There are many times when we have watched a film or TV series, or have played a video game and liked certain compositions found within scenes, or parts of the entertainment in question. These are usually ones that stick in our minds as symbolic to the entertainment itself or at other times are due to the compositions being created by well-known composers.
Recently the soundtrack to 'The Crown: Season 2' was released; a epic masterpiece at that, the soundtrack itself devised by critically-acclaimed composers Lorne Balfe and Rupert Gregson-Williams and it is the former of who Global Mainstream Arts spoke to regarding his involvement in the making of the soundtrack, working in the past alongside fellow composer Hans Zimmer, how classical music and metal music relate and his future plans for 2018.
"the Proms to me are like a Yorkshire pudding or Quality Street at Christmas time, it is something that everybody has a memory of "
So Lorne, how did you get into writing and composing music productions, and are there any composers you aspire to whilst growing up?
"Well I got into it probably without planning to, my father was a composer so I was brought up amongst it (the music). I think career wise, I wasn't really aware of any other professions; music was just a very normal thing, so my surroundings were... we had a recording studio at our house that bands used to come and live there for months and months and record, the likes of Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath) and other bands who would used to come, stay and record so I always surrounded by music. I was very fortunate to be surrounded by that, so that's how it really all evolved really"
Presumably as Ozzy Osbourne had come to do some recordings, you had your first taste of Heavy Metal as well?
"Well (laughs) I was never really allowed, my memories were that I was never really allowed into the studio much and when I was I think my mother was always telling them about the swearing, so I was kept away from it really. But I think the main thing was that it was just being around musicians and being able to... I think the fortunate thing about it really was being around where it's just normal, I think that normally the arts is always regarded as a accepted form of normality"
On that note would you say classical and heavy metal music are closely related?
"Absolutely! One thing is that, I think that I wasn't always very aware of that when you're learning music, one of the most important things I was always told by music teachers was to practice your scales, because these are the rudiments of all music and it is, when you listen to a piece of classical music by Bach or a fugue, those connecting musical structures like scales are exactly what you would hear in heavy metal music. But the bigger picture is that they both give feeling and emotions to people and some people don't enjoy classical music, some people can only listen to heavy metal music so I think they both have the exact same pedigree and the same purpose."
Regarding 'The Crown: Season 2' what feeling(s) did you encounter when working on the soundtrack?
"I think that the subject matter is always fascinating and I think that when you look at something like 'The Crown', what it has done is allowed us to be invited into this world that we never really fully used to know. We were always kind of an outsider and there's very few families and people of that stature that we don't know about, we maybe get to read about them, but because of privacy it's always been that what we know of them is basically what we were allowed to know of them. I think that no matter what happens we can all relate to them, I think that's the main point, that even though they are of a different situation because they are royalty, the problems that they face in life aren't the same as the ones you and I would have."
And how did you go about composing the soundtrack? Was it across the season or episode-by-episode (thus drawing emotions out)?
"By watching the second season, that's how you write the score really. The second season as we know is heavily focused on Philip, but it's also focusing on Queen Elizabeth II because she is now running the British Empire. I think that she was the one, was more about the journey of the creation of the Queen and now she is practising. So I think you get your inspirations from each episode.
I hope so (drawing out characters emotions through the music)! That's the aim, I think that the point of it is to try to and always be in the point of 'The Crown' musically, to musically show the inner strength of these characters because again they are in a role that none of us can relate to, but their journey and their self-journeys and developments are exactly what we all go through; heartache, falling in love, it's all something we can relate to so I think that after a while the music starts creating a weight, because that weight is really the responsibility that they have. So you get inspiration from that."
As a composer you've worked on other major titles like 'Dunkirk', 'Churchill', 'Terminator: Genisys', 'The Lego Batman Movie', what challenges do you face with each production?
"I think that you get the same challenges, every single project is always different and I think it's the same way even if you were working on a video game, everything is different but you have the same challenges. Those challenges are do you look at that screen and that story, I think that it is the same musical journey you have if I'm looking at 'The Crown' as I would if I was looking at 'The Lego Batman Movie', totally different characters and totally different music but the point of it is to try and create a musical narrative of their stories, so they all have different complications but it's their agenda that helps tell the story"
During the creation of 'The Crown Season 2' soundtrack, were there any points at which you weren't happy with the composition and adjusted accordingly?
"Yes, constantly. I think that if it doesn't then you're not developing, those characters develop and their emotional path is constantly evolving so you have to musically. I think that it's always hard when you create an idea and then to walk away from it, it's hard but I think it's the best thing and especially with 'The Crown' where there are certain themes; Margaret's theme, Prince Philip's theme, etc., it's always a struggle to create a piece of music that represents that character because firstly they're living characters; same as when I worked on the 'Churchill' movie, they're real and I think that to write a piece of music for a character that is real is to me always much harder because more people are able to relate to them; so you have to be aware of that."
Your first film 'Megamind' saw you work alongside Hans Zimmer, what was he like to work with? Did you feel any pressure working alongside him?
"Well I had worked with Hans a long time even before that, I think I've worked with Hans for maybe like 15 years, I'm trying to think what it was like working on 'Megamind' it seems such a long time ago (8 years). I think I worked for about 5 years with him before then, so in regards to what it was like working on 'Megamind' I love animation, Hans has created some of the best scores for animation (I think) when you look at the likes of 'Kung Fu Panda', 'Madagascar', etc., he really is an amazing composer and what I think I learned from him was to not keep animation like it's for children because the stories are ageless concepts and topics, working on something like that you learn a lot because it's not just about children; that's how I always have treated animations, on 'The Lego Batman Movie' I was very aware that yes children watch it, but it does not mean you have to write childish music.
Pressure? Well probably, I think going back so many years ago, Hans wasn't as famous as he is now so I think it was a different time. Now he is a global rock god. I think it was a different period of time, it's always fascinating even now when I still write with him, I still work with him, seeing how totally down-to-earth and a humble human being in regards to how he acts; which I always find fascinating compared to what he has to gain."
It's like the Disney films, where the music and morals stay with us forever, even as adults.
"Yeah! I remember being at school when 'The Lion King' came out and I loved it, and I have that same feeling now as an adult when 'The Lion King' is on TV, it's that total sense of fantasy and escapism that you can't always get with a live-action film."
What was working on 'Terminator: Genisys' like, given the magnitude of the franchise?
"It was a life-long achievement, very very few films that have got that pedigree and that was one of them, I think that you're always smiling when you're being able to touch... I think it's a privilege to be invited into those families and I think that's how I look at it because you've got the history of those characters but also it's the musical world. Brad Fiedel's theme for Terminator is so iconic, the feeling you get from it is so iconic so to be able to be allowed to use it is such a privilege and I do always feel that it is part of that feeling of being invited into the family; it's a great privilege".
With the TV series and films you've worked on, do you get to meet the cast and crew members?
"No, my life is never that exciting. I've just finished a fantastic Jerry Bruckheimer film called '12 Strong' and the premiere was in New York last night (16/1/18) and I'm not at it, I'm in my studio writing for another film, it's not very exciting. Don't get into this career if you want to have a great social life. Thinking about how long I've been composing, it's a privilege and I think the fact that really it's a hobby that you get paid for, I could never imagine doing anything else. I absolutely love movies, love watching them and feeling that escapism you get from them, I love being able to write music to movies, I don't think I'd ever want to write music that isn't connected to an actual story."
Given your passion for TV and film scoring and composing, would you love to take this to the BBC proms?
"Without a doubt! That would be definitely one of the few invitations that I definitely wouldn't turn down, because I think that the Proms to me are like a Yorkshire pudding or Quality Street at Christmas time, it is something that everybody has a memory of and being British I have great memories of watching it on the TV and also going to. The proms are like video games, to me the proms have managed to remove the elitism of music and allow everybody to enjoy it and it doesn't have to be seen as some stuck-up type of music, it can be enjoyed by all."
Well certainly songs like 'Auld Lang Syne' are enjoyed by all worldwide.
"Yeah, yeah, even though I think a recent survey said that a majority now do not know the words, the majority of millennials do not know the actual words of that song anyway."
What plans do you have for the year ahead? Are there any TV / Film productions that you are working on that you're allowed to say?
"Well (laughs) I wouldn't get paranoid and secret in case it goes wrong, I just finished a fantastic TV series on ITV and Netflix called 'Marcella' with Anna Friel in it and that is on the second season now and will be coming out I think February; it's a great show and Anna is brilliant in it. It's a great story and a great character. There's a fantastic movie that I am working on at the moment that will come out in the summer but I won't tempt fate and say what the name is, but again I am just so proud and privileged to be working on it because it again is one of the situations of a very iconic film franchise and to be able to be a part of it now is fantastic."