Interview with Dean Valentine
Dean Valentine is an Irish composer currently working for Pusher Music. His credits include trailer for movies such as Prometheus, Captain Phillips, and, very recently, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Trailer Music News: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into trailer music?
Dean Valentine: I’m a self-taught composer living in Dublin, Ireland; when I’m not composing I can usually be found wandering the streets rescuing stray dogs!
Long story… my dad received an old Bechstein upright piano as a gift when I was in my early teens, I immediately started thinkering away and just never stopped. I got my first synth (Yamaha DX 27) when I was sixteen as a gift from my cousin Boy George (it’s a long story). I then played keyboards in various bands but always seemed to gravitate towards a more instrumental/soundtrack style. I also worked as an animator (on cult classics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Speedracer), eventually this all led to my first big break, scoring a 26 x ½ hour animation series, it was pretty much word of mouth and constant hustling from there.
Fast forward… I landed a UK agent a few years back who put me in touch with various clients including Pusher, I had never considered trailers at all but Pusher were very supportive and I quickly grasped the structure and discipline needed. After a while it all started to click and I had some placements in UFC and Comic-Con trailers; then things ramped up pretty quickly and last year I landed the official US trailer for Prometheus with my cue “Ex Tenebris”; in the same week I also landed another massive trailer but at the last minute the films composer decided to score the trailer himself so that one got away. This year so far I landed cues in the official US trailers for Captain Phillips (Starring Tom Hanks) and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which I’m absolutely thrilled about!
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire trailer features “Dark Matter” at 1:13.
TMN: What is Dark Matter Sound?
DV: It’s a collective title I use for collaborations outside of the typical TV/film trailer projects, I sometimes work with a friend of mine, Mark Walsh, who’s a talented musician, sound designer, manager and web designer, we’ve directed and scored two short films/videos and we co-composed an original song for Disney recently.
TMN: What do you like about trailer music in particular?
DV: I love the challenge, the excitement and the spectacle of it all, I love the adrenaline rush I get when composing a trailer cue. Unlike film and TV scores, trailers have little time for ambiguity, grey areas or mixed emotions; it’s all about a singular tone, a sound or a powerful theme, for me it’s like taking the entire energy and emotion of a feature score and condensing it down into two minutes of raw power. I definitely think this is the golden era for trailers and I’m excited to be a part of it all. I’ve learned so much about music and myself as a composer in the last three years and all from trailers, which has surprised me more than anything.
TMN: Which companies have you already worked for?
DV: For trailers I work exclusively for Pusher (for about two years now). Outside of trailers I’ve worked for Disney, Sky, Cartoon Network, Mike Young Productions, Tele Images, Chorion, etc. I just finished a series for Disney’s Tales Of Friendship With Winnie The Pooh and I co-composed an original song for Disney (going from Winnie to Prometheus in the same week was bonkers!). I also just finished a feature about the holocost which premiered a few weeks ago. I think I’ve scored about ten (26 and 52 part) TV series which has prepared me for working well under pressure… Bespoke trailer cues always have crazy deadlines!
TMN: What is your favorite placement so far?
DV: Has to be the Prometheus (official US trailer). I’m a huge fan and that was my first biggie; and I also considered dumping that cue “Ex Tenebris”, thinking it was a lemon… thank God I saw sense! Also The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (official US trailer) because the cue they used “Dark Matter”, which has a quite a history… Sorry, hard to pick just one.
The Prometheus trailer features “Ex Tenebris” from 0:36 to 1:11.
TMN: Do you have particular plans for the future?
DV: Have fun!… I was going to waffle on about releasing an album… future collaborations, etc… but none of that matters if you’re not having fun doing it… I stopped trying to plan everything out two or three years back and since then things have fallen into place. I’m just doing things with as little planning as possible.
TMN: Anything else you would like to share with us?
DV: This is a really cool video about creativity, Hans Zimmer himself uploaded this link to a composers’ forum recently, I think other composers or anyone creative will find this very interesting.
TMN: Very interesting video! Thank you Dean!