He received an “Oscar” nomination for his score for Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”, he has three “Emmy Awards”, his name is John Debney.
Apelzin.ru got a chance to talk to one of the most successful composers about music industry, his love to Trent Reznor and plans for the nearest future.
— John, many thanks for the interview. Please, tell us about current projects you’re working on. If you can disclose that information, but if not, no worries.
Well, sure. It’s a pleasure to be with you today. I am working on so many different things right now. I’m doing a big ride. I don’t know in Russia if many would know about, here at “Disney Land” there’re rides called “Star Tours”, based on “Star Wars”. And I’m working on a new “Iron Man 2” ride, right now, for “Disney”, which is going to happen in Hong Kong in the future. So, I’m working on that. I just finished “Ice Age: Collision Course”, which will be showing mostly all through Europe, it’s showing now. I’m sure it’ll make its way to Russia, I hope. I’m just busy, busy, busy.
— Oh, great! We adore “The Jungle Book”. What are your emotions and thoughts about this movie. Do you consider yourself highly satisfied with it, because the audience sure is.
I would literally say that “Jungle Book” is the greatest thing that I’ve personally have had the opportunity and the privilege to work on. I have a great love for my director Jon Favreau, who was the perfect person, perfect choice for “Disney”. Jon Favreau just gave such live and emotion to the film. It was a truly the best journey I’ve been on in my whole career. It holds a very special place in my heart. I’m very close to the “Disney” company, the Disney family. I’ve done a lot of work for them over the years. And I just think this one for me personally is nearest and dearest to my heart.
— Do you ever watch final cuts of the movies you worked on?
I do watch final cuts of the movie. I watch the movie on every state of its development. And it’s always such a joy especially with something like Jungle Book to see a movie in its rawest and earliest stages. And then just to see the development and what happens and I’m so happy to say that the final product and “Jungle Book” for me is nothing short of extraordinary. I don’t have the right adjectives for it. You know, when one realizes that the only living creature in the film is this little boy. There’s just quite an achievement. I credit Jon and I credit all the technical people, and everyone involved, really. It’s just an amazing achievement and I’m just happy to be a part of it.
— Great! What do you think about contemporary composers, and your colleagues, and the shift to digitizing some of the soundtracks.
Oh, I have a great love for my colleagues. I love the diversity of voices out there. Some voices are very sort of contemporary and electronic based. I just love it all, I really do. I’m a big fan of electronic music, I’m a big fan of classical and traditional music. And I think there’s just a great place for all of it. I think, if it’s well done and it services the picture, the film, then I think it can be a really great way to go. Again, I won’t name any names, but there’re so many great talented people out there, that I’m personally love listening to, and I love listening to all kinds of music and all styles, and all voices out there. I think it’s a wonderful time to be a composer.
—Do you ever listen to music on a phone or any portable device?
Well, that’s a great one. If I listen just for fun, I can listen to it really on anything, if I’m listening to it critically, then of course I’d love to hear it on either a really good pair of headphones, or a really good pair of speakers, or system that can really give me the full range of what I’m listening to. So I’m sort of easy in that regard. If I’m just chilling out and relaxing, it could be on an iPhone, on the beach, or it could be in my studio on a big system. I’m not too fussy, and as long as I love the music I think it can come out on any platform and really sound great.
— What are you favorite bands, if you don’t mind? Please, guide our readers into the world of John Debney and his favorite music.
You know, it’s so hard… That’s a difficult one, because there’re so many great ones, and I love those great artists. And I’m listening to… let’s see, I’ll pull something right off my shelves here. I’m listening to a band called Echosmith right now. I love electronic music, and I’m a big Trent Reznor fan, I love his earlier work and I love his film work. So I’m kind of eclectic in that regard. I’m listening to a bluegrass girl Sarah Jarosz. And I think she is fabulous. So I try to listen as much as I can to a great variety of music, just to sort of try as best I can to stay as current as I can.
— We are a russian magazine, so what do you think about Russia, do you have any favorite movies, books, musicians?
One of my dreams is to go to Russia someday. I am such a fan of the architecture, the culture. Some of my favorite composers happen to be Russian. Rimsky-Korsakov is one, Mussorgsky is another, Tchaikovsky. I have a dream in my mind to go to Moscow, soak in the culture. A lot of russians I’ve met are wonderful, very well-spoken, intelligent people. It would be a dream go there someday. And I think that musically I’m very very close to russian culture, musically. So Id’ rather do that, I’d love to go to Moscow one day, and other places in Russia, and just really soak in the beautiful history that they have there.
— Great, and what advice can you give to young musicians and composers that are truly trying to follow their passion in this crazy industry?
Boy, that is a great question. And it’s a difficult one to answer. There are so many roads now for young composers. Videogames for instance, there’re ways to break in the wonderful world of television, which has some of the best things that are out there right now are on television. And there’s a tremendous opportunity that really wasn’t there I think as much when I was coming up. Boy, there are a lot of different ways to get your music out there: being on “YouTube”, being on the cloud. I think that composers and musicians can get heard more readily now than for instance when I was coming out. But I will say however the flipside of that is that musicians and artists need to get compensated for their work. And I just hope that there’s more of that, sort of a shift to really finding a value in a general public for artists and for musicians in particular. And really to make sure that there’s a way for them to make a living out of art. You know, my theory is that if there aren’t opportunities to actually make a living, you’ll see fewer people following their dreams, and I think that would be a shame. I hope that anyone that might be reading this will really just pay attention that there’s a lot of opportunities, but one also have to really be careful and not give away your work necessarily for free, that’s what I’m saying. So I would say those are my sort of a overall very long answer, those are my things I would look at.
— Well, John, thank you so much for a nice talk.
Thanks you for having me today.