Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Chris. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
No problem…I’m a composer who works in Film, TV, and Video Games. I tend to cross over many different genres and enjoy being eclectic. I studied with Elmer Bernstein and worked for Basil Poledouris and Michael Kamen, so I have an enormous respect for and background in classic, epic styled music.
Your score for Alvin and the Chipmunks was the initial score that seemed to launch your career into where it is today. Did that film open a lot of doors for you?
Absolutely! When your first theatrical studio feature makes 360 million dollars, it certainly helps to lend credibility to your career. I was very fortunate that it was so well received.
When beginning any project (film/tv/games), how do you initially decide on the overall “sonic palette” (sound/instruments) required?
I usually watch it many times and discuss the possibilities with the director and producers. Then I’ll try a ton of things and show them to my filmmakers and go from there. Obviously, the more time and trust I have, the more chances and experiments we can explore.
You worked with Jay Gruska on the score for Supernatural. Tell us about the collaboration process you went through when scoring the show.
Jay is the best! I did the pilot and we’ve alternated episodes ever since… The first few years, we would exchange cues and ideas to really develop the sound. Now, it’s pretty solidified, but we’ll still let each other know if there are any styles or thematic material that need to cross over into different episodes.
In the Supernatural score, how did you develop the themes and throughout each season so they remain recognizable, yet developed further, just like the characters?
There is a main brothers theme that has seen many different variations throughout the years. There’s also a theme I wrote for the brothers’ mom and dad. The great thing about Supernatural is that there are always so many new characters, demons, and hunters…that we can constantly explore new variations on things.
You’ve worked in every style and genre of music that’s out there. What’s your favourite genre to work in and why?
I love all of them. I’m quite ADD, so the opportunity to shift between styles and genres is perfect for me. I must say that I have a soft spot for epic orchestra and animated movie musicals…so I’d love to do more of those as my career goes on.
You studied for a year with Elmer Bernstein – how did this come about, and what would you say were your most important lessons learned from this period?
His first year of teaching was my senior year at USC’s Thornton school of music. I was so lucky to get so much amazing time with such a hero of mine and a legend of film music. One of the most important lessons Elmer taught us was the importance of spotting a film…deciding where and when music should start and stop, and really digging deep to find WHY music needs to be where it is and what the ultimate purpose of each cue is. It’s so important to remember that first and foremost, we, as composers, need to help tell the story. Music just happens to be the language we speak.
Having such a hectic schedule, how do you maintain a healthy work/life balance and avoid burnout?
It’s very difficult, but recently, with the birth of my second child, I’ve really started to create some boundaries and I really think that getting some time away with family makes me a better writer. That, and the fact that I’ve got the most amazing team around me…orchestrators, arrangers, engineers, musicians. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them and I’m so grateful for all of their amazing hard work.
Which of your current projects are you most looking forward to releasing?
I’m very excited to be working on a new musical TV show called Galavant with one of my all time heroes Alan Menken. I’m also thrilled to be teaming up with Tim Story again for Think Like A Man Too and going back to the hilarity of Horrible Bosses 2. It’s going to be a great summer!