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Ghost Canyon

Christophe Beck (Composer - 'Buffy - The Score') Christophe Beck (Composer - 'Buffy - The Score')

'Fleshing Out Another Sound Bite!'

Emmy-award winning composer Christophe Beck scored, mixed and produced the latest “Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Score” CD, which was just released on Rounder Records this past September 9. "The Score" contains 29 tracks, all drawn from seasons two, three, four and five of the cult TV favorite “Buffy” which "Time" chose as one of the “100 Best TV Shows of All Time.”

Beck scored practically all of “Buffy” series, including "Once More, With Feeling," the musical episode and soundtrack that sold over 200,000 copies in the U.S. and earned him an Emmy nomination for "Outstanding Music Direction;" he also received an Emmy for "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series" for his work on the episode "Becoming."

Beck has scored for films including "We Are Marshall," "What Happens in Vegas," and "Under the Tuscan Sun." His acclaimed work on "Buffy" solidified him scoring “Angel,” the television spin-off to “Buffy.”

Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your compositions today? [Beck] "I grew up listening to bad 80's music. Styx, Journey, Asia. I recently went to a Depeche Mode concert and was shocked to hear how strongly they have influenced my melodic sensibility. Later on in my musical development I got into jazz, and then film music... but it all comes back to the 80's for me."

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? "'Confidence' and 'Under the Tuscan Sun' are among my personal favorites, though of course I highly recommend the upcoming 'Buffy' soundtrack CD as well."

For your work on 'Buffy' - compiled from seasons 2 thru 5 - you were hired (according to Joss Whedon, the writer of certain songs) to help 'realise them.' What does that actualy mean though in your profession? "You are referring to the musical episode, yes? Joss wrote all those songs and I co-arranged and co-produced them, so in that sense, yes, I helped to "realise them". Besides that episode (and one or two songs in other episodes) my job was to write the instrumental score, which is a less intense (though no less important) collaboration."

So, how was the musical episode of 'Buffy' ("Once More, with Feeling") first approached to you and how much more brain power went into its musical creation? What were your main speed bumps in putting it together? "Joss Whedon approached me and Jesse Tobias to arrange and produce the songs for the musical episode soon after he had first written it. He gave us simple demos he recorded at his vacation home in Cape Cod. Jesse and I worked from these demos to flesh out the arrangements. The biggest challenge was in the sheer amount of work involved. There were 19 songs, some of them quite ambitious and musically complex. It was also a challenge getting good performances with some of the cast, who are brilliant actors but perhaps not accomplished singers. I love the way the final product sounds and I'm proud that all the actors did their own singing."

And although this release was a compilation of prior work, how easy (or hard) is it to still 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? "Pretty damn hard! I score five movies a year and (as for any busy composer) it is a struggle to keep things fresh. I have to balance the needs of the film, and the tastes of the filmmakers, with my own desire to write something new and unique-sounding, all the while fighting the urge to repeat myself."

When you composed music for the 'Buffy' score were there ever moments when it all started to sound the same to you and you had to take a step back and 'defrag,' shall we say? Indeed, did you ever meet with star Sarah Michelle Gellar on the project and did she have any musical (verbal) input, perhaps? "Certainly, scoring episodic television is a grind, and burnout is always a danger, so time off is quite welcome. If I recall, I believe we averaged 3 episodes a month during the season, so there were occasional breaks between episodes. Sarah Michelle Gellar was not involved in the making of the score, that process was between me and the producers."

You also, which I don't think everyone knows, were the music director back in the day of the Spizzwinks and the Whiffenpoofs! Er, please tell us more as they both sound very colorful entities!! "Ha! Those were acapella singing groups at Yale, where I went to college."

Are you working on a new soundtrack as we speak, perhaps? "Yes, I'm working on a film called "I Love You Beth Cooper" directed by Christopher Columbus. I also have "Pink Panther 2" coming out early next year."

What classic film score would you love to rearrange today in your own style if you were given the chance? "I wouldn't presume! But I've always wanted to do a period picture and write a totally high-concept electronic score for it, deliberately anachronistic."

Who drew that back and white picture of you on your MySpace page and do you feel it is an accurate representation?! "That is a self portrait. I have short hair now but otherwise, yes, that's me!"

Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "Why not?"

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

'Buffy The Vampire Slayer - The Score' CD Purchase Link

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