Kevin Kiner (Composer - 'Star Wars: Clone Wars')
'The Star Pupil Returns!'
Award-winning composer Kevin Kiner has recently been recording his orchestral score for the upcoming animated feature film “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is the first in a series of animated Star Wars films, as the rest of the series will be broadcast on television. Kevin Kiner is best known for his score to “Wing Commander.”
His versatility has also allowed him to score films from various genres including the horror film “Leprechaun,” the popular “Star Trek: Enterprise” TV series and the comedy “The Pest” as well as the thrilling, dramatic series “CSI Miami.”
Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your compositions today? [Kevin Kiner] "I started in rock playing as a guitarist for a lot of different bands. My main influences as I was growing up were “Yes”, “Pink Floyd” “The Eagles” “The Beatles” “The Stones” “Black Sabbath” “ELP” “ELO” “Uriah Heep” “BB King” etc. anything with a great guitar part that I could be the hero on. As I grew up, I got heavily influenced by jazz greats like Howard Roberts, Les Paul, Wes Montgomery, and even sax players like Charlie Parker and Dizzie.
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying some of your previous soundtrack works, which one would you yourself advise them to listen to? "Probably the best melodies I’ve written were on “The Other Side of Heaven” a very sweet, Americana kind of score. “Wing Commander” has some cool action sequences (check out “Battle Stations – David Arnold swore I ripped it off from James Horner – but if I did it was subliminal, because I have no idea what cue he thinks I ripped) "Madison” also has some fun action in it.”
For your work on 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' you were given the chance to be the very first to score the first in a series of animated Star Wars films. Did you greet the opportunity with open arms or severe trepidation?! "Of course, both. Fear and excitement are a big part of the creative process, and this project had a good amount of both of those emotions (to say the least)."
"I’ve always been a fan of John Williams. I believe he will be recognized as one of the great composers of our time – not just film composers – but one of the greatest, if not THE greatest composer period. His ability to create memorable melodies and motifs is unparalleled. So melody was very important to me. However, since there is so much action in this film, the frenetic pace and tempo sometimes dictate less melodic development than the live action films had, also the fast pace of scene changes inherent in an animated show have the same effect. But we do have some cool new themes (at least I think so)."
Indeed, how easy (or hard) is it to constantly create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments/arrangements that preceded it within the industry? "I don’t think anyone can surpass Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams…..etc. We can only follow the path of art and human interest and try to be as good as they were when they were doing the same."
"I’m a rockin’ roller with a deep interest in classical music. I hope that those interests come through in my compositions, and you can all groove on it. Having said that, I do I do believe there is perfect, or almost perfect music. And every morning I walk into my studio and hope for the next “bit of perfection” that I can come up with. Maybe it’s just a pipe dream, but dreaming is not so bad."
Did George Lucas have any say re: the score or was it all down to you from the very start? And if the latter is true did you watch the other Star Wars films again to get a feel for where you had to be? "Everyone agreed that we should not be taken out of the Star Wars universe. John Williams helped George create that, and we were intent on doing justice to what he had started with the first six films. At the same time, George in particular is very keen on experimenting with different idioms."
"He would bring me a track that his kids were listening to as a reference to what was “happening” now with young people, and ask if it was feasible to incorporate some element of that into the score. George is also very into ethnic modalities and textures – particularly percussion, and I have used a lot of ethnic instruments and drums in the score – something that will differentiate this score from the live action scores."
You also, which I don't think everyone knows, score TVs 'CSI - Miami.' Known for all its fast-paced scenes and accompanying music, just how did you get involved in TV work ... and have you ever turned down a TV project only to regret it later? "CSI: Miami, is one of the best scoring experiences I’ve ever had. I am constantly pushed to come up with new, cutting edge ideas. I think that I would only be half the writer I am now, had I not landed that gig – and it still rocks."
"To answer your question: I think that if you are a working composer and Jerry Bruckheimer calls and asks you to score his show……….. you call back pretty fast. I said to George the other day “do you know that I’m working for Jerry Bruckheimer and George Lucas at the same time! That’s pretty kick ass if you ask me."
Are you working on a new soundtrack as we speak, perhaps? "Yes, but I have to keep quiet about it. Sorry……!"
What classic film score would you love to rearrange today in your own style if you were given the chance? "That’s just too loaded of a question for a guy whose better with music than he is with words. Star Wars was about as hard as it gets, so I think I’ll take a break – for now."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "I REALLY do! If they were an instrument, they would be an English Horn, because it can be whimsical and poignant at the same time. I also thought Alex Wurman did a very interesting job with that soundtrack (….wait I just went on itunes…..check out track 3 “The March – it’s an English horn!!)"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
So, if you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of the new 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' soundtrack signed by Kevin Kiner himself, just answer this easy question: This year Kevin Kiner won a BMI TV Music Award for his work on 'Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann'. But who did he share it with?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful AUTOGRAPHED CD soundtracks by Kevin Kiner! Just send us an e:mail here before October 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: SIGNED STAR WARS CLONE WARS CDs to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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