When I first heard of the group "Hybrid" suggested by my friend Chandler, I was like who and what? What did spark me was the fact that I had heard of the film they had scored, "Dead In Tombstone" starring Danny Trejo of "Machete Kills", Mickey Rourke and Anthony Michael Hall of "The Breakfast Club" which was intended to be a theatrical release by Universal Pictures a while back but nothing had been heard since. The film is making its' Blu-Ray/DVD debut next week and it was the right time to find out who this group of aspiring composers who wrote the magnificent Western flavored score was.
As it turns out that instead of one central composer, we have three: Michael Truman, Chris Healings and the lovely, Charlotte James, who's the orchestrator and writer of the group. While they work independently somewhat, their brilliant musical minds meld together quite perfectly to create music that is magical and inspirational and in the case of "Dead In Tombstone", exciting and riveting. The way Western scores should sound like. The group has already released a few successful electronic/trance albums to their credit and this led to a chance meeting with one of Hollywood's best in composer Harry Gregson-Williams composer of such hit films such as "Man On Fire", "Unstoppable", "Deja Vu" and "Armageddon" amongst the many in his stellar career, in which they would collaborate with starting with "Man On Fire" in 2004.
For this interview, I got to meet this wonderful trio and I got familiar with their musical style and the way they are able to co-exist with one another to make the greatest musical product. They candidly shared with me about how they came together as a group, how exciting it is to have a soundtrack for "Death In Tombstone", collaborating with Harry Gregson-Williams and their past works. So sit back and enjoy getting to know these great young musicians.
Please tell the readers about who aren’t familiar with your work of what made you become interested in music and what led you to become a song writers and composers.
Hybrid: (Charlotte) Generally speaking, we all come from different places musically, Chris (Healings) and Mike (Truman) come from an electronic music background which began in Wales in the late 90's. Mike has always been interested in writing electronic music and played with synths from an early age. Chris comes from a DJ-ing background. He's always had a love of wild and wonderful sounds which perfectly suited him for sound design for film. My musical leanings were from playing the piano and writing songs, playing various weird and wonderful instruments and composing from a young age. We all had a huge love of music for film and was, in a perfect world, what we all ultimately wanted to do. It's very fortunate that we all have different skills that together combine to make a unique team and I guess a unique sound. It's lots of fun!
Let’s talk about how the group “Hybrid” came to be.
Hybrid: (Charlotte) Chris and Mike, both living in Wales at the time met, hung about in clubs, DJ'd together and formed 'Hybrid'. They released their first album 'Wide Angle' in 1999 which was a unique combination of using electronic music combined with sound design and symphonic textures, much like an orchestra you'd hear in film. They subsequently released albums, 'Morning Sci-Fi' and 'I Choose Noise' whilst working with artists such as Julie Cruise, Peter Hook, Perry Farrell and Kirsty Hawkshaw and working with The Russian Federal Orchestra and the Seattle Session Orchestra. Mike and Chris began working with composer Harry Gregson Williams in 2004 on Tony Scott's film Man on Fire creating sound design textures and rhythm programming. They since went on to work with Harry on numerous other films whilst also honing their composing skills only to score the music for their first film, "Catacombs" in 2006. I had been gigging with my band in London, Bristol and Oxford and writing material for about seven years prior to meeting Mike and Chris. I was connected by the band asking whether I'd like to work with them on I Choose Noise, only I was too lazy to collect my email… Don't ask! Several months later and after I Choose Noise was released, I finally checked my email (plonker) and we then toured in 2007 with our first single 'Formula of Fear' and subsequently joined the band as a permanent member going on to release our joint work of album 4, Disappear Here using the basis of our original idea to combine electronics, sound design and orchestra.
You’ve had many successful albums including your most recent release of “Classics” last year. Tell us about your feelings on the album and talk little bit on your upcoming album as well.
Hybrid: (Charlotte) "Classics" was a bit of a strange release for us because we don't really don't feel like we've been around long enough to be 'Classic' so to speak. Having said that we do see it as a really lovely way to sum up where we've been and the story so far. As far as our up coming album, we always have potential album tracks on the boil, but scoring has become more of our main focus so album tracks always have to come second to that. There will be another album for sure but as to what and when, we can't say just yet.
How do you feel about working together after so long?
Hybrid: (Charlotte) The fact that we work in three SEPARATE studios should say it all really. Nah, only kidding boys! xx Honestly, it's great fun - it works well because we all do different things but we overlap slightly so that we can all help each other and inspire one another, not to mention push each other to always to better. It's a real little bubbling pot of ideas and enthusiasm mixed with the occasional cry, the infrequent quiet word with ones self and the mild feeling on insanity. Brilliant! It's the stuff of creativity!
Let’s talk about your latest project the direct to video film “Dead In Tombstone” starring Danny “Machete” Trejo, Mickey Rourke, Dina Meyer and Anthony Michael Hall. How did your group become involved with the project?
Hybrid (Charlotte): We were contacted by Director Roel Reine to pitch for his film. He was looking for a unique sound for a pretty unique film. On the surface, a traditional Western with some quite dark and supernatural undertones. We presented him with the music for two scenes which he loved and we spent an intensive six weeks writing all 110 minutes of score. It was pretty crazy but huge amounts of fun. We love to find a new twist on things and we believe that's what we achieved.
After viewing the film, was it difficult or easier for you to find a tone for the music?
Hybrid (Charlotte): We all sat in Mike's studio to watch the film. Afterwards, we were immediately excited about it and had great ideas about how to write for it based on what Roel had described. One of our first things to do was the opening sequence of the sound for the Devil leading into the opening credits. We had 24 hours in which to return the sequence so Chris began work on the signature sound for the Devil, Mike went to conjure up the rhythmical pallette and synthetic bed and I went online to buy a Dobro which arrived a few hours later during which time I'd spent an hour watching a video on YouTube showing me exactly to play it. We wanted it to not disguise the face that it was a Western, but to add a new dimension to it whilst not making the score sound too modern and therefore would age it pretty quickly. We've used traditional instrumentation and orchestra whilst adding some pretty filthy electronics and sound design.
Did Director Roel Reine’ give you ideas on how the score should sound like or did he pretty much give you freedom to write what you felt was appropriate for the film?
Hybrid (Charlotte): Roel was fantastic to work with and did give us a great deal of room to manuvere and lots of encouragement. He conveyed to us how the score should feel and with our first two pitches, we formulated the rest of the score around that.
How did you guys approach it?
Hybrid (Charlotte): There's a bit of a joke that we 'method wrote' the score and in a way it's true - we really got into the characters so much so that we all wanted to be Guerrero (Danny Trejo's character). Chris was growing a handle bar moustache for Mo'vember so we all joined him (even me) by drawing on some quite impressive facial hair. The way we did this one (in changes on a project by project basis) was firstly coming up with the basic signature sounds, sonic identities for each character and light motifs and go from there. I would write the melodies and orchestration, Mike would either give me a rhythmical palate to work with or he would write one on top, Chris would supply a bed of sound design, or add it afterwards and we basically move what we've done from studio to studio adding more onto what the previous person wrote.
Did you use an orchestra for the score or was it just you guys performing it yourselves?
Hybrid (Charlotte): Unfortunately, as does happen with some smaller productions, the budget did not allow for using a real orchestra so we've used a combination of live instruments and orchestral libraries to create the sound on this score. I usually write the string parts and then record live instruments to bed in around them, then Mike will mix and bed them all in together, the idea being that it should be quite difficult to tell what is live and what is not. We've also used things like bowed and plucked banjo, hammered piano, sawed viola and guitar effects which Chris has sound designed and Mike has effected and manipulated to wash around our other orchestral and more traditional phrasings.
Universal is releasing a soundtrack for your score. Please tell us more about it?
Hybrid (Charlotte): YIPPEE! Yes, we're thrilled that Universal will be releasing the score. Hopefully, people will have as much fun listening to it as we had writing it. There's 20 tracks of music from the film including the end song which we wrote in true Guerrero style.
How did you assemble the album and were you happy with the end results?
Hybrid (Mike): We know traditionally the order in which the cues appear on an album don't match the film but in this case, they just seemed to work coherently as a listening experience. Obviously not all the cues from the film are on the album, but we chose what we considered to be the best representation. We're really happy with it!
You also scored a film in 2007 called “Catacombs” starring Shannyn Sossamon. Can you please share with us your experiences on that film as it was your first original score.
Hybrid (Mike): It was our first completely first solo score and was a bit of a challenge considering that three quarters of the film was following a young woman running through tunnels screaming a lot. We are really proud of the result and will always remember our first score fondly.
In writing your music, do you use an orchestra or do you perform the music yourself much like other composers or musicians do?
Hybrid (Charlotte): We do both. As the member of the group who does the instrumentation, I always play and use solo instruments as a main voice and back up with sampled orchestra. It's great to be able to use live instrumentation as a basis which then Chris and Mike can both mangle and manipulate into different textures and phrases that might not have even been the sound that came out of my studio in the first place. It's all about taking something organic and deciding whether to leave it or to change it into something else completely different.
You also worked with composer Harry Gregson-Williams on films such as “Man On Fire”, “Unstoppable”, “Déjà vu”, “Taking of Pelham 123” and “Cowboys & Aliens” to name a few. Please tell the readers about your collaboration?
Hybrid (Mike): We met Harry one hazy afternoon after playing live in LA and had been invited to his studio in Venice. WE were of course interested in the process of writing film music and found Harry to be very open to the idea of collaboration and he very kindly invited us to come and work on "Man On Fire" in 2004. Our role within Harry's scores are to come up with unusual textures ideas and directions, sometimes giving him fairly completed cues for him to dissect and use parts of, sometimes adding weight and propulsion to a cue he's already written. He's a fantastic mentor and has given us a wonderful opportunity to see inside the workings of big budget film scores and continues to be a good friend a collaborator.
What was your function in working with Harry when utilizes a full complimentary orchestra for example?
Hybrid (Mike): We wouldn't be writing the orchestral parts on one of Harry's scores but we have taken the recordings and re-imagined them through sound design.
What is it like to work with an accomplished composer such as Harry and do you plan on working with him again in the future?
Hybrid (Mike): You realize how much pressure film composers on very big budget films have to endure and how many people you have to please and Harry's an expert on making the process run smoothly.
What is your favorite film that you have scored to date?
Hybrid (Charlotte): Without doubt, Dead In Tombstone. Just the most amazing experience to be able to do our own score, show exactly what we can do even considering limited time and budget. It's our baby!
Do you have a dream project you would love to do?
Hybrid (Charlotte): That's a tricky one, only because if we're able to write film music, that's our dream anyway.
Please tell the readers about future upcoming projects you may have.
Hybrid (Charlotte): We've recently written the score for Sony's forthcoming PS4 launch game, #DRIVE CLUB which should be coming out at the end of the year. It features a new single from us called 'Be Here Now' - Sony should be putting out more information regarding the game's release nearer the time.
Very special thanks to Hybrid (Charlotte James, Chris Healings and Mike Truman) for the great interview which was a lot of fun to do and I hope we can do it again with another great score! God bless! Definitely special thanks for Chandler Poling for introducing me to this awesome group and keep up the great work man! You're the best!
The film will be released as part of a Blu-Ray/DVD/Ultraviolet Combo Pack by Universal Home Entertainment next Tuesday and is available at Best Buy (thanks! Annie Chu. Please check out her Best Buy weekly ad post) for $22.99 and Amazon.com
The soundtrack to Universal's "Dead In Tombstone" is available via iTunes download https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dead-in-tombstone-original/id723240938
Please visit the group's official website http://www.hybridscores.com for more information on their music and updates on their future projects.
Here's Hybrid's Bio:
"Hybrid are a trio of composers comprising of Michael Truman, Chris Healings and Charlotte James. They have long been associated with a cinematic style of writing since the band’s debut album in 1999 which introduced the Russian Federal Orchestra to the world of electronica. They’ve recorded classical and filmic elements for each of their four acclaimed studio albums and have toured extensively around the world’s most celebrated venues and music festivals.
In 2004, they were introduced to preeminent composer Harry Gregson Williams and a long collaborative career in scoring began to unfold. Working for Harry on such films as Tony Scott’s Man On Fire and Deja Vu honed their skills working to picture and in 2006, their first solo score came together in the shape of Lionsgate’s Catacombs. Since then, the trio have been asked to contribute their unique approach to the area between music and sound design for projects including Cowboys & Aliens, Fast Five, X-Men Wolverine and Unstoppable.
Since then they have worked on Total recall and Fast 6, composed two whole original scores for Sony’s forthcoming Drive Club for the PS4 and Ubisoft’s Ghost recon, both million selling games and have now finished their first motion picture score for Universal’s dead In Tombstone.
Their style of composing comes from combining three distinct angles : experimental sound design, propulsive rhythmic and melodic production and haunting and emotive instrumentation. This together with their approach to orchestration which ranges from sweeping symphonics to terrifying acoustic noise, keeps them firmly rooted at the cutting edge of modern composition.
Outside of their feature film work, the trio release their band influenced material on their own label Kill City Records and continue to have their work synced to TV and film trailers including the campaigns for Frank Miller’s The Spirit, The Rite starring Anthony Hopkins, episodes of CSI and have had their work used on many TV channels around the world from BBC to CNN to MTV."