Tomorrow, Friday, September 6th, we will be able to enjoy a special concert in Valladolid (Spain), on the occasion of the city’s festivities, entitled ‘Film Music – Heroes and Superheroes’, which will be performed by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León – Castilla y León Symphony Orchestra (OSCyL) and conducted by David Hernando Rico.
Gorka Oteiza had the opportunity to interview two of its protagonists for SoundTrackFest, composers Zacarías M. de la Riva and Luis Ivars, so they can tell us the secrets of the music they created for Tad Jones and Captain Thunder respectively, and explain to us what we will find in the concert, in which both will be present.
The concert had the collaboration of Mikael Carlsson (Soundtracks Live!) who has created the program and has been in charge of the artistic direction, and Gorka Oteiza (SoundTrackFest).
More information and link to purchase tickets:
What can you tell us about the music of Tad Jones? What was the original commission and what did they ask you to achieve with your music in the Tad Jones movies?
Well, I’m not sure if you know but before the first movie ‘Tad, The Lost Explorer’, which was released in 2012 (which was followed by a second movie ‘Tad Jones: The Hero Returns’ in 2017), there was a short film directed by Enrique Gato in 2004, where the story of Tad Jones is told. So I’ve known Tad for quite some time (*laughs*).
As you can imagine, and you will confirm it if you have seen any of the movies, the character is evidently taken from the adventures of Indiana Jones but with a rather comic and Spanish touch. When I saw the original short film, I really loved it, because I like both Indiana Jones and adventure movies. Well, and I think my fascination with Indiana Jones also has a lot to do with John Williams and his music. So when the short film came to me, with the opportunity to do something in that style, in a world of adventures, it was a joy.
The first short film had very little budget, as expected, and we did it all with samplers. Then, a second short film came, and there we had more budget, so we could record the music with an orchestra in Prague, just like in the movies, where we also used an orchestra for the music.
One of the first goals that I wanted to achieve with music was to get us fully into that world of adventure, but without losing sight of the comic point that Tad Jones has and that it is in the character he is inspired by, Indiana Jones.
Let me explain myself… both characters are funny, but they are different. Indiana Jones is funny when he wants to be funny, and Tad Jones is unwittingly funny, he’s clumsy and that’s why he’s funny, and with the music I also wanted to make that clear. In a quick analogy, Tad Jones is to Indiana Jones what Superlopez is to Superman.
Thus, music wants to convey many messages… a sense of adventure, action, humor, of having fun, but also wants to make the bad guys seem more sinister. The music addresses that entire world that we can usually find in adventure movies… like in Indiana Jones by Williams, the Goonies by Grusin, or the Mummy by Silvestri… It has something of all those elements.
After the short films, the first movie comes in 2012, with great success, and 5 years later the second movie arrives in 2017. Between the first and the second movie, the characters change and evolve. How does the music address those changes? Does the music evolve with the characters also?
When you have to do a second movie, you already have a universe that you’ve created. I already had the theme for Tad, and I also had a theme for Tad’s relationship with Sara, the love theme. And talking about evolution, in the first part I could barely use the love theme, but in the second part, that the relationship is solid, I use it more and more, and I expand it and give more importance to it. New characters also appear, and for them I create new leitmotivs, such as for the mummy, which is in the first part but has almost no prominence. In the second part, where it is a protagonist, we assign it a leitmotiv, a comic leitmotiv, just like the character. Imagine, if Tad already has a theme that has comic touches, the mummy… even more!
And the funny thing is that Tad is dumb and clumsy, but he really thinks he’s doing well, and that he’s great, when he actually gets things done by chance. Tad lives in a parallel universe, in a story that is in his head, and he is living it. He believes that everything is an adventure. But curiously, in the end, things work out! And all that can also be seen in music.
Let’s talk about the concert now. You have several films and short films with the music of the universe of Tad Jones, and it is time to take that music to a concert hall to be performed by an orchestra live. In Valladolid we will listen to a suite from the second part ‘Tad Jones: The Hero Returns’, which has multiple themes that appear in the movie. How do you prepare that suite? How do you decide what will be part of the suite and what not? What will the people that go to the concert find in the music?
The suite is about 10 minutes long, and the truth is that it is difficult to reduce and condense all the music in the movie and also tell a story in such a short time. My first goal is always people’s enjoyment. I want music that can be easily listened to, and that has coherence. The suite goes through many different leitmotivs of the second movie, and thus manages to offer moments of action and romantic moments. The music of the first part has to do with the treasure they are looking for at the beginning of the movie, and at the end of the suite for example, you can find Tad’s theme closing the whole. My goal is that the suite has cohesion, telling a story, and I also want people to enjoy it.
By the way, it is curious that we have a concert in which both the music of Indiana Jones and Tad Jones is programmed, so that the public can see the tributes and the differences between the characters, right? Did this happen to you at any other concert?
Well, now that you say it, I think it’s the first time. I had my music for Tad Jones in a concert along with the music of John Williams, but not specifically with the music of Indiana Jones. In Valladolid we will see the music for the big hero and the music for the clumsy hero (*laughs*). And people, will find winks and references, because for me, it is a way to pay tribute to one of my heroes, John Williams.
Captain Thunder’s movie, as we all know, is based on the long-standing Spanish comic. What references did you have when you arrived to work in the movie? Because I imagine that like many of us, you read the comics of Captain Thunder’s adventures when you were a kid, didn’t you?
Good question!… When I was a kid, my father had a bookstore where comics were exchanged. I spent my holidays in the bookstore, taking care of all those comics that passed from hand to hand, and had the opportunity to read many of them. So with 8, 9, and 10 years old, there I was, enjoying the adventures of Captain Thunder and also the adventures of many other heroes and superheroes, some of which we can also hear at concert in Valladolid, curiously. I especially loved Captain Thunder, and as half of Spain, I was in love with Princess Sigrid. The adventures offered by Captain Thunder made me travel to half the planet, and those dreams that I had as a child, remained there, stored in my memory. And of course, imagine, many years later, when the opportunity arises to embark on the project of Captain Thunder’s movie, and to score its music, it was as if a whole box of memories was opened and everything suddenly comes to you. The first thing you think is, “Oh god! How am I going to put music to all those sensations! It is a titanic task!”, but then you start, and you do it.
Speaking of scoring the movie, I think Captain Thunder has a lot of music, more than usual, right?
Yes, the movie lasts 100 minutes, and it has almost 90 minutes of music! This was a request of the director, since he wanted to raise the level of adventure and action of the film continuously.
Tell us how you get to the project. Usually it is through a recommendation or someone in common. What was your case? And then, how was the project?
Well, I had heard a long time ago that there was a project to make a Captain Thunder movie. The producers are Valencian, and I knew them of having coincided in festivals and events with them. That’s how they told me that they were trying to make the movie and that they would like me to compose the music. But of course, the project was complex, and it took 7 years to come true. To compose the soundtrack, I locked myself in a special studio for 5 months, which had views of the castle of Alicante on the one hand and the beach and the sea on the other, so you can say that I had a continuous inspiration (*laughs*). In the end, they were very happy with the result, and the truth is that the soundtrack has had much recognition. I remember listening to it on the Spanish National Radio two years after the premiere of the movie, with the announcer speaking wonders about it, which is always very exciting.
Unfortunately, the film was not very successful, but the soundtrack is still alive and there is a concert suite that has been performed on more than one occasion and that we can hear in Valladolid. What can you tell us about this suite? How was the condensation of those 90 minutes of music, in a 7-minute suite, so that an orchestra can perform it live?
As a composer, when I face putting music to some images, I always try to give them the intensity and emotion that I think they may lack, and I try to be very descriptive. So roughly, the suite has the main theme of Captain Thunder, which is the theme of the warrior, also has the theme of the magician’s death, which is a sad theme that I recorded with a wonderful ethnic Algerian singer, and then we have the themes of Goliath and Crispin, to end with the triumphant theme of the conclusion and closure of the adventure. My idea with this music is to tell a story, so people can imagine the adventures of Captain Thunder. The soundtrack has a very energetic side and a very emotional side, depending on the moments. I hope people will enjoy it at the concert.
Interviews by Gorka Oteiza