Interview with Composer Dirk Leupolz!
5 Minutes with Dirk Leupolz
Composer of BERLIN – Contemporary Cinematic from Sonic Quiver
Dirk Leupolz is a German composer living and working in Berlin since 1993. He has composed more than 100 episodes of Germany’s top-rated crime series for all major TV networks and more than 35 movies. He was nominated for the prestigious Grimme-Award and is a recipient of the Deutsche Fernsehpreis, the highest rated Award for TV in Germany.
Leupolz’s latest release is BERLIN – Contemporary Cinematic for Sonic Quiver, described as a stunning collection of contemporary cinematic cues from the award-winning German film and TV composer Dirk Leupolz. Chilling thriller, epic trailer, enigmatic crime, modern warfare, ethereal sci-fi and romantic drama. Recorded with live orchestra, orchestrated by Johannes Vogel.
Q: Can you briefly speak about your music background and how you got into music composition?
DL: I had classical piano lessons from 6-16, but once I discovered Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page and Andy Summers I switched to guitar.Played in lots of (bad) bands, studied BeBop Guitar in Cologne for two years from 90-92, worked as a music journalist and producer for a couple of years when I came to Berlin, but desperately wanted to get back to playing and writing music.
After seeing the movie Mullholland Falls in 96 with a great score from Dave Gruisin I naively thought I should try out this”film-music thing”, and somehow got stuck with it.
Q: I see you have over 60 instruments – what are you favourites and why?
DL: I guess it´s a bit like asking which of your children is your favourite – I love them all, but definitely have a soft spot for my old rattly gretsch, gibson and fender guitars (Yeah, I´m bragging, I know)
Q: Which music composers do you admire and which of their works?
DL: Too many to mention – I like all the big Hollywood composers very much, but I usually don´t listen to film music too much.I seem to be a big fan of The Police since I was 11. Here are my favourite tracks of the moment:
- Disasterpeace – Vignette:Panacea
- Nick Cave + Warren Ellis – Memory
- Soundgarden – My Wave
- Brahms – Symphony 3 Poco Allegretto Gustavo Santaolalla – Atacama
- Paul Kalkbrenner – Acces RapideMiles Davis – So What
- Grauzone- Eisbär
- Club der toten Dichter – Schon mal gelebt?
I also really like John M Keane and Sean Callery – they did the music for CSI and 24 and totally changed the game with their cool atmospheric sound-design attitude towards scoring. The scores from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis are awesome. I could go on for hours…
Q: Where was the album recorded? What can you tell us about that experience?
DL: I have a studio full of hoarded instruments in Berlin and a tiny composing room in the countryside. I wrote and recorded piano, synths, guitars etc in both places. I played some guitarviol tracks and did an orchestral mockup, which we happily replaced with live players which we recorded in Budapest.
Q: What was your favorite part of working on this project?
DL:To have total creative freedom inside the given parameters (Urban modern drama if I remember correctly) and not writing to picture, which in the end was quite a challenge, but was really enjoyable!Q: Did you have any collaborators?
DL: I composed and played all tracks and parts myself but then gladly handed over the orchestration to my good friend Johannes Vogel who has a ton of experience working with really good composers like both Gregson-Williams brothers, Hans Zimmer and David Newman. I was actually quite happy that he could make the time for somebody like me!Together we recorded the brilliant Hungarian Studio Orchestra who played their hearts out.
Q: How do you find the inspiration for writing an album like Berlin? What can you tell us about your creative process?
DL: Not too much, I´m afraid. Whenever I sit down at my old Yamaha CP 70 piano I always seem to find some unused notes between the keys that I can turn into a melody…My creative process is buried deeply in my subconscious mind and I´m just trying not to interfere with myself whilst writing.
Q: Berlin is a varied album of ‘contemporary cinematic’ cues not all ‘epic trailer’. Describe a few of the different vibes and genres you focused on.
DL: We wanted the album to have an modern atmospheric and emotional feel, that sometimes would turn dark with tension + suspense and sometimes have a little more light and beauty.
Q: What are your future goals?
DL: It would be a privilege if I could continue with what I´ve been doing over the years. And if I could get the tomatoes in our garden to grow a little more I´d be the happiest man around.
BERLIN – Contemporary Cinematic, Dirk Leupolz
2 The listening tower
3 Terror plot
4 The ultimate price
5 Decipher the code
6 Berlin Dawn
8 Life and Light
9 Borders between us