Int: Kevin Kliesch

The Arrow interviews Kevin Kliesch

Well I've had this interview in the bag for a while and decided to let it out now before it became too dated. Composer and Orchestror Kevin Kliesch composed the heart pounding scores for Patrick "class act" Luissier's Dracula 2 Ascension and Dracula 3 Legacy. I was waiting for Dimension Films to release the latter to slap up this interview (initial release date was October 2004) but it seems that they're sitting on it; just like 85% of their properties. Since Dracula 3; Kevin has composed for the recently released Fat Albert Movie and has acted as Orchestrator on the upcoming ELEKTRA. Here's what the kool dude had to say.

What’s your favorite horror movie?

You know, I don’t really have one. I was never a big fan of horror flicks. I was always into sci-fi growing up. If I really had to pick one, though, I think it might be Evil Dead. Groovy…

How did you get into this line of the biz; was it by stroke of luck or was it a long time objective?

I started writing music as a hobby when I was 13. I decided to go to Berklee College of Music when I was 17, and that’s when I discovered how much of a challenge writing music for picture was. After that, I knew that I would be doing this as a career.

I must commend you on your somber score for Dracula 2 Ascension and Dracula 3 Legacy; what is your process in terms of finding the right sound for a particular film?

It really has to do with what’s happening on screen. The story and characters, above all else, drive my choices in terms of melody, harmony, and orchestration. For Dracula 2, that choice was more complicated, since the score became so dependent on sound design. The director, Patrick Lussier, wanted a score that was very dark and moody. When I first started presenting him with ideas, he initially threw a lot of them out, since I was writing mostly melodies for the characters.

He would ask me to remove quite a bit of material and get to the essence of the scene, which involved boiling it down to creating moody sound design over low brass and string writing. Drac 3, on the other hand, was very much a location-based film (it takes place in Romania), so Patrick wanted that score to have more of an ethnic feel to it, while keeping the same creepy mood of the music I wrote for Drac 2.

Would you say the process is more technical than artistic or vice versa?

For me, it’s more artistic, but that’s not to say the technical side isn’t daunting. You’ve got to know your way around a computer rig pretty well, since the deadlines in this business are crazy, and you can’t afford to have anything go down. I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to computers (I chose music college over a computer science major), so it feels like second nature to me when I write. Because of that, I find the aesthetic decisions are much more of a challenge.

Is there a genre you’re more comfortable playing in when composing? Why?

I’ve always been a sucker for big, sweeping adventure scores. I’ve been lucky enough to have written for some movies in that style. With my background in orchestration, I feel very comfortable when I’m given the chance to write in that genre.

Of all the scores you have composed which one are you most proud of and why?

Dracula 2 is my current favorite, since I got to write for a huge “orchestra.” It was really 100% synthetic, but I fooled a lot of people into thinking that I had this 100-piece orchestra with a 50-member choir. I have a lot of experience doing “synthestration” (mocking up the score on synthesizers and samplers to sound exactly like it would coming from a real orchestra), so it came out sounding pretty close to a live orchestra.

I’m also really proud of the work I did with my “singers” on Drac 2 – I took some of the text that Dracula speaks in the movie (spoken in ancient Aramaic) and constructed the phrases vowel by vowel, consonant by consonant. That eventually turned into the main theme of the movie.

You’ve co-composed some scores with other composers. Do you find it tough to share the procedure with another artist?

No, it’s always a collaborative process from start to finish. We’ll make sure that we have the same sounds from the start, as well as sharing the themes we both come up with. Suggestions happen on both sides in terms of how to approach a scene, whether they be melodic, harmonic, or orchestrational.

What’s next on your plate in terms of cinematic work?

I just finished co-writing the score to the new Popeye special, which will be aired on Fox at Christmas. I also finished orchestrating the score to “Garfield: the Movie,” due out this month.

Is there a horror franchise out there that you’d love to contribute to and that you haven’t yet?

While I had a blast writing for the Dracula films, I’d like to branch out into different genres. Unfortunately, being typecast into one style seems to be how it goes here in Hollywood, so a lot of people will assume that I can only write horror music.

Do you have any other cinematic aspirations than composer or orchestrator?

I’d give my left arm to be Charlize Theron’s personal assistant for just one day. J

NICE! I'd give me left nut! See ya in line!

I'd like to thank Kevin for his time and would like to apologize to him for taking so long to slap up this interview. Sorry dude! Hopefully Dimension Films will get off their asses and release Dracula 3 on DVD before I'm too old to give a shite! It's a fine film.  




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