Interview with Superhuman
Superhuman is a British music duo, specializing in hard-hitting music for movie, TV and video game advertising campaigns. Their credits include Noah, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Elysium, 47 Ronin, Assassin’s Creed III and many more.
TMN: Tell us a bit about yourselves. When was Superhuman founded? Who is part of the team?
S: We are Liam Westbrook and Robin Stout, we have known each other since we were kids, we grew up playing in various orchestras together from a young age.
We’ve done many different things in our time from sound design and composing for games to being signed in bands and playing in dirty clubs around the U.K and Europe.
We used Rob’s house as a studio for years, mainly producing and writing songs, and then as things developed we got a proper studio space. Often we found that with all our experience and influences, that we particularly enjoyed rocking up to the studio each day and doing something completely different. This then rolled over into the general idea of Superhuman as an artist, which we founded in 2012.
TMN: How did you get into music composition, and more specifically trailer music?
S: We grew up listening to bands such as Radiohead, Massive Attack, Portishead, Jeff Buckley, The Pixies, Nirvana and older artists such as Bowie and The Cure, but also shared a keen interest in film scores. We wrote a few tracks for the BAFTA winning UK TV drama Topboy a couple of years ago, plus some of our songs were picked up on programmes such as Skins and various commercials. We then got introduced to Pusher, through a mutual friend. They seemed to be into what we were doing and they were like “Do you guys fancy pitching on a trailer for The Dark Knight?” And the rest is history! Funnily enough, the track we wrote didn’t make the Dark Knight trailer but did get picked up for the final Battleship trailer, it was the first thing we had written for them, so as you could imagine, we were keen to do more.
We both compose, record, and produce everything ourselves. We tend to rely on our own musicianship when recording, but we do get in session players every now and again, like a string quartet or a horn section. We also try and get something recorded live into every track that we do, be it a big wall of guitars, or drums, strings, piano, vocals or whatever, we always feel that a live element can really help make a track. We love the scope there is when writing music for trailers, it feels like you have the creative freedom to do whatever you like, blending instruments and styles. As long as you’re clear with the emotion that you’re after and confident with the musical ideas, then you can just go for it.
TMN: You are currently working with Pusher Music, who publish your music. Can you tell us a bit about your cooperation with them?
S: It feels like Pusher are our people on the inside. We regularly talk about music and films that we like and we’re constantly bouncing ideas back and forth. These guys are musical taste makers, we’re very privileged to be working with them.
TMN: What is your favorite placement so far?
S: We love that our track “Kill for Fear” got picked up for the first trailer for 47 Ronin as it really was us busting out all the guitars and drums for that one. Our track “Damned” was a big one for us too, which we composed for the E3 Trailer for Assassins Creed III. Just in terms of the amount of attention we received from it, hitting well into the millions of views on youtube.
But probably our favourite placement was when our track “Icarus” was used for the final Star trek: Into Darkness trailer. We busted our balls working on that campaign, from late 2012 through to the final trailer mid 2013. We had tracks in play at various stages in the campaign including the superbowl spot, we thought it was all over, and then along came the final one!
TMN: You won a Key Art Award in 2013 for your work on this Star Trek: Into Darkness trailer. How did it feel when you received this award?
S: It’s great to be even considered. Let alone win. Especially when you see some the big guns of composing that are also recipients. Star Trek is a great franchise and we’re proud to have been a part of it.
TMN: Do you have particular plans for the future?
S: Last October we went out and caught up with Pusher in LA which was awesome, so we hope to be spending a little more time over in the U.S again this year. The plan is to make a lot more music as we’ve got tons of unfinished ideas and half written tracks. We really want to do a public release at some point, which is what we are working towards. We just finished our first feature film, so we are going to be looking at more film work as well.
TMN: Anything else you would like to share with us?
S: Nothing beats someone playing your track out live in a stadium and then adding pyrotechnics for extra effect!
Our track “And the dead were at my feet” being used by the Memphis Grizzlies as their player intro.
Superhuman’s music is currently not available to the public for purchase. For licensing information, visit www.superhuman.co.uk.