SyFy’s Dominion composer Bill Brown interview

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Bill Brown has a secret. He has created ways to soothe you… through his music. He is a known name in the television and film industry as a composer who has added his own element of music to elicit an emotion. You may have not heard of his name, but you probably have heard his music. After working on the CBS hit show CSI: NY for nine seasons and working on several known video games, his music has found a new home on SyFy’s second season of Dominion.

We got a chance to chat with Bill on the upcoming season of Dominion, video games, and the love of the music.

Nerd Reactor: Hi Bill, so can you tell me the process for creating the music for a scene? Do they show you the footage and tell you the dynamics of the scene, with you then creating it? 

Bill Brown: We all get together (myself, the producers, writers and editors) to “spot” each episode as soon as the editing is complete or “locked”. Spotting involves watching through the episode and talking about how the music will work in the episode. We discuss the intention of the score, where it will start and stop within sequences… all of the minute details of how the score will work in dramatic terms. Then I take notes from that meeting back to the studio and start writing music for the episode scene by scene using my established thematic ideas and creating new ones as I go. Next up is recording live musicians which I always feel really helps take it to the next level, and finally mixing and delivering everything to the dub stage for the final mix of the episode about a week later.

NR: With the season 2 trailer recently released with a dramatic showdown between Michael and Gabriel, what can you tell us about this?

BB: I can’t really say anything specific about Michael and Gabriel yet, but there is so much going on this season. It’s such an epic, wild ride and has such depth at the same time. I’m having a blast scoring it and seeing how it evolves myself!

NR: How do you dramatize a scene between them especially during a huge battle?

BB: I’ve written themes for both Michael and Gabriel and am very excited about how it’s all coming together. You’ll even get to hear Michael’s theme in the first episode of Season 2 “Heirs of Salvation”!

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NR: Do each of the characters have their own musical theme? When there are new characters like Gates and Julian, do you get a feel of their characters before establishing their music?

BB: Not all of the characters have themes yet, but I’m definitely open to it. I’ll come up with specific thematic ideas depending on what is required of the score to help tell the story. If a character has a long arc, it can be very effective to have a thematic idea for them to connect things as the story evolves.

NR: Do you have any favorite characters that you especially love creating the music for?

BB: I love writing for all of them really. They each have something they inspire in the music, all of them! I really love this cast. They’re awesome.

NR: In season 2 Alex travels from Vega to New Delphi which is described as a human enclave with a dark secret. Do you like having varying settings so you get to mix up the tone? Which setting in the show do you like to score the most and why?

BB: The new settings are really exciting for scoring. They’re mysterious and evocative and my goal is to have the score help tell the deeper story in some way, the subtext underneath what we’re seeing and hearing about. What’s interesting is that I don’t even know everything about these new settings myself as I’m writing for them which makes the score rather innocent, almost mirroring what the audience is experiencing on some level. I’m just now beginning to hear some of the deeper aspects of the story and it’s exciting!

NR: You’ve done a variety of scores – Captain America to Dominion to Ghost Recon. Is there a favorite genre you prefer – fantasy, superhero, war?

BB: It’s great to be able to jump from one genre to the other. The Marvel projects have given me the opportunity to create these big, thematic action scores, Dominion is a fantastic combination of epic ancient themes mixed with post-apocalypse modern scoring, and Ghost Recon gave me these wonderful opportunities to create those classic military themes that so many fans grew up listening to. They are all just incredible opportunities.

NR: What has been the most difficult show or video game for you to score?

BB: I’ve come up against some challenging aspects on a few projects over the years, but somehow we get to the other side and have a successful score at the end of the process each time. I will say that some of my favorite projects were the ones that were also the most fun to work on though, and Dominion is definitely at the top of that list!

NR: Writing the score for several video games, do you play video games? If so, is there a favorite type? Favorite game?

BB: Yes, I love video games and it’s usually when I’m working on them that I get to immerse myself – I’ve done it many many times as I’m fortunate enough to have worked on a lot of them. I don’t really have a favorite type although at the moment I’m super impressed with Star Wars Battlefront. And I have a fondness for ones I’ve worked on and played like Return to Castle Wolfenstein, or Lineage 2, etc.

NR: Because you create music, is that the first thing you focus on when watching a show or playing a video game? 

BB: Not really, I enjoy all aspects of the process. But when the music is working really well, it makes the experience so much richer.

NR: What would you say is your geek/nerd fandom?

BB: Star Wars! Saw it something like 25 times in the theater when it came out.. who knows how many times since then. I’m currently building a full scale R2-D2 to help me in the studio. Hoping he’s not too feisty.

NR: That’s awesome. What score or music inspired you to take up music? 

 BB: Star Wars! My whole world shifted when I saw it for the first time. I bought the 2-album set on vinyl and listened to it until the CDs came out, then I listened to those. Now I’m listening to it on Spotify which I’m not sure how to feel about.

NR: Since you compose music. do you have a song or soundtrack would be the theme to your life? 

BB: Star Wars! Honestly.

NR: Thank you so much, Bill. Looking forward to hearing your music! 

For more of Bill and his music, check out his site here. He will also be having a panel during San Diego Comic-Con on ‘Behind the Music: Syfy Thrills and Chills’ on Friday, July 10 at 10 AM in Room 23ABC.

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Laura Sirikul
Laura Sirikul 1849 posts

Trekkie. Jedi. Whovian. Sherlockian. Hobbit. Sanrio. Comics. I am Spartacus. Warrior Princess. Superhero. Nerd. Follow me @lsirikul