So the INCEPTION trailer hits which finally shows off more of what the movie will be and the piece MIND HEIST is used and before we get into that, what is this about people wondering if ZACK HEMSEY was an alias for HANS ZIMMER?
Were people literally thinking that? Ha ha....that's probably my fault then. Back when the 3rd theatrical trailer for Inception came out, everyone was so convinced Zimmer composed "Mind Heist" that I took it upon myself to clarify the issue by writing a very goofy blog, in which I pointed out some of the similarities between our names and included a video of my name morphing into his.
I'm actually unable to discuss my involvement with the Inception trailer, due to a non disclosure agreement.
OK, since we can't get into specifics, tell me the approach and work that eventually gave us the final cue?
See above, ha ha.
Hmmm...can you say whether the process of composing of "Mind Heist" was unique, as compared to your process in composing any of your other work?
In terms of my actual compositional process, I approach everything identically - it doesn't matter if the final medium is a record, a trailer, or whatever; I'm creating a song (be it lyrical or instrumental), and I do whatever I have to do to bring the essence of that song to life. Musical elements will of course change, such as instrumentation, style, etc, but in terms of where my head is at, a song is a song is a song. How the genesis of a song idea comes about is another story, but once I have something that I feel is worthy of being explored, I go wherever the song takes me.
The loud horns that open the film INCEPTION found their to the first teaser that Mike Zarin did and your own and seem to have taken off as a new "It" motif like when the "Wailing Woman" became popular due to GLADIATOR. What are your thoughts on this?
Well, I think Inception is a unique case in that such orchestration / instrumentation, in and of itself, became highly associated with the film. Normally, a film's main theme becomes it's banner, and while Inception had many great themes associated with it, the massive horn impacts used in the film and trailers resonated with people, in virtue of their sonic characteristics alone. So I think Inception will always remain a special case in that respect, even if the utilization of massive horn stabs stay a trend.
Then came REDEMPTION which was used in THE TOWN's trailer. What (if anything) can you say about this piece?
Nothing with respect to the trailer. But that song was released in full form on my new album "The Way."
Moving on then, this brings us to www.ZackHemsey.com where you offer your work in either individual tracks or complete packages in various audio formats (FLAC, Mp3,AAC) at afforable prices which is rare for music used in movie marketing. How did this come about?
Well, I've been releasing records long before my music started getting used in film trailers. So nothing has changed in that regard. Keep in mind, I'm an artist, not a trailer composer - I make songs, having nothing to do with trailers - it's just that they end up getting used in trailers.
Actual trailer music companies on the other hand have a completely different mindset. I can't put words in anyone's mouth, but from what I glean, the perspective of a trailer library is that making their music available to the public would devalue it in the eyes of trailer editorial / advertising houses. So they distribute their catalogue only within the industry, appealing to an exclusive sensibility...basically, "this is music tailored specifically for trailers that you can't get anywhere else".
So I exist in a different domain. But even still, I disagree with the traditional thinking. To me, good music is good music, period. Whether or not that music can be purchased by a consumer is irrelevant (or at least, it should be). The fact that cues from actual film scores and major label artists routinely get utilized in trailers is evidence of that. The only thing that matters is getting the viewer excited about the film, so whatever music best helps to achieve that is most likely going to get used. But I suppose the current model must be in place for a reason, even if its validity evades me.
Regardless, the idea of music being imprisoned and denied access to people bothers me on an existential level. And what makes it even more bizarre to me is that much of the "exclusive" trailer library music invariably winds up getting leaked on file sharing sites and YouTube...so to me, at that point you might as well release it in an official capacity.
That being said, I think the trend may be starting to change, as I hear that certain trailer libraries which subscribe to the exclusive access model have on occasion started to make some of their music available for purchase. So who knows, maybe that will start to become more prevalent.
In terms of the pricing when buying through my website, the music is affordable because I set the pricing that way. Of course, affordable is a relative term, but I make it a point to price fairly. I'm not trying to take anybody for a ride, and my pricing is in line with what's become standard for songs and albums. Personally, when I come across other individuals that are selling a 2-4 minute song for $10, I scratch my head in disbelief....are they that out of touch with reality, or are they simply trying to scam me?
You said you were a Metal and Film Scores fan what are some favorite albums?
I listened to a lot of Metallica growing up - all their albums. Also rock bands too...I loved Pearl Jam's "TEN". And by the way, I still love metal / hard rock. Tool is one of my favorite artists, and their last release "10,000 Days" is brilliant. Some of the film scores / themes that I loved growing up were from Last Of The Mohicans, Conan, Crimson Tide, Braveheart, and many many others. But I love good music all around, whatever it is. I absolutely love Ray Lamontagne, for example.
When you create music for a trailer or ad you have the benefit of knowing what to evoke or the tone but for your solo work/tracks on THE WAY and EMPTY ROOM what usually starts the creative process?
For me, in order to compose music, I have to have something worth saying. Sometimes the impetus for a song will come from a random idea or lyric that pops into my head, or from reading a book, or conversation, or from elements / concepts in a given film, or from improvising on the piano, etc. But once I have something I want to say, I set out to make the best record I can.
It can certainly be challenging (and quite frustrating) to find a way to express my intention and get it to sound good. And to be honest, I rarely enjoy the process - making music is not something "fun" for me. The end goal is highly satisfying, but the process is more of a necessary evil.
So what was it like to MIND HEIST parodied in SOUTH PARK and YOUTUBE clips?
When "Mind Heist" was parodied on South Park, it really hit home for me how much of a cultural impact the song made. I still can't believe it, actually. Even the endless barrage YouTube trailer recuts to "Mind Heist" was really surprising. I'm very grateful that the song seems to have touched a nerve in people...even if most of those people still think Hans Zimmer wrote it, ha ha (which is a compliment anyway).
So what is next for you ?
I just released my second full length album, called "The Way". So I'm currently recuperating from that experience.
As to what's next, I can't really say at the moment. But I take issue with your question! Why does there have to be something next? Is what's now not enough? :-)
In truth, I try to keep a balanced life, which means I don't spend every waking moment making music. It's easy for people to fall into such traps due to anxiety over income or opportunity or staying current, etc...but thankfully I don't share those hangups. Living fully (whatever that even means) is ultimately what feeds my creativity. So I'll be taking it easy for a little bit before kicking back into high gear on something - maybe it will be another album, or maybe it will be collaborating on a song with Ray Lamontagne (hit me up Ray!) - or maybe it will be a film score. I'll figure all that out later.
Is scoring film something that interests you?
Depends on the film. I find it interesting that many seem to be convinced that I have to be scoring film, as if it's "the next step" or tacitly assumed to be "the pinnacle of music making". From a financial standpoint, I would agree big budget Hollywood film scoring is the top of the food chain. Creatively though, it's just a different medium. The ultimate objective and purpose of a film score is to support the film itself. With records, the music is the film, and in truth, my psychology is that of a filmmaker in the way that I approach music.
Still though, I would certainly be interested in being a part of a truly great film, or at least one that I connect with in a meaningful way. But in terms of a career as a film composer, I'm not very interested. But who knows, maybe that will change. Regardless, I will always work on whatever interests me.
wow. love this guy and his brutal honesty. I was expecting some heavily edited faux respectful thing praising Jablonsky but the man pulled no punches. LOVE IT. we need more composers being honest like that.
point 2 in his blog was hilarious and so true. love this guy
Amazingly, this is the first time I've heard that Hemsey wrote the trademark deep chords for INCEPTION. Is that really true?
Also, if Hemsey really was so instrumental in this, why hasn't Zimmer mentioned it in any of the interviews? He's usually very good at crediting other composers involved on his scores.
From Zack Hemsey's blog Thor...
"Now, let me start by saying that no one owns a genre or style of composition. Equally, Danny Elfman doesn't have a copyright in pizzicato playing techniques, and Hans Zimmer doesn't own the rights to specific chord progressions or pulsing staccato strings. In the same way, I don't possess the exclusive right to incorporate massive low stabs. "
Also well all know Hans Zimmer used the horns for the opening of INCEPTION and it seems that Mike Zarin and Zack Hemsey used it for the trailers for it to have a connection or thread but that is only MY SPECULATION because if Mr. Hemsey can't talk due to a non disclosure agreement.
I don't think he is taking credit for anything other then his track Mind Heist.