Scott, Marc & Steffan (Composers - Criminal Minds)
'It Would Be Criminal NOT to Read This Interview!'
There is an old Spanish proverb that reads “three helping one another will do as much as six men singly.” That spirit is alive and well with five-time ASCAP Award-winning TV and film composers Steffan Fantini, Scott Gordon and Marc Fantini.
Each is individually accomplished, yet as a group, the three create prime time’s most unique scores including CBS’s Criminal Minds.
The team is back for the sixth season of the hit show Criminal Minds starring Shemar Moore and Thomas Gibson as members of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.
The composers are also scoring the new Criminal Minds spin-off Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior starring Oscar® winning actor Forrest Whittaker which just debuted a few weeks back.
Chatting recently with all three composers, I first wondered, as this was the sixth time they'd all come together to score for 'Criminal Minds,' what Steffan Fantini brought to the table; and how did he manage to keep it fresh?! STEFFAN "I THINK CRIMINAL MINDS HAS BECOME LIKE FAMILY SO WE ARE ALWAYS EAGER TO GET THE TEAM BACK TOGETHER. WHEN WE ARE NOT WORKING ON CRIMINAL MINDS, WE WORK ON FINDING NEW SOUNDS FOR THE SHOW, LISTEN TO DIFFERENT SCORES, WATCH LOTS OF MOVIES AND WORK ON OTHER PROJECTS."
"ALL THIS OUTSIDE STIMULI HELPS KEEP THINGS FRESH AND EXCITING WHEN WE COME BACK TO WORK ON CRIMINAL MINDS. AS A TEAM OF THREE, WE EACH MOTIVATE EACH OTHER WITH NEW SOUNDS AND IDEAS FOR THE SHOW. THERE IS EVEN A HEALTHY COMPETITION BETWEEN US TO KEEP RAISING THE BAR."
"THE OTHER HUGE ELEMENT TO KEEPING IT FRESH IS WHAT WE SEE ON SCREEN EACH WEEK. WE ARE SO LUCKY TO HAVE SUCH A TALENTED TEAM OF PEOPLE IN FRONT OF AND BEHIND THE CAMERA'S TO HELP TELL THESE INCREDIBLE STORIES. WORKING WITH THE SAME TEAM FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME MAKES IT VERY EFFICIENT AND JUST GETS BETTER AND BETTER EACH SEASON."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard, you guys are also scoring the soundtrack to 'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.' Marc (Fantini), please tell us how the musical score for this spin-off will differ from that of the original? MARC "THE SHOWS ARE DIFFERENT BECAUSE THEIR TEAMS ARE VERY DIFFERENT. THE MUSIC HAS TO REPRESENT THE FACT THAT THIS TEAM, LED BY FOREST WHITTAKER, IS MORE OF A ROGUE TEAM – OUT OF THE BOX, MORE STREET AND VISCERAL. THE MUSIC REPRESENTS THAT. THERE IS A LITTLE MORE EDGE, AND IT’S A LITTLE DIRTIER."
Scott (Gordon), for your work on 'Criminal Minds,' how long does it take to record such a score? Is it week by week, like a job, or do you come in and record the whole series on one chunk - like a contract? SCOTT "DEFINITELY WEEK BY WEEK. WE DO EVERYTHING TO PICTURE, SO AS SOON AS WE GE THE PICTURE WE START WORKING. WE BASICALLY HAVE ANYWHERE FROM FIVE TO TEN DAYS TO DO THE MUSIC."
Indeed, with regards to the upcoming spin-off, 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? MARC "IT’S GREAT WORKING WITH THREE PEOPLE. THERE IS ALWAYS THAT CREATIVE, HEALTHY COMPETITION BETWEEN THE THREE OF US. WE ARE ALWAYS TRYING TO IMPRESS EACH OTHER AND KEEP THE MUSIC AND ENERGY FRESH - ALMOST LIKE PLAYING IN A BAND. WE LEARN FROM THE PAST AND APPLY WHAT WE’VE LEARNED TO THE NEW PROJECT, AND USUALLY 90% OF THE TIME WE END UP WITH BETTER STUFF."
"IT IS PART OF THE GROWING PROCESS, PART OF WHAT YOU LEARN. EACH YEAR YOU GET BETTER AND BETTER, AND SHARPER AS TIME GOES ON. WE PLAY OFF EACH OTHER AND HAVE THAT ENERGY AND HEALTHY COMPETITION WHICH HELPS US STAY INNOVATIVE YEAR AFTER YEAR."
Is it easier to work with such collaborators as each other, or is working alone more relaxing, less stressful? And, explain the advantages for having three of you score ‘Criminal Minds’? STEFFAN "I THINK AS A TEAM WE GET HUGE BENEFITS. FIRST OF ALL, THERE ARE THE COLLABORATIVE ASPECTS. FOR EXAMPLE, WE LOVED ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE BEATLES AS SOLO ARTISTS BUT THE BEATLES AS A GROUP WERE MUCH MORE POWERFUL. ON SOME MICROSCOPIC LEVEL, WE SHARE THAT MUSICAL COMRADERIE. THE DEMANDS OF A WEEKLY SCORE CAN BE QUITE INTENSE. OFTEN 35-40 MINUTES OF MUSIC WILL NEED TO BE COMPOSED IN A SHORT TIME. IF THERE IS ONLY ONE COMPOSER, ALL THAT WORK FALLS ON HIM OR HER."
"I HAVE FOUND THAT IF ONE PERSON HAS TO DO ALL THAT, THEN THE QUALITY CAN SUFFER. WE CAN BE MUCH MORE CREATIVE AND PRODUCTIVE WITH THREE OF US WORKING TOGETHER. IT'S GREAT TO BOUNCE IDEAS OFF EACH OTHER INSTEAD OF WORKING IN A VACUUM. NORMALLY, WE WILL DISCUSS THE SCORE BEFORE WE BEGIN, FIGURE OUT THE TONE AND COLOR FOR THE SHOW AND THEN WORK ON OUR OWN. THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS, WE PLAY EACH OTHER WHAT WE ARE WORKING ON SO THE OTHERS CAN COMMENT AND MAKE SUGGESTIONS. THIS KEEPS EVERYTHING SOUNDING COHERENT. IT MAKES FOR A VERY FERTILE MUSICAL RELATIONSHIP."
Marc, you played guitar solos on the NKOTB albums back in the day! Interesting, so what good, bad or ugly memories of those days immediately spring to mind?! MARC "I HAVE GREAT MEMORIES OF THAT TIME. I REMEMBER BEING VERY, VERY YOUNG. I REMEMBER BEING IN THE STUDIO WITH PRODUCER MAURICE STARR WORKING IN ONE ROOM AND NEW KIDS IN THE BLOCK WERE IN THE OTHER ROOM – I WAS TWELVE OR THIRTEEN AT THE TIME. I HAD MY GUITAR AND AMP SET UP, AND MAURICE WAS LISTENING AND CAME IN AND TOLD ME “HEY I LIKE YOUR SOUND, CAN YOU PLAY ON THIS TRACK?” HE PUT THE SONG ON AND I PLAYED."
"I DIDN’T KNOW WHO HE WAS OR WHO NKOTB WERE, BUT HE SAID IT CAME OUT GOOD, SO I PLAYED ON ANOTHER ONE. I DIDN’T GET PAID BUT IT’S A NICE LITTLE MEMORY OF BEING INVOLVED WITH AN ICONIC BAND OF THE 90’S. I FOUND OUT THAT MAURICE WAS PRETTY FAMOUS ON THE EAST COAST, THAT HE DISCOVERED NEW EDITION. IT WAS VERY EXCITING FOR A KID. DRIVING IN CAR OR FIVE YEARS LATER, I HEARD MYSELF ON THE RADIO FOR THE FIRST TIME. IT WAS VERY EXCITING FOR TWELVE YEAR OLD KID - ESPECIALLY BEING A SOLOIST."
Steffan, you sang and produced many other artists' hits. Can you name one or two that you are most proud of, along with one that you would rather forget?! STEFFAN "I HAVE ENJOYED WORKING ON LOTS OF COOL PROJECTS. GETTING TO SING WITH RINGO STARR AND BE IN HIS VIDEO WAS INCREDIBLE. SOMETHING I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER. IT'S HOW I MET MY PARTNER SCOTT GORDON WHO WAS WORKING WITH HIM AT THE TIME."
"SINGING WITH TIMOTHY SCHMIDT FROM THE EAGLES WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE. WRITING A SONG AND HAVING DAVID KAHNE (PAUL MCCARTNEY, SUGAR RAY) PRODUCE IT FOR EUROPEAN STAR SASHA ALEXANDER WAS VERY EXCITING."
"HAVING JOHN OATES OF HALL & OATES COME TO OUR HOUSE AND WORK ON A SONG TOGETHER WAS REALLY WILD. THERE HAVE BEEN MANY BUT THESE ARE A FEW THAT STAND OUT. I DON'T THINK THERE ARE ANY I WOULD WANT TO FORGET AS ALL OF THEM WERE WONDERFUL LEARNING EXPERIENCES THAT I HAVE GAINED SO MUCH FROM. I AM SO LUCKY TO BE ABLE TO DO WHAT I DO."
Scott, you were lead engineer and mixer for many iconic performers, including Ringo Starr, Tom Petty and Aerosmith, but is there one stand out artist (that you worked with) that has left you still today in complete admiration of their professionalism? SCOTT "NO QUESTION ABOUT IT – RINGO STARR. I STARTED OUT IN MUSIC AS A DRUMMER. THE BEATLES WERE MY FAVORITE BAND, AND RINGO WAS MY FAVORITE DRUMMER. TO GET TO WORK WITH RINGO WAS WITHOUT A DOUBT MY FAVORITE EXPERIENCE. THE PROFESSIONALISM IS AMAZING. IT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF MY ENIGINEERING CAREER."
Scott, has work begun yet on any new soundtrack projects that you can discuss at this time, perhaps? SCOTT "WE ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON AN ABC PILOT."
Also, Steffan, you and Marc have just finished work on the upcoming film, 'The Lost Medallion.' Please tell us more about what we can expect from, a) the film itself and b) the accompanying score STEFFAN "THE LOST MEDALLION IS A CHILDREN'S ACTION ADVENTURE MOVIE. IT'S ABOUT THIS GROUP OF KIDS WHO ARE GREAT FRIENDS AND WIND UP TAKING THIS AMAZING JOURNEY. THEY NEED TO FIND THIS ANCIENT RELIC WHICH POSSESSES CERTAIN POWERS. THESE KIDS MUST FIND IT BEFORE EVIL FORCES GET TO IT AND TRY TO USE ITS POWER FOR THE WRONG REASONS."
"IT'S A VERY FUN, HEART POUNDING THRILL RIDE SET AGAINST A WARM STORY OF FRIENDSHIP AND LOYALTY. IT IS REALLY A FILM FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY. THE FILM IS BEAUTIFUL TO LOOK AT. IT WAS SHOT IN THAILAND. VERY FUN ADVENTURE. WE HAD A GREAT TIME WORKING ON IT. THE SCORE SPANS FROM EPIC ORCHESTRAL MUSIC TO NATIVE ISLAND FEELS TO VERY INTIMATE PERSONAL MOMENTS. WE ARE VERY PROUD OF IT."
"WE WILL BE RECORDING SOME OF THE SCORE WITH THE MACEDONIAN ORCHESTRA IN DECEMBER. THE FILM WILL BE RELEASED IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2011. THERE WILL ALSO BE A CD OF THE SCORE RELEASED AS WELL. YOU CAN VISIT WWW.THELOSTMEDALLION.COM TO GET MORE INFO ON THIS FILM."
You guys have also written the music for the Sony Playstation videogame 'Sorcery.' Is this the first time any of you have done such a thing and how does writing a videogame score differ (time wise, stress wise, etc.) from that of a film or TV show? STEFFAN "HONESTLY, WE ARE STILL WORKING ON THAT AND REALLY CAN’T GO INTO DETAIL AT THIS POINT!"
Okey dokey then ... so, lastly, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins (not the hockey team or the chocolate bar!) ... do you?! SCOTT "I PERSONALLY LOVE PENGUINS. I’VE ALWAYS FELT THAT PERHAPS IN AN EARLIER LIFE I WAS A PENGUIN!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
Exclusive Magazine is pleased to announce that we have several AUTOGRAPHED copies of specially-created-for-us 'Criminal Minds' soundtrack CD - signed by all three (3) composers!
So, if you would like to win a SIGNED copy of this new CD, just answer this easy question about the show: Emily can speak five languages. What language is she NOT fluent in?
Send us your answers, ONE entry per email address only, 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 April 15th with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: CRIMINAL MINDS SIGNED CDs to: email@example.com
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