Daniel Licht (Composer - 'Dexter')
'The Sounds and Smells of Dexter!'
The sound of the summer involves the scratch of duct tape, the tinkling of medical instruments and percussion of human and animal bones!
Composer Dan Licht who incorporates these sounds with traditional instrumentation for the Emmy winning Showtime series 'DEXTER' has two score releases available this season from Milan Records.
A score compilation from Seasons 2 and 3 are now accessible by iTunes and Amazon.com. A CD release of the Season 4 score was just released this past August 17th.
The 'DEXTER' Facebook page recently exploded with more than 148,000 fans responding to Milan Records offer of a free download of three tracks from Seasons 2 and 3 for one week. A similar offering of the Season 4 soundtrack will be available in August at www.Facebook.com/Dexter.
The versatile Licht has scored across many genres of film but horror stories hold a soft spot for him. “I got my start doing horror/thriller genre films. I enjoy the fact that music is an essential element that contributes to the tension. I transitioned into dramatic films and then comedy, and only really have come back to thriller via Dexter.”
Dan Licht’s film credits include HELLRAISER BLOODLINE, STEPHEN KING’S THINNER and PERMANENT MIDNIGHT. TV credits include JAKE IN PROGRESS and KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL. He was Emmy nominated for his Season 1 music to DEXTER.
Chatting recently with Daniel Licht himself, I first wondered, and being that he had composed all four soundtrack seasons of 'Dexter,' how he now approached scoring the show - knowing that there's only a certain amount of "creepy" music that one can use without accidentally "re-using" it again down the line! "Creepy" music is no different than any other kind of music. I always try to do things in a new way, to expand my musical vocabulary shall we say. Saying that, having scored Dexter for four seasons there are some well established themes that are placed into the episodes by the editors, and if I'm happy with the way they work I will leave them, or at least touch them up."
You've always used a multitude of traditional instruments to create specific sounds, such as pre-Columbian bone instruments, but word has it you also have used duct tape and medical supplies musically too! Please explain this more! "I had always thought it would be interesting to see what bowing on sharp surgical instruments would sound like. In general any pure metal will be more resonant and bowing against a sharp edge brings out high overtones. Duct tape is just a nice percussive sound. People use samples or triggereed recordings of sound effects all the time. I decided to try performing them live so it becomes less repetitive and more spontaneous and random sounding."
'Dexter' centers around a forensics expert by day, a serial killer by night, but there are definitely moments when the intertwining identities merge. Are you given such moments to score ahead of time, in private, or are you given the whole episode to watch for the first time in the studio with everyone there? "I am given the full episode to score in advance, which I watch just as any veiwer might. I am sent the scripts in advance but I prefer to see the shows without any expectations. I make mental notes about what I'm feeling as I watch, then use those memories to try to augment the emotions of the show as I compose the music."
When you used to live in New York you used to visit the ancient music wing of the Metropolitan Museum for inspiration. Where do you live now and is there such a place there for you to go and get inspired, perhaps? "I used to peer into the ancient instruments exhibit and wonder what it would be like to play those wild looking hurdy gurdys and bone harps and whatever. I was thrilled when I got a chance to record on some pre-columbian instruments for Dexter here in LA with Elisabeth Waldo, a great composer with the an extensive collection of ancient instruments. I was actually at an exhibit of Mayan art at the getty once and noticed that something that looked suspiciously like a whistle was listed as an ornament. I contacted the curator about my suspicions, she looked into it an found out that they were actually rattles that were worn on ritual dresses."
Being that you are undoubtedly scoring for this fifth season of 'Dexter' too, after all this time is scoring the show second nature to you - has it become an extension of you that you can easily turn on and off at the flick of a switch? "It is certainly easier than finding a sound for a new project. I like to spend at least a couple of weeks when I start on something just doing sound design and writing themes."
You have created many scores over the years, but it seems the horror genre of film has held a soft spot for you more than most. Why is that, do you think? "It's all about what you get hired for. I started out in the Horror genre because that was the first film I got when I moved out to LA. I've since done many other genres and I think that was part of why I was hired on Dexter. I had done some broad comedy and had some latin music on my demo which they were looking to integrate into the score, being set in Miami. Also, Dexter is in many ways a very, very dark comedy."
Has there ever been a score you turned down and then, after seeing the movie in the theatre, or on DVD, or listened to it on CD, regretted having done so? If so, what was the score to and why the regret? "I can't say I ever turned down anything I've regretted. I may have regretted not turning down things in the past. LOL."
Lastly, what new scores are you currently working on? "Other than season 5 of Dexter, I am working on music for the latest release of the video game Silent Hill, and for an upcoming ABC show called Body Of Proof with Dana Delaney."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
'Dexter - Season 4' CD Purchase Link
Exclusive Magazine is pleased to announce that we have several signed-copies of 'Dexter - Season 4' on CD - autographed by composer Daniel Licht to giveaway.
So, if you would like to win a SIGNED copy of this new CD, just answer this easy question: Daniel Licht graduated from which college in Massachusetts AND in what year?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful new signed CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before December 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: DEXTER SIGNED CDs to: email@example.com
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