Chat: Guy Gross
||Guy Gross, Farscape Composer
||May 15, 2001
Moderator: Welcome, Guy. Do you have any opening remarks for the group?
Guy: Well, I'm really pleased to be doing this,
Guy: nice change from work
Moderator: Before I open it up to the group, I have one vitally important question:
Moderator: what is the correct pronounciation of your last name?
Guy: not Grose as in grose out. It's gross that rymes with boss
Moderator: <OboeCrazy> to <Moderator>: Hi Mr. Gross! Thanks for chatting with us! I was wondering if you'd tell us a bit about your background, what instruments you play, where you studied, and how you got into television music.
Guy: I studied at the conservatorium in Sydney
Guy: it's a selective high school
Guy: kinda like that"fame school"
Guy: but a little less glamerous
Guy: my parents are film producers so it all kinda jelled
Moderator: <Cush> to <Moderator>: How much, if any, of the shows music is done digitally?
Guy: it's practically ALL digital.
Guy: I use samplers almost entirely
Moderator: Can you describe a bit the kind of set-up you work on, and how you go about making up the music for each episode?
Moderator: (or perhaps better phrased: <Thinkum> to <Moderator>: Guy, what are the steps you initially go through, when you have a new episode to score? )
Guy: Well, actually for a picture of my room (and me, go to: http://www.ggm.com.au/ggm/ggmstudio.html
Guy: I work entirely alone. (no, I'm not going blind). I have a cute little setup, tailer made for Farscape. I have a whole bunch of samplers at my finger tips. Unfortunatly time and money mean that there is rarely anything "live" in my score. It's all samples.
Guy: Me and the director spot once every 2 weeks and decide what goes where, then I get to work
Moderator: <Luggage7a> to <Moderator>: Glad you could join us. What do you consider a good score? Something you don't notice while you're watching the movie/episode?
Guy: It's gotta propel the intent of the scene.
Guy: If someone is sad, I gotta make them seem sader
Guy: if there's a chase on I gotta make it seem more dangerous or frenetic etccc
Moderator: <Chryse74> to <Moderator>: What is the most difficult part of scoring a tv show?
Guy: Actually, I find FS really a joy.
Guy: the only real problematic scenes from me are
Guy: things that aren't outside my musical vocabulary
Guy: like disco!!!!
Moderator: <Gmmas> to <Moderator>: The new opening theme is exciting...tenser...what sort of guidelines were you given in developing it?
Guy: OK wait, I knew this would be asked. I've prepared an answer hang on
Moderator: (prepared??? is that allowed?)
Guy: maybe read it all later.. but here it is:
Guy: The music for the season three opener was created over a 3 week period. It was decided that rather than simply create a new arrangement of the previous theme, I would compose an original theme that made gentle musical references to the old theme. As a result the credits read: "theme composed by Guy Gross, adapted from the original theme by Subvision"
Guy: I compose, perform and produce my music using a vast array of samplers and synthesizers (predominantly EMU Ultra 4XT's and Kurzweil K2500R's) and use sequencing software called "Digital Performer" running on an Apple Mac G4/500. My sample library is mostly made up from the Peter Ziedlaczek's Advanced Orchestra CDRom library set with addition samples from my personal library recorded and created over many years.
Guy: sorry, read later perhaps
Moderator: <Ex-Dragon> to <Moderator>: I too want to thank you for taking time out and talking to us fans. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Guy: would you prefer actual discussions??
Moderator: well, you could tell us all the stuff you've already prepared answers for and then give it to us, so we can ask you other stuff and try to stump you. ;)
Guy: woops, next question: Inspiration comes from training
Guy: stump away.
Moderator: basically, feel free to take your time and answer in as much (or little) detail as you like.
Moderator: we don't have to stop for commercial breaks. :)
Moderator: <Chryse74> to <Moderator>: Hi Guy, thanks for joining us. Was it difficult taking over the music in the middle of the series?
Guy: Nice question
Guy: yes, apart from the fact the the previous composers were collegues of mine
Guy: but the breif to me never included using the old music as a starting point
Guy: they (producers) liked what I did for the pilot
Guy: asnd wanted more of the same
Moderator: <GutPageant> to <Moderator>: The 'Agnus Dei" at Aeryn's funeral was beautiful-- but why use something so recognizable--and so HUMAN?
Guy: Well, i'm a big fan of classical music (incase you couldn't tell)
Guy: and I still find it "moves the savage beast"
Guy: So lyrically it was an obvious choice
Guy: but musically it's a kinda modern take on very well established baroque traditions
Moderator: And it's actually a spoiler -- in season 6 we find out the Sebaceans all speak Latin.
Moderator: <------ kidding.
Moderator: <Thinkum> to <Moderator>: So, do you watch the episode through first, and just wait for inspiration/training to get you rolling on the score? Or, is there a more specific approach you use?
Guy: Yah, I try not to watch it too much.
Guy: I'm really just like a viewer in this sence
Guy: that I trust my emotions
Guy: and let the scene carry me through it musically
Guy: don't forget, we're dealing with pretty speacial performances
Guy: it's hard not to tune into the subtle emotion on screen
Moderator: <MindCrazed> to <Moderator>: How long does it usually take you to complete the music for one episode?
Guy: I give my self 5 days, with 5 days for problems, fix ups, days out with my kids
Guy: I have to deliver within 2 weeks
Moderator: <Cush> to <Moderator>: Do you assign certain "sounds/scores" the different characters/species?
Guy: Only scopy
Guy: he has a weird synth sound
Guy: it's not even really musical
Guy: I use is under what ever the score is doing
Guy: I don't really like using recuring themes in TV work.
Guy: I find it monotonous
Guy: each ep has it's own feel whist still staying within that FS sound
Guy: It's OK for features where you've got 90 mins
Moderator: (scorpy, he meant....we'll fix that in post.) ;^)
Moderator: <RydraWong> to <Moderator>: What's been the hardest scene to score?
Moderator: <QBall> to <Moderator>: What was the most difficult / challenging ep you've done, and why?
Moderator: <stargatetravler> to <Moderator>: Hi Guy! Which one of the eps have been the easiest to score for, which the hardest and which one your favorite?
Moderator: (three similar questions, all in one shot)
Guy: The work I'm most proud of is on Die Me Dichotomy, particularly the dog fight and Aeryns death scene and of coarse her funeral
Guy: the hardest was that ep that took place on earth
Guy: forgot the name
Moderator: Not Human Reaction...Won't Get Fool Again, that's the one.
Guy: yah, that's it.
Guy: there was styles that were really out of my confort zone
Guy: I was also really happy with Eat Me. I recorded a whole bunch of new samples for that one. Tenor Horn, Shakahatchi and violin.
Guy: Also the locket was great too do. Real human emotion is terrific to work with.
Guy: I'm actually stumped to find my best episode musically to submit for awards. I'm open to suggestions.
Moderator: What's a "shakahatchi?"
Guy: it's a japanese bamboo flute
Guy: I taught myself to play it
Guy: it's really erry
Moderator: <Gmmas> to <Moderator>: In the lighter episodes, like Beware of Dog, is it hard to make the music add to the humorous tone without going overboard?
Guy: which was that ep again??
Moderator: That was the one with the little alien scurrying around and humping Aeryn's leg.
Guy: Oh ya, I loved doing that one
Guy: could you tell it was a bit of an ode to Goldsmiths score to Gremlins
Guy: But you're right, humour is really hard to score
Moderator: <OboeCrazy> to <Moderator>: Has there been times when you've made conscious decissions NOT to have music durring a specific scene?
Guy: well, it's mostly discussed at the brief
Guy: and I'm the first to say "there's too much music"
Guy: but generally we like over scoring FS
Guy: it's not a series of subtleties
Moderator: <TracicarT> to <Moderator>: Your website is a great resource of information - did you do it yourself?
Guy: Thanks. I wrote it up and had a friend do the webbing etc..
Guy: simple but effective
Moderator: <Jamal-Walker> to <Moderator>: Guy are you going to be at any conventions any time soo if so when and where
Guy: Wow, I never considered it
Guy: don't forget, I'm down here in OZ
Guy: it's a little difficult
Moderator: If you find yourself in the US or UK, I'm sure there are plenty of conventions that would love to feature you as a guest.
Guy: I'm game
Moderator: Definitely look into it.
Moderator: <Eloy> to <Moderator>: Are there other film/TV composers whom you consider influential to your work?
Guy: Bach, Stravinski, Shostakovitch.
Guy: Danny Elfman, (the man can do no wrong!) Elliot Goldenthal (Aleins III) Wojciech Kilar (Dracula)
Guy: but mostly I let music around me influence
Guy: I listen to various radios stations
Guy: I have a really small CD collection
Guy: actually, I hardn't listen to music at home
Guy: but real influences are probably
Guy: the composers I studied at high school
Guy: berstien, bach, vaughn williams
Moderator: <GutPageant> to <Moderator>: Your style seems to be classically inclined. Are you influenced by any rock music? Might Moyas' crew one day be adventuring to the strains of the Sonic Youth of the Uncharted Territories?
Guy: I'm afraid not. That's really NOT my forte.
Guy: The subvision boys were better at that approach
Guy: I think we've got comfortable with the classical scoring approach
Moderator: Perhaps you've just answered this, but:
Moderator: <Eloy> to <Moderator>: What do you see as being different between your music and Subvision's?
Guy: Oh, delicate question
Guy: you know, I think I'd rather let you guys decide
Moderator: here's another "stump the composer" question:
Moderator: <MindCrazed> to <Moderator>: You used the same background music in the Jakench cockpit and LGM-part 3 (John trying to shoot Scorpy), was there another reason other than they were similar scenes? I loved that you did that.
Guy: remind me, what was the Jakench cockpit?
Moderator: Yeah, remind me too.
Moderator: What's a Jakench?
Moderator: LGM 3 was the last of the 3-parter at the end of the season.
Moderator: <MindCrazed> to <Moderator>: Latp-part2 where john jumped off the ship
Moderator: <Gmmas> to <Moderator>: Look at the Princess, ship Crichton goes crazy on , then takes walk in space
Guy: Not sure what scenes you mean but I havn't meant to re-use things
Moderator: Well, it sounds like it was within a multi-part episode, so that can't really be considered "reuse," can it?
Guy: I guess it's the same composer it's going to sound the same sometimes
Moderator: <DragonPhoenix> to <Moderator>: Have there ever been times when you are totally stumped as to what you want to use for a scene?
Guy: ya sometimes
Guy: it's the weird ones generaly
Guy: normal drama is OK. I've set that style
Guy: but dance clubs, and complex emotions are hard
Guy: but that rare
Guy: fs is pretty obvious in terms of emotion
Moderator: <Stevepalmer> to <Moderator>: please give my compliments to mr Gross and ask him what kind of mixing and dubbing equipment he uses.
Guy: check my site for details but essentially
Guy: I use digital performer
Guy: and EMU and Kurzweil samplers
Guy: everything is mixed internal to DP
Moderator: For those who missed it before, the URL is http://www.ggm.com.au/ggm/.
Guy: yep, ga
Moderator: Speaking of mixing, how involved are you in the final mix?
Moderator: Do you keep telling them to crank it up?
Guy: I go to the "mix playback" and give my comments
Guy: actually mostly I'm telling them to turn it down
Guy: especially in the more intimate scenes
Guy: but there's a healthy conflict between my and the FX editor
Guy: but I usually win out
Guy: music really tells the emotional story
Guy: but I guess if you see an explotion, you gotta hear it
Guy: so I tend to avoid writing for piccolo over a big bang
Moderator: And at the end of the day, you get to put out CDs of your music but Mr. FX Editor doesn't get to release CDs of his big bangs. :)
Moderator: Speaking of CDs,
Moderator: <ElectricWhisper> to <Moderator>: Are you going to make a few cd's of your work?
Guy: Well I hope you all have a copy of the 1st one
Guy: to tell you the truth
Guy: I never really expected for the FS underscore to be put to CD
Guy: It's really tailer made for the screen
Guy: I don't "dot my i's and cross my t's" when it's going to be under heaps of FX
Guy: so some of the cues are a bit messy around the edges
Guy: this season I'm paying more attention to cues that might make a good 2nd album
Moderator: (CD available from GNP Crescendo, http://www.gnpcrescendo.com/)
Moderator: <Luggage7a> to <Moderator>: who has the final say about the music? Ever gotten into an argument?
Guy: The supervising director (Andrew Prouse)
Guy: Arguments, nope. I'm not that precious
Guy: It's just a bunch of notes
Guy: I put them in a certain order
Guy: I can put em in a different order
Guy: but to date everyone has loved what I do
Guy: fingers crossed it continues that way
Moderator: We've got to get Andrew on for a chat. I think he's one of the underappreciated talents behind Farscape, and it's time for him to be dragged out into the spotlight (and asked about his underwear preference, naturally). We'll work on that one.
Moderator: <Cush> to <Moderator>: When you first saw FarScape (or heard about it), what were your impressions?
Guy: I was really impressed with the "on screen" quality
Guy: I what composer wouldn't love to do sci-fi. It's a dream come true
Guy: you get to do really bombastic stuff one day....
Guy: and really beautiful gentle the next
Moderator: <Thinkum> to <Moderator>: where in the mixing process do you get your copy of the episode, to start working on the score? are the CGI there? is it the final edit?
Guy: It's the final edit, but often has rough "wireframe" images for the CGI shots
Guy: if they're important for me sync wise I ask for the new images as soon as they're ready
Guy: but generally I don't see them till the mix playback
Guy: it's kinda funny writing a huge chord for a weird wire frame shot that will eventually look like a huge space expance
Moderator: Another pair of related questions:
Moderator: <Chryse74> to <Moderator>: What other shows/movies have you scored for?
Moderator: <Jamal-Walker> to <Moderator>: guy are you planing on doing any music for any other movies
Guy: My biggest claim to fame is scoring "the adventures of Priscilla, Queem of the Desert"
Guy: you know, the grag queens in outback OZ
Guy: but I also do alot of kids animated music
Guy: Blinky Bill, Dumb Bunnies, Flipper
Moderator: I'm going to invoke Moderator Priviledge and ask a question.
Moderator: We've heard Ben Browder sing a few times already, and I think one or two of the other cast members have suggested they can carry a tune...
Moderator: do you think we might ever see a real musical number in a Farscape episode?
Guy: Well, did you know that Wanye actually played the drums in Won't Get Fooled Again
Guy: but no other plans for a big musical number that I can tell you about
Moderator: (oooh...."that I can tell you about." start the rumor mill now.)
Moderator: <RydraWong> to <Moderator>: You mentioned your "ode" to the Gremlins score - do you often include musical references and in-jokes like that
Guy: It's just for fun
Guy: just like whenever I talk to certain friends, we innevitably speak a pythonism or two
Moderator: <Eloy> to <Moderator>: If you were to score a Farscape movie, what would you do differently from the TV music?
Guy: A real orchestra for a start!
Guy: That would take it to another level
Guy: And thematic development would come into it
Guy: features are very differnt beasts to series work
Moderator: <Evan> to <Moderator>: Thanks for chatting with us, Guy! Would you ever consider allowing Fan-produced music on the show? Or be willing to incorporate it into your own? (If yes, then you'll like the CD I'm sending Ricky in a month) Thanks, Evan -Chianite for life
Guy: what do you mean?
Guy: Oh, another composer?
Guy: well, you're welcome to pitch
Guy: but I refrain from collaborations
Guy: it always ends in tears
Moderator: <Evan> to <Moderator>: Fan artists sending in material inspired by the show
Guy: I'd love to hear it
Moderator: <RydraWong> to <Moderator>: Have you tried to develop a distinct "Farscape flavour" for the music, or do you approach each ep (or scene, even) individually?
Guy: Well there's a flavor in that I stick to a pretty tight music pallette
Guy: and I explore reasonably know early 20th century musical styles
Guy: so I hope it's recognisably FS
Moderator: <OboeCrazy> to <Moderator>: The tone of Farscape can change dramaticly from show to show (comedy, drama, horror, ect...). Do you enjoy composing more for one style then another?
Guy: Nice to hear from you OboeCrazy. I see your posts sometimes.
Guy: Yes, that's why I love FS
Guy: I get to do all sorts of things musically
Moderator: no favorites? did you leap up when you read EAT ME and think, "great, a horror ep!"?
Moderator: (or "oh no, a horror ep!")
Guy: great a horror ep
Guy: I'd just scored a horror feature called CUT starring Molly Ringwald
Guy: and wasn't too impressed with my result
Guy: so another bite at the cherry was nice
Guy: I loved that ep
Moderator: <Stevepalmer> to <Moderator>: as always my compliments to Mr Gross, has a piece of music or a score emerged as a possible theme for John Crichton? And I loved Priscilla btw
Guy: no, no real JC theme
Guy: again, I try and stay away from themes because each chachter goes through so many emotions
Guy: that one theme wouldn't do them justice
Moderator: <QuietI> to <Moderator>: Earlier you mentioned musical in-jokes and quotes -- has there been any thought about syncing up Ben's pop culture references with accompanying music? The 3 Stooges leaps to mind, but I'm noy sure how/if it would work... what do you think?
Guy: I sometimes doi it
Guy: remember when he kept humming the US anthem
Guy: or was it somthing else
Guy: anyway, I preceeded the melody in the score
Guy: pretty subtle but fun to do
Guy: the directors always get a laugh
Moderator: <Thinkum> to <Moderator>: Ride of the Valkyries
Guy: Can't get too obvious
Moderator: <Eloy> to <Moderator>: What other music references can you tell us about? (I've thought I'd noticed a Star Wars reference or two... was I right?)
Guy: Well considering that Williams in Star Wars is drawing from the same musical refernces as I
Guy: than I guess there's going to be similarities
Guy: go and listen to Holst - The Planets and tell me there's anyting original in todays scifi scores
Moderator: Guy, we've just passed the one hour mark. Do you have to go back to the (music) keyboard, or can you stick around a bit longer?
Guy: Happy to continue for 20 or so
Moderator: Super! Which ep # are you currently working on now?
Guy: I'm in the middle of ep 211
Guy: Oh it's fun
Moderator: <Chryse74> to <Moderator>: Do you or have you composed original music on your off days? What are your personal/professional goals?
Guy: Nope. I don't touch music when I'm not scoreing for film
Guy: weird eh
Guy: I used to , but now it's a proffesion
Guy: that I happen to love doing
Moderator: <GutPageant> to <Moderator>: Do you ever shake your head in amused disbelief at some of the scenes you need to score?"Look at the Princess" for example--'Hey! We need some alien lounge music here!'
Guy: That's the great thing about FS
Guy: you never know what's next
Guy: look at the eat me cliffhanger for instance
Guy: who'd have thought!!!!!
Moderator: <QuietI> to <Moderator>: Are you a fan of the whole scifi genre? Do you have particular authors or movies that you consider your favorites?
Guy: No sorry, I'm a bit new to it. Just love the classic sci fi movies
Moderator: <Eloy> to <Moderator>: Besides your own, what would you consider to be your favorite movie/TV soundtrack(s)?
Guy: Dracula really sticks in my mind
Guy: and actually the Toy Story scores are great
Guy: And anything Elfman does it superb
Moderator: Is being down in Oz an advantage or disadvantage for you?
Moderator: Would you consider being closer to LA?
Guy: Well the beaches are nice here
Guy: and as long as I'm being challenged creativly I'm happy to stay.
Guy: I've got a family and LA doesn't really sound appealing in that sence
Guy: I'm a humble quiet guy
Guy: So bring the films down here and I'm happily do 'em
Moderator: Everyone gets asked this eventually, so here's your turn:
Moderator: <TracicarT> to <Moderator>: (If this gets asked, I blame Thinkum for putting the thought in my head) Mr. Gross, in keeping with Farscape chat tradition - boxers, or briefs?
Guy: briefs. All my life. What do you asks the women?
Moderator: Same thing, mostly.
Moderator: So when Thinkum isn't putting off-color thoughts in other people's heads, she's asking more mainstream questions of her own.
Moderator: <Thinkum> to <Moderator>: does Farscape keep you busy fulltime, or do you still have time for other projects?
Guy: Actually I'm directing an animated TV series for kids called OLD TOM
Guy: but if I didn't have that I might take on the accational work
Moderator: Ooops, I lost my next question.
Moderator: (bad Moderator, bad!)
Moderator: quick, someone ask something brilliant.
Guy: Maybe I should tell you about this ep I'm on
Guy: maybe not
Moderator: Oooh, tease.
Moderator: Is there anything you can tell us about to listen for, without giving away any plot spoiler details?
Moderator: Anything that turned out especially well?
Guy: Well, I use the baroque style for grand moments
Guy: and there have been a few lately
Guy: I really love doing them
Moderator: <Thinkum> to <Moderator>: what would you Most like to work on, after Farscape
Guy: I actually hope they keep going for a while
Guy: it's great to wake up and WANT to get to the office
Guy: but feature work is nice if you can get it
Guy: few and far between
Guy: but I'm in no hurry
Guy: feed the kids, pay the mortage, swim in the ocean and I'm happy
Moderator: <QuietI> to <Moderator>: When you say "grand moments", are they of the type to make the shippers happy? You can *hint* without giving spoilers, right? (wink, wink)
Guy: I guess, but also, out of body stuff. Like when time stands till and we're all sitting on the edge of our seats
Guy: wondering what's going to happen
Moderator: <Thinkum> to <Moderator>: once you've completed an episode's score, do you put it out of your head? or is it frustrating, to not be able to see the finished product on the air in Australia?
Guy: Well, I see/hear it at the mix
Guy: but yah, I'm really hanging out for the DVD's
Guy: which look like they might be a while
Moderator: Well, we're just about out of time.
Moderator: If you've joined us in the middle, check the transcript at scifi.com/transcripts tomorrow for some useful URLs.
Guy: Well it was really fun. Nice to see people pay attention to the music
Guy: let's do it again sometime
Moderator: And everyone, don't forget our Farscape author chat with Keith R.A. DeCandido (hope I spelled that right)
Moderator: this Thursday night.
Moderator: Thanks again to Guy, and to all of you for the great questions.
Moderator: We now go unmoderated -- apres moi, le deluge.