Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park Talks Scoring "The Raid", Action Movies, "Music For Relief" and Writing Music
Mon, 24 Oct 2011 07:22:40
Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park never stops.
He's constantly pushing the envelope musically and immersing himself in new challenges. As an artist, he personifies the word "progress". His latest undertaking is the powerful, propulsive, and poignant score for the Indonesian action film, The Raid. Shinoda composed the music for the movie, matching the action with an equally energetic and otherworldly sonic counterpart.
On Linkin Park's latest offering, last year's A Thousand Suns, he and his bandmates altered the course of rock as a whole, burning as bright as ever. Now, he's bringing that perspective to the world of film scoring with The Raid.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino, Mike Shinoda discusses how he created his score for "The Raid", action movies, what's up next for Music For Relief, and more.
Visit Mike Shinoda's official site here! You'll be able to hear the score and see the film soon. Also, visit Linkin Park's official site here!
When scoring The Raid, did the characters or the plot exert a bigger influence on the music? How did both cinematic elements impact your sonic choices?
I tried to take it all into account and represent both the characters and their story. That's actually one thing that's notable about this film. It actually has both plot and characters—not just the action! I've wanted to score for film for a long time, but I never got the urge to actually pull the trigger…until seeing The Raid. There was something about the look and action of this film that I felt inspired by, almost like writing music for choreography that's already been set. The fighting and the action in this movie are almost like a dance—albeit a nasty, bloody one!
When working along with footage, was it easier to punctuate certain moments and make the music more dramatic?
I want to give people a big, modern, and memorable sound. At the same time, I tried to find a nice balance between the moments when the music plays a supporting role and blends into the background, versus the moments when the music can jump out front with a signature flavor. Especially in the big fight scenes, I wanted those scenes to be visually and musically brutal.
Does writing a score come from a different creative place than writing a song? With scoring a film you're working with existing art whereas a song starts with you.
Absolutely! Writing a song, for me, is often about telling a personal story through memorable, catchy words and music. In a film, the majority of the effort is to support what's already going on, without distracting. Often, the techniques I might use to create a catchy "hook" would actually take away from a scene. They would be far too distracting, and you would miss what's going on in the story. I made this mistake a few times in early pieces I tried to fit to picture while working on The Raid!
The action is incredible in the film. Did that lend itself to the more up-tempo music?
Of course, but the film needed a ton of music—over 50 minutes of it—which means we couldn't just ride up-tempo music the whole time. It would be exhausting and one-dimensional. So I had to find ways of making the score shift gears, weaving and turning with the action to keep it interesting.
Did you get to try anything musically in the score that you'd never done before in terms of instrumentation or production?
One of the things that I decided to do early on was essentially abandon the use of electric guitars in this score. Guitars seemed to take it in a mookish, ostentatious direction, which is not the tone of this film. But there are moments when the score wanted to get super heavy, so I achieved it by making my own super-distorted percussive and melodic sounds. I also enlisted the help of Joe Trapanese, who was Daft Punk's scoring partner on Tron: Legacy. He's from a composer / arranger background, and we played off each other's ideas really well.
What spoke to you the most about The Raid? Did you grow up watching a lot of action movies?
The first R-rated movies I ever saw were probably The Terminator, Commando, and Rambo. That era was really fun, as a kid. I have no idea what the music was like in those films, come to think of it…I was definitely just watching the action!
What's next with Music For Relief?
We're still working in Haiti and Japan, helping with rebuilding efforts in both countries. We recently did a concert at the smallest venue we've played in more than half a decade, to support Japan. Fans raised over $350,000 for the cause, and the top fundraisers got tickets to the small show. Then, when we were in Japan on tour, we visited some of the tsunami-affected schools where the money has bought school supplies for the kids. It was an amazing, sobering experience. You should check out the videos and stories about this effort on MusicForRelief.org.
Have you begun writing for the next Linkin Park record? Did The Raid inspire that process at all?
We are always writing. I'm not sure how my participation on The Raid might affect the next Linkin Park album…we'll have to wait and see. Hopefully, the wait won't be too long.
Are you excited to hear Mike Shinoda's score for The Raid?
Mike Shinoda talks some of his favorite composers here!
See our review of Linkin Park's cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" here!
See our retrospective piece on Linkin Park's Reanimation here!
Watch our interview with Linkin Park's Chester Bennington about A Thousand Suns here!