However, in Season 2, his character blew up so much that we created a theme specifically for him. That's been a lot of fun from season to season. We'll see who they're focusing on now and go with it.
The music is orchestral and massive, but it's still intimate. Is finding a sonic balance important?
Yeah, that's another great thing about the show. It's obviously dialogue- and character-driven. In the early episodes, there's not much music. For a TV show, there are lot of moments without music. Then, as the story grows in the later episodes, the music picks up as does the size of the score. Underneath the dialogue, you don't want to be full. As the plot expands, there are bigger musical moments. It works really well in this.
What character are you particularly drawn to?
There are a lot of great characters but maybe Daenerys Targaryen. I love watching how her power grows and grows to that amazing finale at the end of the first season. Thematically, I'm adding an ethnic element to her musically. Her journey is very interesting. When you watch the first episode, you have no idea she's going to turn into this powerful character. Everybody loves Tyrion Lannister though too [Laughs].
What else has changed this time around?
Sticking with the characters and the plot, it guides me where we go musically. There's a different focus on different characters. The development leads the score. In a way, it gets grander and grander. It's nice to have themes recurring and develop them further.
How are you approaching Pacific Rim?
It's been so fun working on it! We're actually about to score. With what you can see in the trailers, it's a big action adventure film. There's a lot of action. We're using a big orchestra, and it's going to be huge. I'm doing some traditional stuff as well as some more rock- and electronic-oriented stuff. It's a nice combination.
Who have you been listening to lately?
When I drive home from the work, I have the classical station on. Johannes Brahms might be one of my favorites, but sometimes I switch to a rock channel. It goes back and forth.
Do you dig his scores?