Six Strings with... Penka Kouneva [Composer]

This something I wanted to share with you here for a couple of reasons and hopefully you will take the chance to meet one great person and my friend Penka Kouneva. Our label just released Penka's score called "A Warrior's Odyssey" and I have been helping promote it since it's release. I thought it would be nice to share the interview here on this site, because the score and Penka are something good. At the end is a opportunity to be part of the adventure as Penka is offering a few free and cool items to start or add to your collection.
-Jeremy [Retro-Zombie] 

- Tell us about the release A WARRIOR’S ODYSSEY and the inspiration that helped make this idea a reality?

Penka Kouneva: My goal was to grow as a composer, and to master new ideas in film and game scoring. The initial impetus was to compose a few combat action tracks, and to develop a personal “voice” blending Eastern European sound with modern Hollywood scoring. Recently I had amazing opportunities to compose additional music, working alongside the Transformers composer Steve Jablonsky: on Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a Korean game A4. I felt compelled to build upon these opportunities. 

- This is your second release with Howlin’ Wolf Records and the first that is not a film score or game score, yet the music is still very cinematic… How do you anticipate fans of your work and film score enthusiasts will see this album musically? 

Penka Kouneva: I hope the fans will enjoy it musically and will be moved by the emotions and feelings, imagining a story in their mind. The music is very cinematic yet very personal – it deals with the personal and universal feelings of struggle, defeat, hope, picking oneself up and carrying on. I thank Wall Crumpler of Howlin’ Wolf Records for believing in my vision about this CD when it was just an idea and a few sketches.

- Tell us about the musicians and orchestra that performed the music in A WARRIOR’S ODYSSEY.

Penka Kouneva: We had live brass recorded in Hollywood with top studio players, live string quartet (Katia Popov, Stephen Erdody – top Hollywood musicians and supporters of my work for the last decade). The film composer and cherished friend Nathan Barr (True Blood, Hostel) played bowed guitar-viol, also my amazing colleagues helped me with programming of the drum loops and synths, since we had such incredibly short time to get it done. These talented composer-arrangers were Dave Holden, Chris Lord, Fred Emory Smith and Mike Rubino. We also had a fantastic percussionist, MB Gordy, duduk player and many others.

-  Walk us throughout a typical day in the life of Penka Kouneva the person and the composer?
Penka Kouneva: I am also the lead orchestrator on ABC’s episodic drama “Revenge” and orchestrate on all Blizzard’s games (World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III). We have a daughter in the first grade -- much of my time this fall is taken with her homework, reading and spelling. I love nature and enjoy walking and hiking. I don’t compose every day, but I listen and absorb a lot of what is around me.

- How do you feel on-line marketing is transforming the work done by musicians and composers and does what you are seeing excite you or concern you or maybe both?  Particularly many film score enthusiasts shake in their boots out of fear that physical CDs may go the way of the dinosaur – Do you think this will be the case or do you think a special market will always exist for collectors of film and game scores?

Penka Kouneva: I cherish the fans of soundtracks and am grateful for their support. Of course physical CDs will continue to exist. I personally love to read liner notes, to hold a CD in my hand and I do play lots of CDs in the car. I also listen to tons of music online. We’ll see how online marketing will work out for A Warrior’s Odyssey …

- How do you plan to celebrate the accomplishment of this achievement now that the album has been release for fans and film score/game score enthusiasts to enjoy?

Penka Kouneva: My hope is this album to be heard by as many people as possible. It is personal achievement for me and I hope it will resonate with the fans, both musically and as a story of perseverance and never-ending hope. My greatest joy would be the fans embracing the album, spreading the word … it would be a dream come true.

- Where do you see your path leading after A WARRIOR’S ODYSSEY?  What is the next great frontier for you to conquer? 

Penka Kouneva: My professional goals are to score one studio film and one big game a year. I am passionate about big, epic stories – action, fantasy, Sci-Fi, human-interest stories. Something like Matrix 1, Equilibrium, Knowing ….

- You are clearly not afraid to chart your own course – do you intend to do it “your way” or what compass will guide you forward?

Penka Kouneva: My compass is related to my core values: to be the best parent I can be, to realize my musical talent, and to maintain my health, which has been compromised a lot during the years of getting established in Hollywood (severe sleep deprivation, sitting 16-hour days on the computer with no break, overworking my right hand). As to the realization of my talent, yes, of course I will pursue scoring films, games and will compose instrumental albums …. I’ve decided to create a stand-alone instrumental album every year….  I wanted to say once again, thank you for spreading the word about A Warrior’s Odyssey and enjoy!

MESSAGE TO THE FANS: the composer is offering 2 BONUS TRACKS (as mp3s) and a signed AWO poster - while the supplies last (mailed to you) to fans who spread the word about AWO on their networks, blogs, etc. Email a link to, with a request to receive the bonus tracks & poster.


Check out the latest reviews, music and scores/soundtracks at Howlin' Wolf Records: On-Line Magazine or find the latest horror sites over at Horror Blogger Alliance. Or last but not least visit My NEATORAMA Store at [Retro-Zombie] there is always something going on and it is one click away!


  1. Fascinating! And she scores Blizzard's games? Those are some of the best on the market.
    Penka, hope your CD does well!

  2. Stopping by from Alex C's blog. Good luck hitting 500! 9 more to go! ;)

  3. a delightful lady, and as you know there's nothing I love more than some Eastern European elements in epic music, since I'm from the region too :) There's nothing prettier than hearing Serbian, Bulgarian or Macedonian voices in touching movie scores for epic films.


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