Spanish composer Lucas Vidal’s career was kicked into high gear in 2011 when he was nominated for Breakout Composer of the Year by the International Film Music Critics Association for the film “Sleep Tight” (“Mientras Duermes”). Although losing out to eventual Oscar winner Ludovic Bource for “The Artist,” Vidal’s stock rose quickly soon after.
“Now, a lot of people seem more interested in my work,” Vidal told me during an interview last week. “It has helped me to continue to do what I love doing. I think I’m going in the right direction.”
This year, Vidal composes the score for “The Raven,” his first film released nationwide by a major studio. Directed by James McTeigue (“V for Vendetta”), “The Raven” tells the fictional story of a 19th century serial killer whose crimes are inspired by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack).
During our interview, Vidal, who made history at the Berklee College of Music in Boston when he became the youngest student to ever compose and record the score for a feature film with an 80-piece orchestra, talked about the process he undertakes when writing music for a film and named a couple of working composers today he draws inspiration from.
Did you do any research on Edgar Allan Poe to get inspired to write a score for this film?
I always try to do some research when I write a score, but for this one [McTeigue] wanted something different and something modern. That’s why we used electronic sounds with the orchestra.
That’s interesting. Classic composers like John Williams use only orchestras and then there are other composers who can go into a studio alone and create an entire score on a computer. You combined the two.
Well, I think everyone has a different vision. Both have value. Some people only like electronic scores while others like John Williams like to use orchestras. I like conducting and working with orchestras and making music for motion – whether its film or ballet or theater. I always enjoy supporting things that are visual.
As a composer, do you like getting a copy of the script before you start writing the score or would you rather start your work after the film is completed?
I got the script for “The Raven” first. Then [McTeigue] also started sending me rough scenes from the film. That’s how it started. [McTeigue] wanted something completely different than I thought when I first read the script. He wanted a lot of weird sounds. It was challenging, but it was a very good learning process for me.
What did you think you’d be writing when you first read the script?
You know, I thought it would be something more classical and more period-oriented. But that’s exactly what [McTeigue] didn’t want. It was actually quite interesting. But what he wanted worked out very well.
You’ve worked on thrillers before. What is it about the genre that you like?
I really like how it feels like I am writing a musical script. I get to write something that is not on the screen. In a thriller, you can really play with the thoughts of the audience. That’s what I think makes music magical. It can make people think in a certain direction.
Are there any composers working today that you consider at the top of your field?
I love [French composer] Alexandre Desplat (“The Tree of Life”). I love his style. I also love Alberto Iglesias. He’s from Spain. He works a lot with [director] Pedro Almodóvar (“Talk to Her”). [Desplat] was nominated for an Oscar this year [for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”]. His vision is great. There are so many great composers out there I can learn from.