May 3, 2010
Interview with Klaus Badelt at the ASCAP EXPO in Los Angeles, April 2010.
ASCAP: Welcome, Klaus, thank you for being here. You had a panel earlier, tell me what your panel was about.
KB: I was at the panel of film composition and I think there’s a lot of song writers and writers here at ASCAP. I understand that many of them might be interested in how to create film music and I was probably supposed to say how this works, and if there was only one way in doing this I would have told you…
ASCAP: You actually went from being a programmer to being a film composer. What was your path?
KB: I actually started with film more than with music. I had a super 8 camera when I was ten, and I filmed my neighbor, and did all that before I had my first keyboard. So my love was always film and then music. That’s how it came together.
ASCAP: Tell me about the first film you ever worked on.
KB: I came to America 15 years ago and my first film I ever worked on was a $100 million production called “The Time Machine,” that was the first one I did under my name. You can imagine, I was a bit nervous.
ASCAP: How did that happen. How did you get that job?
KB: I was working at the time at the studio of a very famous film composer. He didn’t have time, and how things work that way when you have a mentor, he said: “You know, Klaus can do this.” And so I had to write all the major themes over night, play them to this fantastic producer [Walter F. Parkes] - he did all the Steven Spielberg movies. I was pretty intimidated.
ASCAP: At the time you were working with a mentor and that’s how you ended up getting a job. Is that something that you recommend to people who are interested in getting into the business?
KB: I think there are two main ways of doing this: One way is to either do the mentorship, try to get someone who is doing it. Ghost write, you know, dig a very deep hole, get your ego in there, put it underground for a while and just work - for someone else. The other way is to maybe go to film school, try to meet directors, young directors, do short films, and just do a lot of things on spec.
ASCAP: You kind of had a little trial by fire. Your first film was absolutely enormous. You worked on a lot of films since. Does it ever get any less intimidating?
KB: That’s a great question. Because the actual job is actually as intimidating as before. I have a lot of respect for the job. Writing doesn’t come easy for me. It’s really a big challenge. Like one writer, a script writer once told me, what you do is you pour gasoline all over yourself and then you burn yourself. And then you start feeling it, and you have to let go. You have to suffer, you have to torture yourself a little bit first. It’s not like, you pull out your guitar and have a great idea and you play that. Sometimes it works that way, but it’s a bit deeper often.
ASCAP: So when you’re about to start a new film, where do you start? How do you get inspired?
KB: I try to go behind what’s on the screen, it’s always about: What’s the story? Who are the characters? I think my responsibility is to make you feel for the character, and not score what you see. Because you see that anyway, sometimes you have to do all that too. I think that’s a big difference between writing songs free and writing songs or writing scores for film. You have to service, you have to create an emotion, you have to support something, at the same time writing something which has substance on its own.
ASCAP: Tell me, what’s your impression of ASCAP so far?
KB: I see ASCAP as a great melting pot, as a great opportunity for everyone to come together. I said before, I think ASCAP is my best publisher, they do the job of getting writers together, promoting, I love to write, and collaborate together on a score. Songwriters for example. ASCAP is a great opportunity for all the songwriters to come together and get to meet me and vice versa. You get a lot of synergy like that.
ASCAP: This is your first ASCAP Expo. How has the experience been so far?
KB: It’s quite a blast. I haven’t been here before. There are a lot activities. I like the support you see from all sides. Everybody is very very hungry for information.
ASCAP: And are you providing the information to them?
KB (laughs): Well I can’t give anybody a recipe, but I love to talk about it.
ASCAP: Well thank you so much for being here.
KB: Thanks so much.
View the interview here.