Interview: Independence Day: Resurgence Composers Thomas Wander & Harald Kloser

independence-day-resurgence soundtrackIndependence Day: Resurgence sees Austrian-born composers Thomas Wander and Harald Kloser team up yet again with blockbuster director Roland Emmerich, producing an epic score to mark the return of the aliens after 20 years. The composers took time out from their busy schedules to answer some questions from Paul Simpson…



At what stage did you get involved with Independence Day: Resurgence – very early on, or once production was well underway?

Thomas Wander: Since Harald was one of the producers on this film I got involved very early on. I did get to read early drafts of the script and basically started to write motifs and thematic material as soon as I received the first dailies that Harald sent to me from the set.

Harald Kloser: We’re always involved from the very beginning. At some point I usually call Thomas and send him a script, asking ‘do we wanna do this?’. It does often come in handy to be at the top of the information chain during the making of a big movie.

What was the initial brief?

TW: To use David Arnold’s theme in key moments but that the new film should have its own musical identity.

HK: I would ad that we were basically briefing ourselves. And then ran it by Roland (Emmerich). This was our seventh collaboration with him. Things usually work out without much talk and drama.

WHitmoreWas the intention to build on David Arnold’s score, or to create something different that referenced the original periodically? At times, it feels as if the ID4 themes are being used in the way Bear McCreary used the original Stu Phillips Battlestar Galactica theme in the reworking – i.e. when the past was being specifically discussed: was that a factor?

TW: We decided to use variations of David Arnold’s theme in key moments and primarily for scenes with Thomas Whitmore (the “old generation”) and when there were references to the first movie.

For the “new generation” of characters I wrote new themes and new thematic material. We also decided to have more of a hybrid score, mixing traditional orchestral colours with electronic elements.

HK: On this one Thomas had come up with a really catchy young hero theme. And that just came around more and more. It’s perfect.

MothershipWere there certain set pieces that you built the score around, or was it one that flowed organically from start to finish?

TW: I wrote specific thematic material, for example for the new generation of pilots, the friendly aliens (the sphere), etc. These themes then developed as the story of the movie evolved.

HK: Very early on we also agreed to infuse a layer of other-worldly synth sounds. Like in the opening or during the landing of the massive mothership.

On a purely practical note, how do you compose together? Do you divide up the cues and write separately, or write different elements of each cue?

TW: Usually it happens organically when deciding who is responsible for which plotlines/characters. I write on my own and play my pieces to Harald for additional feedback before Roland gets to see them and vice versa.

HK: …And I’d like to mention that our collaboration is kind of different on every movie.

Independence Day ResurgenceDo you play the music into the computer software as you watch the picture, or do you actually write the dots out when you’re composing? How much do you leave to the orchestrator(s) in terms of the voicing of the music or are you very specific?

TW: I compose at the keyboard and write themes and motifs down on a piece of paper so I can quickly look at these if wanted to reference these motifs/themes in other cues for other scenes.

My demos are very specific and well produced, all notes for all the instruments are in my demos. I basically orchestrate while I’m composing.

HK: I also write into a computer software (logic pro x), but for sure not as elaborately worked out and orchestrated as Thomas.

id4-gallery5Which track from the album (or scene in the movie) do you think epitomises your music for the film?

TW: The last track (‘IDR Finale’) includes most of the thematic material for the new film.

HK: Thomas was definitely the leading creative force on the IDR soundtrack. So I’m gonna go with his choice too. Although I also like the atmospheric mix of synth and orchestral scapes in our score.

What was the greatest challenge of scoring this?

TW: Where and how to use David’s theme delicately so that it’s an integral part of the new score.

HK: This was perhaps the most difficult movie score from my perspective, because the cut kept changing and changing, until the last possible moment.

How do you feel cinema scoring has changed over the 20 years since the first film came out, and how did you reflect that in the music you wrote for this?

MaikaTW: I think nowadays there tends to be much more music in films. Scenes that would have played without music 20 years ago would probably be scored today.

HK: The fact that every editor can create a perfect temp score, derived from the best film scores of all time, makes our profession substantially different from 20 years ago. Films need to be tested with audiences, usually way before composers gets their hands on them. And so every composer has to write cues that sound like the temp track at certain points in a film, because everyone loves the temp, and because it works. The reason why many scores these days sound similar. Not great for film music in general.

What were your parameters for choices for the score album?

IDR Back CoverTW: Usually my goal is to select only these pieces for the soundtrack album which I think are enjoyable to listen to without the film and which make up a good representation of all musical aspects of the movie.

HK: Thomas is always the producer of our albums, and he’s super picky with the tracks. I usually would add a few more…


The Independence Day: Resurgence soundtrack is available from Sony Classical on digital download and CD

Many thanks to Beth Krakower and Sony for their assistance in setting up this interview


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