Jack Trammell interview

I caught up with US film and TV soundtrack producer Jack Trammell who has worked on films such as Looper, Cloud Atlas, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Spider-Man, Total Recall plus games… to name a few. He works with THAT massive, bowel-liquidising cinema sound we all know. We talked about worlds of huge-scale cinematic drama and electronic music and when those worlds collide.

DB: When I listen to your music I envisage you in a massive ice blue ambient-lit studio surrounded by silently humming banks of equipment, monitors and you in dark glasses.

JT: I have a composing room set up at my house. It’s got some ambient blue lighting. It’s really nice to have a room set up so I can just wake up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee and get right to creating.


DB: Is it a case of 100% electronic sounds or is there an inclusion of ‘real’ instruments?

JT: I mainly use sampled instruments but occasionally I do have a cellist come in to the studio.


DB: What is your best experience so far in your field? I mean it’s big music: it must be insane to sit in the cinema with the music you’ve just created being played back full force.

JT: It was incredible watching the Looper trailer at the theater. It had two of my songs in it and completely blew my mind.


DB: Considering that what you’ve just described would be massive for most, what would be YOUR dream venue/playback combo?

JT: I would love to hear a few of my songs being performed live by the LSO, amazing!

DB: Are you under constraints, and requests from external sources to alter your music? I wonder these days if people send constant email requests and changes to your work.

JT: I almost always get notes back from the trailer house. And sometimes I get notes from the film studio also, but I just roll with it. The guys at the top always make the best decisions about feel and direction.

top mid

DB: OK, something I always wondered: you use orchestral sounds. You use samples but would you ever use an actual orchestra? Apart from the cost you do hear reports about how difficult it is. I’ve had some experience myself and can testify.

JT: For most of my stuff, having a real orchestra would actually be cumbersome. I don’t do ‘orchestral’ music as such however. Just being able to grab some string samples and put them where I want helps with the writing process immensely.


But if I were doing orchestral based songs, I would definitely want to use a full orchestra.

DB: Looking at a range of films old and new what is your opinion on the way the score is done? Some can sound quite predictable, with basic operatic choral bits patched in for instant ‘drama’ for eg. The Carl Orff preset ha ha.

JT: Something that’s missing from modern scores is risk-taking. A lot of the movie trailers are incredibly fresh and new sounding, but for the score, the film studio tends to play it safe, so the scores just keep sounding the same.

I’d love to do a score for a big sci-fi film and break some rules, do things that sound new and fresh, instead of just doing the same old traditional string arrangements.

DB: Any films you’d love to get hands on?

JT: I’d love to score the next X-Men film.

DB: I know you love ‘bass’ music, so do you hit clubs and music spots yourself?

JT: I don’t really go out to clubs anymore. Gotta save my hearing ya know.

DB: What’s happening in 2013 and what films are on the horizon you’re excited about?

JT: I’ll be releasing more stuff for trailers and probably doing some epic remix work for a select few. Star Trek looks good. Oblivion, Thor 2, Man of Steel. Anything sci fi is right up my alley.

Pillars of Creation album

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