BWW Interview: Composer Christian Wibe Talks The Marine 6: Close Quarters and His Band Animal Alpha
The composer of WWE Studios' The Marine 6: Close Quarters and Netflix's What Happened to Monday took the time to speak with us about his work as a composer and how he got into music.
I know you got into music at a young age, what sparked your interest?
I don't come from a pronounced musical family and was never pushed into piano lessons or any other musical training. I had to find my own way and picked up the guitar in the beginning of junior high. Growing up I was a big fan of Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Chili Peppers, etc., but what blew me away was the first time I heard the band, Pantera. I was always obsessed with music but that´s when I really decided I wanted to pursue it. Being in several bands the coming years finally culminated in my band, Animal Alpha. I wanted to create a band that was riff-oriented and hard but also melodic and experimental. That's the kind of music I craved but couldn't find out there. So, I set out to create it myself. Animal Alpha was pretty successful for a number of years and we toured extensively
How did you go from being in a band (Animal Alpha) to composing for films?
I thank my good friend and collaborator Tommy Wirkola for that. In 2008, while writing and directing the film DEAD SNOW he asked me if I would be interested in doing the score for it. At that point drums, bass and, guitars were slightly wearing on me and I was super excited to do something completely different. I had a lot of fun working within the orchestral realm and with a cool film. Film-music is so vast and I got a taste of it. It was a big path changer for me and I'm very grateful to Tommy for the opportunity.
How do you think your time in a hard rock band impacts your decisions as a composer?
I'm a pretty diverse composer and a lot of what I write is not related at all to hard rock. That said, when it comes to the more energetic, action type of writing it has definitely made its way into what I do. I've spent many years behind a drum kit and with my guitar trying to come up with driving riffs. In an action film you often want that driving, tense and cool sound. I really enjoy doing guitar-like aggressive riffs for the strings. I think it's a cool flavour.
Your latest project WWE Studios' THE MARINE 6: CLOSE QUARTERS, how did you get involved with that project?
I think someone involved with Marine 6 had seen What Happened to Monday and liked what I did on that. There's a lot of driving action score in WHTM and they were looking for a cool and entertaining score for M6. To me it seemed like a cool project and chance to write with a big brush.
Where did you pull inspiration from for your score for that film?
I really try not to have a lot of plans or references before watching the film. A director often gives references and that's always great. My inspiration usually comes from experimenting, chats with the director, and from watching the film.
Behind-the-scenes video of Christian working on Marine 6: https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v%3Df3Jv6nlZE9Q%26feature%3Dyoutu.be&source=gmail&ust=1543676929478000&usg=AFQjCNHtCKd7wpqFv8yGVKuxeFjFTZTSYw
How did you approach your score for Netflix's WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY-because it was set in the future, how did you try to reflect that with the score?
What Happened to Monday is a futuristic film but it's not a very flashy hi tech sci-fi. It's a film about overpopulation, lacking resources, and our doomed world. At its core, it's an intimate story about family, survival, and betrayal. We definitely wanted the score to have a futuristic flavour but not a stereotypical sci-fi sound. We had a big orchestra and we wanted an honest, grounded score that connected with the intimacy of the story, but also was able to go big and bombastic when called for. Paired with the orchestra, I used a lot of electronics to give it the futuristic colours. The wonderful sound design by Karen Baker Landers also gave the film a lot of that futuristic sound.
When you do spotting sessions, what do you initially look for in a film to help guide the sound?
When spotting, I really want to get under the hood of the director's mind as much as possible. They've often lived with their project for years and usually have an idea where they want to go with their film. At that point I've probably also seen the film and have some initial thoughts and ideas flowing. In the session we discuss the overall tone and the specifics of every scene.
Do you have a favorite genre you like to compose for best?
I really like doing different types of scores. That's what I love the most about film-scoring. There's always a lot to explore. We film-composers tend to dive deep into a bubble when working on a project. Totally absorbed by the film and the score. If every project was the same I'd go mad. It's very refreshing to do a variety of genres.
Is there one person you'd love to collaborate with that you haven't had a chance to yet?
I'd say anyone with a really strong passion for their art and a cool film in the works could be a potential collaborator. There's a lot of extremely talented people I'd love to work with.
Do you have any advice for anyone pursuing music as a career, like anything you wish you knew when you were starting out?
I think perhaps a common thing for beginners is that they do too much. They think too much and try too hard. I've been a victim of it myself and it's something I've focused on in the past years. The more you add/do/process something, the blurrier the idea or sound becomes. If something feels good, I tread softly. These days I mostly trust my gut to make the right choice.
Do you have other upcoming projects you could tell us about?
I'm currently involved in a cool sci-fi/action project but it's still a little early to talk about. There's also a few other fun projects in the pipeline that I'm looking forward to.
You can find out more about Christian on his website: https://wibe-music.com
Images Courtesy of Christian Wibe