Interview with Steve Brookfield
A new interview with the british film composer Steve Brookfield. An interesting talk about why he likes jazz influences in his music, composing trailer music is like stacking shelves in a supermarket and why he would not join Hans Zimmer’s RCP.
Trailer Music Vibe: How are you, Steve?
Steve Brookfield: Very good, busy in the studio as always.
Do you have some projects you are working on right now?
I’m currently working on two projects at the moment, one being my next album, its a Jazz influenced album, with symphony orchestra and solo instruments, like guitar, trumpet, saxaphone & piano and drums, its based around the idea of film music but with a jazz influence.
How did you come up with the idea of the jazz influence?
I have many influences in music, my taste is quite out their in what I listen to, everything from classical-jazz-drum & bass-singer songwriter- rock like porcupine tree & radio head, foo fighters and Bjork, to name a few. But jazz influenced is something I’ve always leaned that way in some compositions I have written over the years so I wanted to explore that territory.
Do you have some idols of jazz music then? Or of film music?
I like the lyrical edge of jazz and love writing for strings etc so it seemed a good plan. One of the jazz composers and arrangers I love the work of is Vince Mendoza, Vince’s arrangements pop up in a lot of the other music I listen to, he did Dancer in the dark string arrangments on Bjork’s album. He also arranged for Joni Mitchells both sides now album which was reorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, he’s a huge influence, also in the jazz world the usual kind of supsect’s miles davis, chick corea, herbie hancock, brian blade the list goes on, film wise, I’m into some of the classic writers like John Williams but also love work of people like Jon Brion who always bring something new to the table. I kind of like this idea.
Talking about classic film music; for which movie you would love to compose if you would have been asked?
Well that’s a difficult question, as you know I wrote for a stage play of “Dracula”, I avoided listening to anyone else’s score when I was doing that. It was a few months after the dust had settled that I looked into other versions like Wojciech Kilar, and John Williams, their very different from what I did but worked just the same with the film, although, using the Annie Lennox song in the Bram Stokers version as the end of the film felt like a complete cop out to me,. I would never of chosen that I would of wanted to kept it original from start to finish. So its hard cause I can’t think of a movie where I didn’t think the writer got it wrong! I like something new I suppose it what i’m trying to say.
Can you tell us about your work for ‘Dracula’? How did you come to this job?
I got to meet the director through a visit to see a friend, it was quite bizzare really, she told me what she was doing and we exchanged contact info, I heard back from her a month later, and she started to email me the script; in some cases just the synopsis of the scene in some cases, but I wrote from the script and conversations we had on the phone, it was a very intense time, took about 5 months from start to finish, those kind of things leave you a little be reffed when completed, but was a great story to write for, one of my favorites when growing up with the likes of hammer house of horror.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but so far you was only composing film music. Ever thought about try to compose a trailer music track?
Good question, it seems these days that actually trailer music is where the money is, for me writing trailer music is like stacking shelves in a supermarket, it all has a format and has to do something bigger and better than the trailer before, but the boundaries are very limiting and kind of once you’ve heard one you’ve heard them all, you have to be a certain type of person to get off on doing that stuff, its not for me, my background is to diverse. The one thing I love about music is that every instrument in the whole world is a tool… a color. So I use everything that is available to me in doing what I do, and doing what I do I like to bring melody to film, film to songs its what I do.
So, you are also more a fan of orchestral pieces, or do you prefer synthesized music?
To answer your question…I love both as much as each other, if it works without synths just as orchestral…great if synths are just on their own and it works great, but a combination of both and it works then even better. I have no preference when writing I always do whats best for the music. I do love the beauty of orchestra though its very powerful.
Did you ever work with a real orchestra? If so, how was the atmosphere?
I’ve never got to record with a full orchestra of what I write but have worked with many over the years, its a great experience being in a room with that sound. Its huge!
Now we already know what your favorite film composers are. But…what is your most favorite film soundtrack, and why?
Ooh that’s tricky, I suppose I would have 3. First being “Halloween”, John Carpenter, he really got the atmosphere right in that film, its amazing for its time and the short cues work like a dream. “Star Wars” is another because I think the writing and character pieces are just amazing it steers the film amazingly. Third would be “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind”, the writing of Jon Brion, that is a wicked film that is so well directed and acted but the music is so emotive and really strikes a chord with what I like, its stunning that film with soundtrack to match.
Seems you are more a fan of older soundtracks then. Is also your favorite movie one of the three mentionend movies?
Oh how could I forget “Schindler’s List”, with John Williams, this is one of my favourite soundtracks too. I think the ones that stand out for me are the ones that left a imprint in my mind, so yes the four I have mentioned their effect has stayed with me. I suppose there are others which have been really great but I think these have had a lasting impression on me.
If Hans Zimmer would ask you to join his ‘Remote Control Productions’, would you do it?
No, I think if you read my “about me” on my homepage (editor’s note: link of it at the end of the interview) you would find that I have more to give than just that, as a composer and producer, I work in many areas of music and try to bring film music to songs and songs to film music. I like to work with different kinds of stuff not just film, but artist’s too. But like to dip into all the things I love about music and try and get it all together, its a weird world I work in but very satisfying.
Thank you very much for taking the time, Steve!
Steve Brookfield’s homepage: stevebrookfield.co.uk
Steve Brookfield’s soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/steve-brookfield
Steve Brookfield’s facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Steve-Brookfield/226531370708063