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Clinton Shorter: Composing The Vast Barbaric And Musical Fury Of "Pompeii"

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When the film "District 9" was released and championed by Oscar Winner Peter Jackson, the film was a surprise blockbuster hit and ended up being nominated as Best Picture for 2009 which was to the surprise of many. Aside from introducing the great talent in Writer/Director Neill Blomkamp, who recently came out with his masterpiece in "Elysium", another great talent was introduced and that is the musical voice of Clinton Shorter.

For those, who don't know who Clinton Shorter is. This is his story in what I've heard so far musically. He created a harsh, dystopian musical future for "District 9" which enabled that film to rise amongst the best of the genre since then. He followed that up with a pulsing and rhythmic action score for the Mark Wahlberg action-thiller, "Contraband" that provided some exciting thrills and give the film the hard edge it needed it to put it over the top. Then last year, his finest score was released for the action-comedy "2 Guns" starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg once again, providing a cool, hip and propulsive sound to this mismatch pair of wisecrackers that don't get along too well, but by films' end are the best of friends, reluctantly!

You see Clinton is a master at what he does and that is write good music for fun films and now with the upcoming "Pompeii" starring Kiefer Sutherland and "The Matrix'" Carrie Anne-Moss, he was given the opportunity to expand on what he has already done in a larger and grander scale. He unleashes a musical tapestry that is full of awe and grandeur that soundtrack fans will be really excited about this score without a doubt.

For this very special interview with Clinton, he candidly shares with me on working on "Pompeii", on working with action/sci-fi director Paul W.S. Anderson, the "Pompeii" soundtrack album, looking back on "2 Guns" and what his future plans are that include a nice long rest! So sit back and enjoy the great musical mind of Clinton Shorter!

Please tell the readers about what made you become interested in music and composing.

CS: Well to be honest, I first took guitar lessons because I was terrified of acting and had to choose between one or the other in High School. Thankfully I picked guitar because as soon as I took my first class I was hooked. I changed high schools and attended one that had a recording studio, which sent me down the path of writing my own music and recording it. I made some attempts at writing songs, but it never really clicked so I stuck to experimental instrumental stuff, film scoring was a natural progression.

Let’s talk about your recent work on the film “Pompeii” which will be released on February 25th. What got you interested in this project?

CS: My agent sent me the script and I thought it seemed like a great challenge musically as it’s not too often you get to score a love story, gladiators and a natural disaster all in one film.

This is the first time working with Paul W.S. Anderson who’s worked with a variety of composers such as Michael Kamen, George S.Clinton, Marco Beltrami and many others, did he tell you exactly what he wanted the music to sound and did give you any instructions on what he didn’t want you do ?

CS: Well Paul’s first thoughts for the score were that it was to be mostly electronic and partly orchestral so they asked to meet me and I guess that was because of my "District 9" score. After the meeting, I predicted the score would be completely orchestral and when I saw the first cut, they had had a change of heart and indeed went orchestral. It was thrilling and daunting at the same time as I had never had the opportunity/budget to do an entirely orchestral score.

How much music did you end up recording for the film?

CS: I think we got close to 80 minutes.

What were the recording sessions like?

CS: They were long days because of the number of minutes we needed to record in the time we had but they went great. The brass players at Air Lyndhurst in London were amazing and the strings we recorded with the Babelsberg Film Orchestra in Berlin were fantastic as was the choir.

Let’s talk about the soundtrack album upcoming on Milan Records. How did you assemble it?

CS: I tried to keep it in the order of the film as best I could while still keeping it listenable, so there are some edits but not many.

Are you happy with the way the album ended up and do you think fans of the film will enjoy it?

CS: I’m happy, it’s my first physical release thanks to Milan, I hope people like it.

I loved your score for “2 Guns”. It was a lot of fun and one of the better action scores I’ve heard. Why wasn’t it released on CD?

CS: Thanks! It was released digitally, which seems to be the way it’s been going of late, but I hope people like Milan can change that

What is your favorite film score that you’ve written?

CS: I really don’t have a favourite to be honest, each one has its own story.

Who is your favorite director that you’ve worked with so far in your career?

CS: This will seem like the safe answer and it probably is, but they’ve all been great of late. A big part of this gig is trying help them figure out how music can help them tell their story, and each director is different. Sometimes it can pretty painful at the start but once you figure it out, it always gets fun.

What is your favorite film that you’ve personally scored to date?

CS: Pompeii of course!

Please tell the readers about your future upcoming projects.

CS: I’m just wrapping up a TV series for CBS called "Intelligence" and then I’m going to take some time off as it’s been a busy 12 months. We’ve got another baby coming, so I’m going to need to get some sleep before that happens!

A very heartfelt and again very special thanks to Clinton for taking time out of his very busy schedule for this wonderful interview. You're awesome and your score will become a long time favorite without a doubt. Also, very special thanks to Milan Records' Stefan Karrer for introducing me to Clinton and pulling off this great interview with him. I'm eternally grateful for the opportunities you've given me!

Film District's and Tri-Star Pictures' release of "Pompeii" will be opening this Friday in theaters everywhere. Here's the link to the films' official website @ http://pompeiimovie.tumblr.com/

The soundtrack is now available to order by Milan Records @ http://www.amazon.com/Pompeii-Clinton-Shorter/dp/B00HNTOYZS/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1392765154&sr=1-1&keywords=pompeii+soundtrack

Please visit Clinton's official website @ http://www.clintonshorter.com/ for more info on Clinton and his current projects including Pompeii and 2 Guns.

Please visit Clinton's Facebook page for updates as well https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clinton-Shorter-Film-Composer/144194406668

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