Marc Streitenfeld Talks "Prometheus", Working With Ridley Scott, and More
Thu, 28 Jun 2012 07:55:20
In order to match the epic grandeur and breathtaking visuals of Ridley Scott's Prometheus, composer Marc Streitenfeld approached the film's music with a groundbreaking mentality on par with that of the director. He embraced an arsenal of otherworldly sounds and juxtaposed them with staggering orchestral moments. As a result, he created one of the best film scores in recent memory and a testament to Scott's visionary work.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Marc Streitenfeld talks Prometheus, collaborating with Ridley Scott, and so much more.
What's your take on the Prometheus score as a whole?
It's always hard to say when you just came off a project. There are a lot of different colors in the music and big orchestral cues. Then, there are the texture-influenced pieces, special sounds, and little things I recorded over the months of working on this. I'm definitely quite happy with the balance between having those unusual sounds and the big orchestral moments.
The unorthodox sounds stand out when juxtaposed with the orchestral elements.
Right, they became an important part of the score. I spent a lot of time tweaking them. Some of them are very exposed on the big screen. They're used in a very deliberate way, and they need to spot-on. A lot of work and thought went into those exchanges with Ridley in order to get everything exactly the way we wanted it.
How do you create those sounds?
It's an on-going process. I try to keep open-minded about anything I hear throughout my day. When I step away from composing for a second, my head tunes into soaking everything up that could possibly be used for the score. I like to be involved in a project early on where I have a period of being able to create a vocabulary and take on things that could be important for a film. It could be something I read. Some of the sounds are a combination of common objects I've heard that have potential to be manipulated and create something unique when they come together. I use them in a musical way or pitch them in a sense you can actually play a motif or melody on something that wasn't an instrument before.
Was the character of David [Michael Fassbender] really tied to the music for you?
I would say he was an important inspiration for me as far as the score goes. Fassbender's performance is very strong. Obviously, it's a very important character in the film. It was impactful to see how a robot has one of the most interesting emotions come through in the movie. He's manipulative, but there's an emotional side to him. That was something I tried to capture with the score. There's a machine-like or mechanical quality that come with some of those motifs that go with David. Also, I felt there was a longing in him. I tried to bring that out and give him this emotional quality. It was important to see this character develop throughout the film. He's involved in some crucial plots of Prometheus.
What about Meredith Vickers [Charlize Theron]?
She was a cold character and very matter-of-fact. They called her the "ice queen" once. She provides a contrast to the Shaw character who's a warmer, emotion-driven person. They joke that she's a robot in the film. We tried to give her an icy quality with the music.
When did you first see Alien?
I was pretty freaked out when I first saw it. I actually watched in a basement of a school [Laughs]. It doesn't make much sense now, but I think it was part of English class to be honest. Walking out of that basement after the viewing, there were staircases and long hallways leading out and everybody was freaked. It must've been during my early teens.
Do you and Ridley Scott have a similar musical aesthetic?
This is the fifth film I'm doing with Ridley now. The communication is established. If you establish that dialogue with somebody, you can take chances and risks without being afraid to go to the extreme. You get an honest reaction. It's a great way of working. You can try a lot of things and make incredible progress.
Who are some of your favorite rock bands?
In terms of rock bands, my favorites were The Clash, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and the classic stuff from the '60s and '70s.
Have you heard the music for Prometheus? You can get the CD from ARTISTdirect.