Music News
5:04 am
Sun May 4, 2014

Hear Hans Zimmer's Bid For The Next Great Screen Composer

Originally published on Sun May 4, 2014 1:06 pm

Crimson Tide, The Lion King, Inception, Gladiator — that's just a handful of the many movies that feature award-winning scores by Hans Zimmer. Lately, Zimmer has lent his ear to soundtracks written by a new generation of aspiring film composers. He's been judging a contest for the Bleeding Fingers Custom Music Shop, a production house in Santa Monica that makes music for reality TV shows — everything from Duck Dynasty to Survivor.

The winning composer, Zimmer announced today on Weekend Edition Sunday, is Daniel Suett, a 22-year-old Londoner fresh out of the Leeds College of Music. His reward — beyond enviable for a recent college graduate — is a job, working for Bleeding Fingers as a staff composer.

"For me, it's always been interesting to find new voices and develop new talent," Zimmer told NPR's Rachel Martin. "What interests me is just people being given a chance to write music, because the only way you can get better at it is if you write all the time. I think it'll prove a very good sort of training ground for everybody, and it gives purpose behind actually wanting to be a composer."

Suett joined Zimmer on the air to put his entry, based on a short piece Zimmer wrote for the entrants to interpret, in context.

"With film music, you're writing something that only suits the film, whereas TV music tends to follow trends of whatever music is kind of riding at the time," Suett explained. "I was trying to see how many styles I could get out of one piece of music, and how different I could make each one."

"What I was really looking for," Zimmer added, "and what I didn't, of course, tell anybody, is: Take that piece of music and ignore it as much as possible. Fight with the music; go and put your own stamp onto it. Figure out how to be original."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

"Crimson Tide." "The Lion King." "Inception." "Gladiator." That is just a handful of movies featuring award-winning scores by Hans Zimmer. Lately, Zimmer has lent his ear to soundtracks written by a new generation of aspiring film composers. He's been judging a contest for the Bleeding Fingers Custom Music Shop, a production house in Santa Monica that makes music for reality TV shows, everything from "Duck Dynasty" to "Survivor."

The contest has been narrowed down to three finalists. And in just a moment, Hans Zimmer will announce the winner to us right here on WEEKEND EDITION. Mr. Zimmer joins us from the studios of NPR West. Welcome to the program.

HANS ZIMMER: Thank you for having us.

MARTIN: Mr. Zimmer, the contestants submitted over 6,400 scores to SoundCloud. What were you looking for in the music?

ZIMMER: What interests me is just people being given a chance to write music because the only way you can get better at it is if you write all the time. And I think it will prove a very good sort of training ground for everybody and it gives purpose behind actually wanting to be a composer.

MARTIN: So our winner is waiting in the wings. But before you announce who it is, Hans Zimmer, you wrote a piece of music that contestants were asked to then use as source material, as inspiration. Let's take a listen to a little bit of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF HANS ZIMMER COMPOSITION)

MARTIN: Now if that doesn't sound like an epic film, I don't know what does. So that's what contestants had to work with. And now a little drumroll. Who was the winner?

ZIMMER: Clearly it was Daniel Suett, whose music is absolutely amazing.

MARTIN: Daniel Suett, who is there in the studio with you. Daniel, congratulations.

DANIEL SUETT: Thank you very much.

MARTIN: So you submitted an amazing range of entries based on Mr. Zimmer's musical theme. We have put together a little montage that gives a sense of your submission. Let's take a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF DANIEL SUETT COMPOSITION)

MARTIN: It is amazing to me that out of that one sample that all those different sounds occurred to you. What were you looking to showcase through your submission, Daniel?

SUETT: Well, I think with TV music, it's different to film music in a way that with film music, you're writing something that only suits the film, whereas TV music tends to follow trends of whatever music is kind of riding at the time. So I was trying to see how many styles I could get out of one piece of music and how different I could make each one.

MARTIN: And, Hans Zimmer, what impressed you about what Daniel had done?

ZIMMER: It was his playfulness. What I was really looking for and what I didn't, of course, tell anybody, is take that piece of music and ignore it as much as possible. You know, fight the piece of music. Don't put your own stamp on it, figure out how to be original. You know, and this sounds sort of strange but, you know, I needed to hear a bit of a sense of humor in it, as well. You know, I needed to hear some recklessness.

(SOUNDBITE OF DANIEL SUETT COMPOSITION)

COMPUTERIZED SPEAKER: (As Daniel Suett) It's time to reveal what Hans Zimmer is really paid to do.

MARTIN: Daniel, you also submitted an entry as part of this you described as a little bit tongue-in-cheek where you poke fun at Hans Zimmer, which is fairly bold.

(SOUNDBITE OF DANIEL SUETT COMPOSITION)

ZIMMER: My job is to make coffee.

MARTIN: Is that really your voice, Hans?

ZIMMER: Yeah, it really is. God, I can't - I don't even know when I said - I should ask you where you found it.

(LAUGHTER)

ZIMMER: But, you know, it's great because, you know, it's something I like.

(SOUNDBITE OF DANIEL SUETT COMPOSITION)

ZIMMER: I am here to make coffee in the right way.

MARTIN: So Daniel, you graduated just last year, I understand, from Leeds College of Music in the UK.

SUETT: Yes, in July.

MARTIN: Now as winner of this contest, you are offered this opportunity to work as a staff composer at Bleeding Fingers, which is a pretty big deal. I imagine you have to be kind of thrilled, right?

SUETT: Yes, understatement of the year, I think. Anyone that's trying to break into that kind of industry, they will know that it's almost like winning the lottery for composers. And as well, I've met a lot of people that are involved with the company now.

I've met Hans. I've met Russell and everyone that supports them. And everyone just seems so chilled out, so friendly. And they all love what they do. And I straight away felt this is somewhere I can be at home, I can be myself, which I thought was very important.

MARTIN: Composer Hans Zimmer and contest winner Daniel Suett joined us from our studios at NPR West. Thanks to you all, and Daniel, congratulations again.

SUETT: Thank you very much.

ZIMMER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF DANIEL SUETT COMPOSITION)

COMPUTERIZED SPEAKER: (As Daniel Suett) One last curveball.

MARTIN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF DANIEL SUETT COMPOSITION)

COMPUTERIZED SPEAKER: (As Daniel Suett) This is my eighth entry to this contest and by this point, my fingers genuinely feel like they're bleeding. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.