Composer Joseph Shirley Talks Creed III and The Mandalorian

ComingSoon had the opportunity to speak with composer Joseph Shirley about his work Creed III and The Mandalorian Season 3. Shirley talks at length about working with director Michael B. Jordan, the difficulties that come with a franchise, and what it’s like following in the footsteps of composer Ludwig Göransson.

ComingSoon: I’m really excited about Creed III – I love the Rocky/Creed franchise – obviously the name alone is a draw, but were there other factors that attracted you to this project?

Joseph Shirley: I’m hyped too! It’s funny – you spend months and months experimenting, working on the music of a project, and collaborating with its director. However, when the movie FINALLY comes out, it comes in a completely different form and feels fresh again – because it finally turns out to be real, and you learn from what makes people tick. viewer of it.

What drew me to this movie was my passion for this franchise working under Ludwig in the first two creed movies, and also my childhood passion Rocky IV. The stakes, the score, the bad blood between Rocky and Drago. That movie had everything for me as a kid growing up. I remember watching that movie with my brothers in the TV room countless times.

This is Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut, what does he look like as a director — how does he approach the musical aspect of the film?

Michael was a pleasure to work with. He is passionate about every department in this movie, and gives everyone his attention when they need it. It’s amazing to me, what it’s like to direct a movie and also star in it. Also, his vision for some of these scenes felt fresh for the franchise, creative and ambitious. I had the privilege of spending almost every Friday morning with him for months, here in my studio reviewing my music. We had a few nights too – one in particular was a vocal session I did with an amazing singer, Maiya Sykes, for the final fight sequence we called “The Void “. Mike and I took Maiya to the glass in the vocal booth, while she watched the sequence and riffed it. It’s exciting for both of us to play in the sandbox like that.

Mike is also devoted to the process. GenerallyI feel like he’s giving me feedback, like I’m one of his actors on set with him, and we’re creating the emotion of the music together live in real-time.. Really felt close to the story with him.

You’re dealing with a franchise that’s been around since the late 70s – which is crazy! — is it hard to find a new way to settle the score? Do you feel compelled to add your own voice or do you aim to recreate/expand on already established themes?

For me, it’s important to help tell THIS story, and to try my best not to get carried away by the pressure I put on myself as it relates to the legacy of the franchise. Mike and I were emotionally driven by the story line, and so I think our score has a little more of a subtle gravitas and a darker emotional texture compared to what Ludwig wrote so well. for C1 and C2, as well as the iconic Bill Conti themes. But, there were times when he and I wanted to “go for it” and really lean into that heroic and lush orchestral sound that this franchise is known for.

In some key areas of the movie, I wanted to honor the musical legacy of this franchise, but at the same time, help tell OUR story that deviated from that formula in a lot of interesting ways. Dame and Adonis in particular needed a new musical texture, one that felt more personal and intimate, but also kind of suspicious in tone.

What was the most challenging aspect of Creed III and how did you overcome it?

The most challenging aspect for me is following Ludwig, whose music has been adored by many people for many years, and whose music I also respect in many ways. He was a big presence in my musical life and a mentor for me in my young career, so I wanted to make sure what I did was right for the movie, but also respected the legacy where I started . With all that in mind, the only way to get around this is to focus solely on THIS story and dedicate myself to Michael’s vision of telling it. Everything falls apart when I get in the middle of a story with someone like Mike, and commit to telling our story the way we want it to be told. It became easier to “disappear” in this story, as Mike and I began to experiment with how we could break away from the established sound and start creating something new.

Is there a track you are proud of that you want moviegoers to pay attention to?

I had a lot of fun doing the score of The Void. It’s more of a manufactured sound, nightmarish, like a Sci-Fi or horror movie. But we want to give it a Greek Tragedy / Greek Chorus through line as well. The most exciting elements for me were all the vocal samples that I sang, and Maiya sang, as well as the amazing Choir that I recorded here in Los Angeles at Warner Brothers.

Also, I really enjoyed doing the song for Felix’s Walkout “Viene por Sangre” with singer JVZEL! I just wish it was longer in the movie!

Mr. Jordan has expressed his desire to expand the Creed universe – are you interested in exploring future Creed films? How do you see the music developing in the sequels/spin-offs?

Of course, I’m interested! Creed III extended to creed universe in so many beautiful ways, that I’m honored to continue to build on what we’re doing here. As far as the direction of the music in these movies – it will depend on what the story is! I’m not sure which direction they’ll go story-wise, so we’ll wait and see.

Give us all The Mandalorian Season 3 spoilers! Kidding, I know you can’t talk about the upcoming new episodes, but how is the music progressing in the latest adventures of our masked hero?

This time is great. The scope of this season was greatly expanded in its finale, with many new characters. Musically, I want to match that and help support all the ideas that Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and Rick Famuyiwa have come up with. Jon specifically asked for a more classic touch for some of the characters, to set up how the characters grow throughout the season – maybe a little orchestral treatment of some of them themes. At the end of the season, it will be very strong in tone and orchestral support.

What can fans expect from the upcoming season, musically?

A big sound with new arrangements of Ludwig’s long-loved themes, as well as some new themes that develop with each episode. Each episode has a different touch sonically, as well as some fun curveballs story-wise, so it’s an energy to accompany the musical journey throughout the bigger one. messenger S3 story. Wild ride.

What do I need to do to land your job with two of Hollywood’s hottest properties?

I’ll let you know when I wake up from this dream!

Is there anything you’ve learned in any of these projects that you’re excited to apply to future endeavors?

I learned so much about myself, and how to work with people. I’ve learned that it’s always important to run with an idea wholeheartedly to the finish line, even if that finish line moves you through the pace of the project. And, especially when an idea or a direction is removed – that you can create something better from that experience of knowing and loving the first idea, while starting something new . I am excited to continue building on these experiences and lessons this year.

Speaking of which, do you have any upcoming projects you can talk about?

Yes! I’m making songs for an animated movie, and scoring a fun teen comedy at the moment. Both projects are great and I can’t wait for people to see them!

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