Michael Price (Composer - 'Sherlock')
'Discovering The Price of Success'
British composer Michael Price has just won the Creative Arts Emmy along with fellow composer David Arnold for Outstanding Music Composition for A Miniseries, Movie or a Special (original dramatic score) for the BBC mini-series Sherlock.
Indeed, Price is a four-time Emmy nominee (all for Sherlock 2010, 2012, 2014) and in addition to the Emmy, the score was recognized with Royal Television Society Award and BAFTA nominations.
Prior to Sherlock, Price’s long history collaborating with award-winning composer David Arnold began as a music producer, and arranger. Price also contributed additional music on a number of Arnold’s projects including the Bond films 'Casino Royale' and 'Quantum of Solace.'
Chatting recently with the man himself Michael Price, I first wondered, being that he is a composer, producer, arranger and award-winning music editor, if there was anything he didn't do in this business? "My cooking is average at best, and you should see me try and draw a horse!"
You write in full orchestra and electronic and contemporary idioms, but do you have a favorite bent towards one more than the other, perhaps? "I'm always drawn back towards the orchestra and more 'classical' instruments, even though there's a real beauty and energy in electronic music. I don't think I'll ever lose the thrill of hearing a string section play something I've written. There's nothing like it."
Having worked on more than 30 major studio pictures, to date which has been your most rewarding? "Often the relationships you make with Directors, Producers and Editors is what stays with you longest. I made a lifelong friend of Nick Moore [director of Wild Child] when we worked together on Love Actually, so it was a delight to score his directoral debut. And then there are films like Another Me, which has just been released, where I met new producers, and they turned out to be wonderful film makers and very funny human beings."
Having worked alongside David Arnold for the Sherlock scores, what does he bring to the musical table that perhaps others don't? "Aside from being one of the driest, funniest people I've ever met, he's also got frustratingly good musical taste. Even when we're looking at a cue together very quickly he can make 2 or 3 suggestions that turn an average track into something very special. Imagine how annoying that is."
This third series of Sherlock is the highest rated UK drama since 2001 so does that add pressure to composing the score for the fourth series, perhaps? "There is a huge expectation on everyone involved in the show, but then there are some very broad shoulders in the writing, acting and production departments. David and I just hope that we don't screw it up for everyone else."
With regard to the Sherlock soundtracks thus far recorded, do you get to see the entire episodes one at a time to score to - or just muddled clips so that you yourselves are left wondering what the hell is going on? "David and I are big on story, so we definitely watch each episode in full as much as we can, to really get a sense of where we're leading to. Although each time we see an episode for the first time, we're as shocked as everyone else."
The Sherlock score has now won an Emmy, congrats, my friend. So, the big question is, where is that Emmy statue now standing? "I have a 'narcissism table' in my studio where shiny things go. I try to angle my laptop towards it when I'm Skyping so everyone can see how important I am."
Back in the day, you were asked by Michael Kamen to help orchestrate and program electronic sounds for the movie 'Event Horizon' (1997). As this was your first soundtrack experience, how has your work evolved since then to here in 2014? Any noticable changes spring to mind? "When I first started with Michael Kamen, the idea of a 'photo-realistic' demo wasn't really on anyone's radar, so we used to experiment much more with the orchestra. We did have a few accidents, of course, but it felt like there was room for creativity all the way through the musical process. You have to work pretty hard these days to keep a sense of spontaneity and fun right through to the sessions. But when everyone in the production is on board for that, it's still as much of a blast as it ever was."
What have you got upcoming? "I'm just finishing my album, called Entanglement, for Erased Tapes Records. I've been working on it in Berlin for the last 6 months, and it's a mixture of strings, tape effects and quantum physics. Of course. It'll be out in the Spring on vinyl and other formats, and I'm totally excited about it. Oh, and we're doing more Sherlock."
And finally, we here at Exclusive Magazine love Penguins (the birds!) - do you also, perhaps? "I very much enjoy the penguin. Here is a picture!" [See picture on left, supplied by Michael himself!]
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
Sherlock Series One CD Purchase Link
Sherlock Series Two CD Purchase Link
Sherlock Series Three CD Purchase Link