Interview: Pinar Toprak On Composing For Movies, “Krypton,” And The World’s Biggest Video Game

By Armando Inquig

It’s been a great year for composer Pinar Toprak so far. With Syfy’s “Krypton” set to premiere tonight (March 21 at 10 ET/PT), Fortnite is also sitting atop Apple’s gaming app store.

Pinar Toprak

Recently, Pinar composed additional music for the superhero ensemble Justice League. I was lucky to grab some minutes with Pinar Toprak to talk about her work on one of the year’s most anticipated TV series Krypton, which is set two generations before its destruction, and the surprising success of a game that is taking the world by storm.
(Interview date: May 20, 2018)


Krypton is finally premiering this week. What was it like scoring the series?

Pinar Toprak: It’s a wonderful experience. I’ve been a Superman fan since childhood. Its surreal. Every day I get to work on it. It’s amazing. I’m having the time of my life.

People have preconceived notions about (planet) Krypton, usually relating to how it ended, but not many before that. Where did you draw inspiration from?

PR: We wanted to do something that was different. Not what you would necessarily expect to hear because this is about Krypton. Obviously, we have the Superman legacy with us which is Superman’s grandfather. But it’s also about how they really lived and what happened then. Rather than thinking of it like a Superman film that we’re used to, I wanted to do something that is unique and unique to Krypton. So, it’s about finding different sounds and creating new music and new things, example for Brainiac. It’s really a lot of fun.

Did you incorporate scores from movies or TV series based on DC comics? Did they inspire you in some way?

PR: There were two moments on the first episode which will air tomorrow. There’s an homage to the Superman legacy, basically. But other than that, I wanted to do our own thing. Because this is unique, and this show has such a different angle to what we’re used to. So, it’s a whole other approach.

You’re talking about John William’s Superman theme, right? I thought that’s a cool touch.

PR: Yes, there are two moments on the episode that will air tomorrow. Thank you. It worked well.
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Bringing Sound to the Screen: An Interview with Film Composer Alex Geringas

Eric Gasa

When talking about his work, Alex Geringas can’t help but excitedly chuckle. The Moscow born, German-raised, and LA-dwelling musician has had a steady rise to success from penning failed pop singles back in the 90’s to writing big screen movie scores, and collaborating with pop legends like Cher and Kelly Clarkson.

During my chat with Geringas I had the opportunity to speak with an idiosyncratic man dedicated to both his family and craft. In his latest project, writing the score for Netflix’s Trolls: The Beat Goes On! Geringas channels his inner Wagner; infusing hilariously overdramatic tones to one of the most charming, quirkiest kids shows on TV today. The juxtaposition fits his personality perfectly; a man of the dignified arts not afraid to join in on the fun.

Other scores to Geringas’ credit includes Pitch Perfect 3, Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh, Ice Age: Collision Course, and The LEGO Ninjago Movie.

How did you first break into the music industry?

It was back in 1998, I was living in Germany and a friend of mine told me, ‘Hey man, let’s write a hit!’ At the time I knew nothing about writing for artists and then he told me lets write about something everybody likes and bring it to a publisher. I thought it was all talk. We wrote a song about a topic we both thought everybody liked, vacation. We played it to the publisher, who liked it, then the record label sent it to a radio station, and then we had our first release.

But this also has to be the biggest flop in my career to date because nobody bought the single. There was a producer though that heard our song and reached out to me to write one with him for a rap group. That first single would become my first Top Ten hit in Germany. Our second release together became the theme song for the first episode of Big Brother in Germany.

As a composer and songwriter, which comes first, the lyrics or the melody?

I am and always will be a melody guy. I love working with lyricists, but I also love setting a concept with them and developing that idea.

Who are some of your musical inspirations?

One of my biggest musical inspirations is John Williams, the film composer. I love the variety of styles that he has composed. And of course, there is Alexandre Desplat who is just phenomenal in how he found a dialogue where no words are spoken in, The Shape of Water. Absolutely fantastic. That is where I would like to be someday.
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Finding A Space: Interview with Composer Nathan Whitehead

By Niy Birden

Composer Nathan Whitehead

What do you expect from the composer of Keanu, the hilarious animal-friendly film starring two of the most recent breakthrough comedians of the era, Key and Peele? Would you expect the same things from the composer of The Purge series, which recently made waves not only for its inhumane storyline, but currently rather the political messages in it- or even the person who also did work for Desperate Housewives?

Nathan Whitehead happily lives in a contradiction of music creation. While he mentions that he does have more of a comfortability for horror films, his intention to consistently learn and adapt to new genres is what has helped his sounds thrive in various forms of media, whether it be video games, major films or even reality television.

In the sequel to the blockbuster hit Beyond Skyline, Nathan has found a way to cleverly create a space of unique (and we do mean incredibly unique) soundscapes fit for action movies, without the assistance of big budgets, but rather with the help of an elk bugle, of all things. Tiny breakthroughs like this show the real tenacity of a musician, whether they are in control of the music or not. Looks like the guy who had an identity crisis in his pop punk band has truly made a lane for himself.

Q: How did you get interested in film music, and who inspired you?

N: I got interested in film music I think in just always being a big movie fan and I started experimenting with music at an early age. Just playing the family piano. And that led to guitar. So I played guitar for years and wrote songs, got interested in punk rock and played in a pop punk band, but all of this time I think, the idea of just creating my own music-writing music rather than learning covers off songs, was much more appealing to write stuff. And it probably set me back in a way because as soon as I learned three chords on a guitar, I started writing music instead. I would rather write material with those 3 chords than practice some new chords.

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It was through the punk band that I got introduced to working in a recording studio. We recorded like a 6 song ep- I was fresh out of high school actually, and shortly after that it sort of clicked that if I wrote music for movies or tv shows, or anything like that I -would get to be in my studio all the time. I really loved the studio process and I really loved writing.

And another thing that always popped up when I was in the band was sort of this identity crisis, like what is this band gonna be and what are we feeling? For whatever reason I felt like I had to figure out what the band was, which I don’t think was really important,but you know.

Q: Did that cause a lot of problems for you and the band members, or do you think that it made you guys stronger in a sense and more connected?

N: I wouldn’t say it caused problems, sometimes it caused mild disagreements, mostly it just made our songs all over the place style-wise [laughs], but that was that- it clicked- writing music for film, I could write in tons of genres. Maybe whatever the film needs. That’s easier said than done. You never know what opportunity you’re gonna get. I’ve done a lot of horror music, Beyond Skyline is this big action score. I’ve done big-band music . And back in my assistant days I wrote on Desperate Housewives for 2 and a half years.
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