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Composer Corner: Tyler Strickland

Randy Tobogan
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Composer Corner: Tyler Strickland

I recently had a chance to catch up with renowned indie film composer Tyler Strickland, whose latest work for The Mars Generation has been racking up acclaim by the truckload. We discussed creative inspiration, some of Tyler's most memorable moments in Hollywood, and more. 

How does your score for Mars Generation compare to other space films?

Well, we had a very creative team on this film and we were all interested in making a movie that highlights how cool space is. I think that most space films go for the big orchestral direction which is great and certainly powerful, but we wanted to get into the heads of these kids and have a lot of their excitement about space exploration come through in the score. I think that the score for The Mars Generation is something totally unique compared to other space related films.

What are some unique instrument or synth choices that you used in the scoring.

Yeah. I used a lot of vintage synth from the 80s to pair with many of the sequences in the film that showed the history of the space missions. Everything from Prophet 6 to the Korg Polysix, which is my favorite synth ever. As the film progressive we get caught up in the more modern space missions and all of those scenes in the international space station...the score takes on a much more modern approach with these scenes. One scene even has a very dubstep kind of approach. There are a couple of scenes in the film about robotics that I went with a very mechanical, electronic kind of sound for.

How do some of the other projects that you've done differ from Mars Generation in the way that you score them?

I've had a great opportunity to work on many documentaries...Audrey and Daisy...Hot Girls Wanted...are among a few others that are also Netflix originals. I'm really happy with the other films I've worked on but The Mars Generation and our director Michael Barnett gave me the opportunity to make something very unlike anything in another doc. But then again the subject matter kind of demanded that. In most of my documentaries the music needs to be cautious, not fight with the dialogue. One of our major goals in The Mars Generation was to keep the audience at the edge of their seats and convey the excitement that these kids have about space.

What's been your favorite Hollywood moment?

I came out here to California and mixed the first movie I was working on at the Skywalker Ranch. It was this small independent film that had a lot of promise to it and we had the chance to mix the film with Gary Rizzo who does all of the mixing for Christopher Nolan's films. This was my first experience in Hollywood and working on movies anything like this. I come from being in a band and this was a totally foreign idea of doing this for a living. I had the chance to work with Gary closely. We were watching a scene from this movie together and he looks over at me and says "you should be doing this more often. I think this is something you should be doing. I think within six months I moved to L.A permanently and it totally changed my career.

Do you have any advice for aspiring composers?

Yes. Keep writing, stay creative, don't compare yourself to anyone else's careers. Be the artist you want to be and people will respect and approach you for that.

Do you have a scene that you enjoyed scoring the most in the Mars Generation?

The Apollo Mission scene is a favorite of mine for sure. The archival footage in that scene is totally inspiring eye candy. I also had a chance to work on that particular scene with my friend Jimmy from the band The Album Leaf and we use a lot of old synths of that scene as be honest I'm not sure but it may be a tie between that scene and the SpaceX scene. Both are huge musical moments in the film.

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