Amazing singer/songwriter Paul Westerberg had been working on songs for the movie for quite some time. When it came to scoring the movie, I was offered to join the team. It was a great collaboration. Paul had already written a lot of beautiful themes that were very useful for the score.
It probably has the most variety of solo instruments that I have done so far. The overdub process alone of recording mandolins, fiddle, pipes, etc. took more than a solid three weeks. It was a blast as there seemed to be no boundaries in terms what instruments would work. We kept having more and more ideas.
It was wonderful to get his view of the movie and his input on the music. This also is a good example from the earlier question regarding my relationship with Hans. As Roger and Hans had already worked together, I talked with Hans before I even met Roger. During the first music meeting Hans came in and it was nice to see the two chat about the Lion King. It was a really nice experience to work with Roger.
How much time did you have to compose your score?
At first I only had about a month and a half, which would have been really tight. Fortunatley, the schedule extended a little bit and I had a couple more weeks. It still ended up being a very tight schedule as I had to do all the overdubs before we flew to London for the orchestra scoring.
There were some cues that Paul had already that worked really well. I would take those and orchestrated them. Most of them we’d sit down together and he would play guitar and I would play piano on the computer and map out cues. Then there were also some that I just did by myself. It was a fun collaboration as Paul had such a different approach about film scoring.
The idea about the score was to create a great mixture between orchestra and other instruments. The fact that I had a strong band background made the collaboration with Paul very comfortable.
We had a full size orchestra of about 70 people and recorded the score in London at Air Studios. There is some choir in the score that stayed electronic. 99% is all live.
We used electronics to create demos. 99% of that was replaced by live instruments. I have done a lot of projects where I use a lot of electronics. We wanted this score to be as live as possible.
We used Kazoos and recorded them ourselves. It was quite funny. Paul was able to reach some low octaves that were amazing. We also have some kids slide whistle in places and a thumbpiano for the porcupine.
Do you work differently for animation than for live action ?
Not really. I treat the comedy or serious action quite the same.
It’s a great style of writing, but I try not to write my scores that way. I try to avoid it as much as possible and experiment with other possiblities. I think there is plenty of other ways to underscore a scene and hitting all the important sync points without doing Mickey Mousing. Sometimes you are still asked to give it that feel though.
Can you tell me about your themes for the films?
We had themes for characters and actions and I tried to use whenever appropriate.
The ducks theme was played on kazoos. We had so much fun picking all these different solo instruments. The final battle is a great example of all of these elements coming together.