Hans Zimmer: ‘I started to make a soundtrack in my own head, as a 13 year old’ – Music News




Famed composer Hans Zimmer joins Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss his career, scoring ‘Dune’, the secret to communicating with other musicians, his work on ‘Interstellar’, why music and technology who hand in hand, creating in Dolby Atmos and spatial audio, and his advice for up and coming composers.

Hans Zimmer Tells Apple Music About The Long Process That Led Him To Score ‘Dune’…
It’s really interesting. I had this conversation only last night with Denis Villeneuve, we were talking about what it felt like when we first read Dune, when we were teenagers, he was 13, I think I was 13 or 14. And when we read this book and somehow how it captured us. And then now, I went through life, I never saw the David Lynch movie. I never heard the Toto soundtrack. I never saw the television series, because I started to make a movie in my own head. And I started to make a soundtrack in my own head, as a 13 year old. Right? So, this was going to be impossible. And then, one day Denis very quietly asked me, had I ever heard of a book called Dune. And, I answered him… I think I scared him. I went, “Oh, no, it was a seminal for me as a teenager.” But the way he asked and it was in his voice, plus knowing him, plus trusting him, plus being friends. I knew the movie he was going to make was going to be very similar to the movie I was going to make. It answers your question because… what we did, when looked at it, when we finished it, when we were working on it, when we looked at it, it took us back to being those 13 year old precocious teenagers. We were fearless. We were fearless and we were reckless. And, that’s what you are when you’re a teenager. And so, it was written from that perspective. It wasn’t written from the perspective of the hindsight of age and wise men, not that we ever got wise. But no, I mean, nobody can be wise who sets out on the adventure of making a movie, because it’s always impossible. It’s always an impossible journey. And, making a movie or writing a score, doing any of these things, it’s the same magic a bumblebee seems to have with that enormous body and those tiny wings to be able to lift off.

Hans Zimmer Tells Apple Music About Partnering With Denis Villeneuve and Being The First Person Attached To ‘Dune’…
There’s a Swiss author called Friedrich Durrenmatt and he wrote a book called The Judge and his Hangman, and you can interpret the title any which way. Turn it around in which way you want in your mind. But there’s a key sentence in it, which is, “The criminal attracts the law.” Which I thought was really interesting. And just like I attracted Denis… We were literally just standing there, it came out of nowhere that he looked at me and he said, “Have you ever read a book called Dune?” And so, I was the first person on this project. And, once I said, “Yes.” It also started to fall into place and Mary Parent, our producer, she had since, I think, 2013, she had the rights to the property. And, it was really impossible to get it off the ground, until there was suddenly that moment where everything came together, which look, if we talk about magic and broader terms, and as you might have figured out, I’m not a great believer in magic, what I am a great believer in is that the time is right.

Hans Zimmer Tells Apple Music About Chemistry With Denis Villeneuve…
Usually, when you have two creative parties, somebody says, “Hey, I have an idea.” And then, you have to explain the idea. And then the other person goes, “Well, this…” They modify it, or they want to change it, or they think it’s just a terrible idea, or they think it’s a good idea, whatever. So, a discussion evolves. With me and Denis on this movie, nobody would say, “Hey, I have an idea.” Somebody would start a sentence and the other person would finish it.

Hans Zimmer Tells Apple Music The Secret To Communicating With Other Musicians…
I’m going to tell you the secret, because you already know the secret, the operative word in music after all is play. We play music and everybody I know… I mean, literally, I’m just getting ready right now. I mean, I’m going crazy getting my next tour together and getting all my musicians in place, “And what are we going to do? And we’re doing this and we’re doing a bit of that.” Et cetera. And I’m looking at them and I realise that, in one way or the other, they all started playing music way before they started learning anything else. They were tiny, tiny children when they either started banging on things. Or, in the case of, Tina Guo, my cellist, she was four years old when she started playing the violin and then it became the cello, et cetera. So, it’s like the old joke, “Mummy, mummy, when I grow up I’m going to become a musician.” And the mother says, “Oh, darling I’m so sorry, you can’t do both.” But, there’s truth to it. All jokes have a hidden truth. And the truth is that we worked very hard at becoming more playful, at maintaining playfulness… And, the other cool thing is, of course, what we do, it’s not just about how well you play your instrument. It’s how well you listen to everybody else.

Hans Zimmer Tells Apple Music About Mike Einziger and Why Music and Technology Go Hand in Hand…
Mike and I are great believers in integrating technology, for instance, into our work. I mean, which seems so obvious, but it’s not, because the 20th century somehow made a great divide between the orchestra and orchestral instruments and computers and synthesizers and all that stuff. Mike was a guitarist, and I started out as a lame guitarist, but we realised that every instrument is a piece of technology of its time. The violin is technology of its time, the church organ. I mean, for Interstellar I did a lot of research. Actually what that means, I spent a morning reading up on big pipe organs, but the thing that got me was, by the beginning of the 17th century, the church organ was not only completed as design, as technological design, but it was the most complicated piece of human engineering, and it was in the service of music. It stayed as the most complicated, most fabulous piece of human technology until the telephone exchange. These ideas, that technology and music have to go hand in hand. The development of music has to go hand in hand.

Hanz Zimmer Tells Apple Music About Surrounding Himself With Smart People…
It doesn’t matter if it’s Mikey Einziger or Chris Nolan, Pharrell Williams. I’m not trying to drop names. I’m just saying I love being in the room with smart people, with people who are smarter than me, who give me impossible problems.

Hans Zimmer Tells Apple Music How His Involvement in ‘Interstellar’ Came To Be…
I mean, you know that story of how we did Interstellar. Do you know how we started that? Chris and I are notoriously bad at going to parties, but sometimes you have to, so we were, as usual, in a corner, ignoring everybody else and talking about whatever we are talking about. Chris looked at me and he said, “I have this idea. If I were to send you a letter with a story … it’s about a movie, but I’m not going to tell you what the movie’s about, nor will the story in the letter tell you what the movie is about … will you give me one day and write whatever comes to you?” “Yeah. Great idea. Sounds like fun.” He was great. He phoned the director I was working with at the time up and said, “Is it okay if Hans devotes Sunday to this idea?” This letter arrived, and it was thick paper and it was typewritten. I know it was written on Chris’s father’s typewriter. It was very personal, and the story itself was about a father and a son and the relationship, or what it means to be a parent. I mean, there’s a line in it that once your child is born, you never look at yourself through your own eyes. You always look at yourself through your child’s eyes. It was very personal and it was very moving. Oh, one other thing. Chris knows my son, Jake, very well. Known him forever, obviously, so I knew he was really writing about my son and myself. I wrote this fragile, tiny little piece, and finished about 10:00 at night. Phoned his house, and his wife, Emma, answered. I’m saying, “Well, I think I’ve got something. Do you want me to send it over?” She goes, “Well, Chris is curiously antsy. Do you mind if he comes down?” I’m going, “No, of course, get him to come down.” He came down, and I said, “Yeah, do you want to hear it?” He goes, “Yeah, go and play it.” He sat behind me. I can’t look at anybody when I play them something for the first time, just in case a sliver of disgust appears on their face. Anyway, I’m playing it. I play it to him, get to the end of it. I turn around and I say, “So, what do you think?” He pauses for a second and looks around. He looks at me and goes, “Hmm, I suppose I’d better make the movie.” I’m going, “Yeah, what is the movie?” All I’ve done is I’ve done this fragile little thing. He starts talking about space. He starts talking about space travel. He starts talking about Interstellar. He starts talking about time. He starts talking about huge rockets. Finally I’m going, “Stop, stop. Hang on. You’re talking about this thing of epic proportions, and I’ve given you this tiny, tiny little fragile thing.” He goes, “Yeah, but now I know where the heart of the story is.”

Hans Zimmer Tells Apple Music About Dolby Atmos, Receiving a Gift From Jony Ive, and Spatial Audio…
I never listen to my soundtracks because usually they’re on stereo. I don’t think you can see in this room right now, but I basically, I always work in surround. So, as soon as the thing becomes an MP3 or whatever it is and we are just in stereo and the immersive quality goes by the wayside, I don’t want to hear it anymore because you took half of my sonic world away. So, in the middle of the pandemic, in the middle of working on Dune, I am sent a gift by Jony Ive, a pair of headphones, right? And we have this weird relationship. We’ve never met, but we have this weird relationship where he sends me something and just has a little note going, “I made this.” And then I write as a thank you note, I write a little tune by hand and I sent that back to him and so, it’s like things we made, right? And so, these headphones arrive and I put them on and they’re amazing and I suddenly realised, “Oh, we can do immersive. We can do Dolby Atmos. We can do all this,” and I phone my friends at Dolby and I say, “We have to do this. I want to go and do the whole soundtrack again and I certainly want to do the CDs again and I want to do all this immersive experience,” and I phoned Denis and I phoned all my guys and go, “You got to listen to these headphones,” to which I of course get the reply, “Well, they don’t actually exist. I think you have the only pair.” So, there was a little bit of that going on.

Hans Zimmer Tells Apple Music His Advice To Up And Coming Composers…
First of all, you’re not a musician. You’re a dramatist. You know? You are a storyteller and everybody takes for granted that you can play your instrument, or that you can knock out a decent tune, so nobody cares about did you go to Berkeley or did you do anything like that. What they’re interested in is are you a good storyteller. Secondly, are you a good collaborator, in other words your band needs to include your editor and your director and your writer sometimes. And for me, very importantly the director of photography, because frequency is frequency, right? So, whatever color palette he uses I somehow need to reflect in the music I’m using, so he’s a big clue.

You can view the original article HERE.



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