Please enjoy our latest 5 questions with composer George Streicher who recently scored the animated film Howard Lovecraft & The Frozen Kingdom.
1. How were you approached to create the music for Howard Lovecraft & The Frozen Kingdom?
GS: I was approached to do the score for Howard Lovecraft through many, many emails. Sean, the director, had reached out to me after seeing some of my work online. I think it was one particular cue of mine that stood out to him - something very dark-fantasy driven - very much Elfman-ish. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to write music in that style for a Lovecraft feature - it was right up my alley. Not to mention - this was my first feature film score!
2. Did the director give you any interesting instructions or feedback to help you create the tonal palate?
GS: I went into it knowing he probably wanted something that felt very mysterious and Burton-y. There was some temp track used in earlier cuts, but I kind of ignored it for the most part. I'm lucky that I had a director that let me pretty do whatever I wanted and guided me in the right direction where needed. Being a huge Williams/Goldsmith fan, I couldn't help but bring some of that flavor to the score. Those aspects definitely come out in some of the more action-adventure driven cues in the film. But for the most part, I tried to keep things light - it is a movie for kids, after all. However, I think I went as close to creepy as I could in some of the darker scenes - especially the music I wrote for "The Asylum" cues. What fun is a movie for kids without a little "creepy" vibe to it?
3. Which scene did you score first and why?
GS: The first scene I scored was the opening shot, where the camera flies into the window of the house and we meet Howard for the first time. I'd been writing themes and playing with other ideas before, but I wanted to use that to really set the tone. I wanted to make sure it informed the audience that the score would be big and that there would be some scale to the movie; of course then bringing it down to a more restrained tone. I thought it was important to set that up - especially since most of the beginning of the movie is more subtle and eerie.
4. What kind of ensemble did you use to record the score? Did you use any interesting or unusual instrumentation or soloists who deserve a shout-out?
GS: I did something I'd never tried before - which is combine live musicians with sampled orchestral libraries. I contracted a handful of musicians from all over the world and sent them the score, the mocked-up cues with click track and had them record their parts. For example, I had one Brass player record all the French Horn and Trumpet parts which I then replaced the sampled brass with in the final cue. For the strings, I layered in live solo recordings with the samples to add authenticity and emotion. For the most part, I kept the orchestration traditional, which wouldn't have sounded half as good if it wasn't for Andrew Osano, our orchestrator. I occasionally added in some synth effects where necessary. As for the live musicians, I really have to give a HUGE thanks to them all for bringing so much to the score. It's amazing how much a difference a single live musician can make to a cue. It's tremendous. I'd also like to thank composer Christopher L. Stone for giving me some pointers on breaking down a score structure - that really helped me get through writing my first feature score.
5. What does it mean to you to have you music released by preeminent soundtrack label Varèse Sarabande?
GS: It's honestly a bit of a dream come true. I've followed their releases for a while and I'm always browsing through their collection of soundtrack albums. It's a huge honor to be released on the same label as some of my favorite film composers - namely Michael Giacchino. If this is the only soundtrack album I ever release, I'd feel very accomplished!