Composer Marc Vaíllo has just released his third feature, the horror film in 3-D entitled XP3D Paranormal Xperience, by Sergi Vizcaíno, for which he has been finalist this year to the XI MundoBSO Awards. He was also with his first film, El habitante incierto (2005), by Guillem Morales, for which he was as well nominated to the Jerry Goldsmith Award, to which he too opted for his work in the TV miniseries Ull per Ull (2010), that deserved him a candidature in the awards of the IMFCA (International Film Music Critics Association).
In XP3D, a psychiatry student sets out to prove or deny the existence of the Hereafter and travels with her sister and some friends to a mining town that hides a dark history. Ignoring warnings, she opens a path which consequences are unpredictable, including among those to meet the composer, with whom we have talked.
- What attracted you of the project?
I feel comfortable in the horror genre, it allows to experiment a lot on a musical level without necessarily alarm producers. Instead, directors are accustomed to like innovation. Another aspect that attracted me was that the film was in 3D.
- What were the indications of the director?
None in particular, he gave me absolute freedom to make decisions and weigh what it could be better for the film. I could decide where and when to insert the music, and how to structure and develop it. At first, Sergi gave me some ideas, particularly about the fact that the film followed the Slasher genre conventions, but finally he put it all up in my hands. There was a complete harmony and trust.
- But for the results it seems that you do not follow many of these codes…
I’ve tried to add a little more emotional depth, if you can call it, making it a kind of drama. I do not want to compare myself, but it is what is often done by James Newton Howard when working with M. Night Shyamalan, for example in The Sixth Sense (1999) and in The Village (2004), which were sold as horror films and are really dramatic films. I wanted to do that: that in the context of terror may surface the feelings and emotions of the two sisters protagonists, and that, at the end, were brought against evil. I focused in the two of them and to the other characters I chose not to explain them with music -except for the antagonist- to not hamper the process of musical narration.
- The sentimental theme, that of the two sisters, is a theme that shows its cards from the very beginning, and basically you maintain it. But I find particularly interesting the music you have written for the monstrous doctor. You link it emotionally and intellectually to a very unpleasant musical motif
That was something the director loved and also the sound fellows: to associate the doctor to that recurring motif of demisemiquavers on electric guitar, which works more at acoustic than musical level, and acts as an alarm when the doctor is going to appear. There are actually two motifs: the nine demisemiquavers of Dr. Matarga on one side, and the four notes motif in a kind of free turn that groups the two themes, on another, and that has different melodic and harmonic structures depending on the place where it appears: in the major and minor mode on the theme of the sisters, augmented and diminished in the theme of the doctor and in various places like in the sequence of the slaughter.
- You certainly use it as leitmotif, as a warning of his presence, but also you develop it as theme. We must not disclose details of the film, but this theme ends up hatched, like a butterfly coming out of its confinement and that suddenly starts to fly, completely free… and it is when the horror that had been attacking the characters and the viewers becomes even more beautiful than the own theme of the sisters…
Yes, it is just that. Moreover, in reality to me the two themes are the same, despite its great distance in color, melody, harmony… they are built by the same motivic material. But of course we can not disclose here the details…
- Where did you recorded?
We recorded in Budapest, as in Ull per Ull, but in another studio with a similar training symphonic orchestra. I will only tell you that in a standard session (4h) we took almost 30 minutes of music, when it is usually from 15 to 20 valid minutes, so everything was pretty intense. I only ask the industry to invest a little more on music production budget: the difference of having an orchestra (and time to record it) for a film is abysmal.
Williams, Herrmann and Prokofiev bubbled in my mind on regard to color, instrumentation and orchestration (the first for the theme of the sisters, the second for the Doctor). Also Newton Howard in the use of motifs and building of textures, and in the idea of linking the two central themes through a motif that at the same time builds all the melodic elements, harmonic, of structure and orchestration of the score.
- I also appreciate a Deleurian color…
Well, I did not think on him when writing the music. Of course Delerue is a genious composer, but I do not appreciate in the music that beautiful romanticism you seem to propose in the question. Anyway, I’m glad if my music is close to his elegance.
We have also talked with the director, Sergi Vizcaíno: When I first met Marc we talked about how important should be the music at a narrative level, and that also it must had an emotional charge. Despite being a Slasher, I tried to highlight the relationship between the sisters, but I wanted the figure of the Doctor to have a physical presence, recognizable. Therefore, two themes very recognizable. I trusted much in Marc and he has been able to go much further, because the music ends up transporting you in a film that itself moves on chaotical grounds. My relationship with him was very fluid, I gave him some guidelines, but I gave him total freedom to create the musical script.
Good luck to both with the film!
© Conrado Xalabarder y MundoBSO, 2012