Chris Walden…

Written by on September 20, 2012 in CD / DVD Releases, Interviews, Music and DVD Reviews, News To Shout About!, September 20, 2012 - Comments Off on Chris Walden…

Chris Walden: Composer, Arranger, Extraordinary Music Man

Chris Walden

The latest project of four- time Grammy nominated composer, arranger and conductor Chris Walden is scoring the indie black and white feature film King of Herrings. Co- written and co-directed by actor Eddie Jemison (Ocean’s Eleven) and Sean Richardson (GoodbyeHello), King of Herrings is a film based in New Orleans about a group of small time wannabes who find themselves in a strange tug-of-war over a childlike woman looking for a way out. Chris Walden scored the film using only six instruments including trumpet, celesta, and a 150 year old harmonium.      All Access Magazine (AAM) recently sat down with this extraordinary talent (CW) for a far-reaching interview about the music Chris composes and so much more.

All Access Magazin (AAM): Let’s start by discussing the upcoming film you are scoring King of Herrings. How did this project come your way?

CW: A couple of years ago I scored a film called “Monster Mutt” which was produced by Seth Meier. Seth asked me if I was interested in scoring the movie that he’s currently producing and introduced me to writer/director/actor Eddie Jemison. I met with Eddie to discuss ideas for the film’s music; he liked the direction I wanted to take the score.

AAM: You’ve scored over forty feature and television films throughout your career. What was your gateway into the entertainment business?

CW: I started my career in Germany as an arranger for local radio big bands and radio symphony orchestras. I got into scoring films by accident when I was working for a singer/songwriter who was asked to score a film, but didn’t know how to. I didn’t know either, but he asked me to arrange and orchestrate his themes and I learned everything about film music on the job while doing it. That movie got nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1992 and that opened the door to future scoring jobs.

Chris WaldenAAM: You have received four Grammy nominations, two in the jazz category and two in the classical category, which is quite an accomplishment. Could you tell us a little about those two albums? Any hopes for Grammy’s this year?

 CW: The first two Grammy nominations I received for the Chris Walden Big Band: Home of My Heart album. This album was a large jazz ensemble. The second two Grammy nominations I received were for my solo album Symphony No.: 1 The Four Elements. I recorded with the Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra, which was amazing. Recently, I worked on arrangements and conducting tracks with Michael Buble on his Christmas album, Christmas, produced by David Foster. I also recently worked on the Arturo Sandoval album, Dear Diz. My arrangements from these albums I put up for Grammy consideration this year.

AAM: What is your process for creating a score for a film?

CW: I meet with the director when the film is either in the final cut stage or close to it, and we discuss where music should go and I convey my ideas for the musical tone of the film. We call that the “spotting session.” Then I go into my studio for 4-6 weeks and write music scene by scene. After the director approves the demos I record the music at a scoring stage with the orchestra or with smaller groups of musicians at my studio or other recording studios.

AAM: Very few people can lay claim to having been involved creatively with sport’s granddaddy of them all, the Super Bowl, and yet you have arranging credits for two opening songs. How did that come to pass?

 CW: I was writing arrangements for American Idol and the musical director at the time was Rickey Minor. Rickey has been the music producer for the Super Bowl pre-show for years and I have been fortunate to work with him on numerous projects aside from American Idol. That year Rickey turned to me to arrange the National Anthem for Jennifer Hudson. Then 48 hours before the show Faith Hill heard the Hudson arrangement and liked it. I did an arrangement for her performance of “America The Beautiful.” It was the shortest time I have ever had to write and record an arrangement.

AAM: You also have your own music project, the Chris Walden Big Band. As a native of Germany, what made you decide to form a US Big Band?

CW: I had a big band in Germany and initially I didn’t plan on forming a band in the US. When I moved to L.A. in 1996 I started booking musicians for commercial projects I was working on. After the sessions the musicians would come up to me and express their interest in playing music of mine that I would write just for myself. We started rehearsing my jazz charts just for fun at the Musician’s Union, and that was the start of my big band in the US.

AAM: With the advent of the digital age and downloading, in your opinion how has that changed the way consumers might ultimately have access to your music?

CW: The digital age has enabled the consumer to access my music more easily. I have to say that this easier way to access my music doesn’t necessarily mean that I get adequately compensated for it because of illegal downloading and free listening services. What might be great for the consumer is not always great for the artist. Many musicians need to sell their music to survive. I think artists deserve to be compensated fairly for their work.

AAM: As successful as you are now, where do you see your career headed in the next five years?

CW: As a composer, arranger, producer, and conductor, I’ve been fortunate to work with many of the greatest musicians of out time. I have reached a level of success that I would have never dreamed of 25 years ago, but at the same time I still feel like a beginner, trying to learn as much as I can about writing music, realizing that there’s still so much more to learn. I am excited to see what the next five years have in store.