Interview with the Film "DEVIL'S WHISPER" Composer Penka Kouneva

Jeremy [Six Strings]: First, thank you... always a pleasure!

Jeremy [Six Strings]: Please tell us more about the film "DEVIL'S WHISPER", how did you become involved and how you approached this project musically?

Penka Kouneva: Devil's Whisper is a psychological thriller about the 15-year old Alex who comes from a religious family and aspires to become a Catholic priest. One day he discovers a mysterious box, opens it and unleashes a demon bent on destroying him. On the surface Devil's Whisper is a supernatural horror film about demonic possession, but at its core it's a tale about repressed memories, childhood trauma and the cycle of abuse that affects so many children. I was recommended by two dear friends, Joe Kraemer and Mark Lanza. I have genuine passion for horror, fantasy, supernatural and SciFi stories and am naturally drawn and energized by these stories. Devil's Whisper  is a richly layered and beautifully produced story. It's blood-curdling when it needs to be, and riveting from the first frame to the last. The film tackles subjects like faith and religiosity, coming-of-age and adolescent characters in a tasteful and compassionate manner. I approached the project like a modern supernatural tale, with a subtle, mostly non-traditional score in the vein of The Conjuring. The main ingredients of the score are low pulsing throbbing synths, textural effects and a mournful motif for Alex's angst. Like most horror scores, the music needs to balance between the human drama (with more traditional, heart-felt thematic motifs) and the demonic forces (with scary and explosive synths and sound design textures).

Jeremy [Six Strings]: Did you get a certain level of musical freedoms for the film "DEVIL'S WHISPER" or did the director Adam Ripp have a specific direction?

Penka Kouneva: Adam Ripp was fantastic to work with. He presented to me an inspiring and cogent artistic vision - his completed film. He gave me clear directions on the ethos of the score and the palette he thought would be fitting. Prior to meeting him, I had been doing a lot of heavy orchestral scores on my recent games and CDs, so I jumped instantly at the opportunity to compose a non-orchestral, non-traditional score. Adam was the perfect collaborator and I so much enjoyed working with him. I also brought in my co-composing partner of 10 years, Christopher Lord because of his mastery with complicated synths and orchestral design. Chris made a great contribution to the demonic palette.

Jeremy [Six Strings]: With the film "DEVIL'S WHISPER", what do you hope the audience will take away from your music and will we see a physical/digital release?

Penka Kouneva: Devil's Whisper is a terrific genre film that leaves people with deep emotional experience and also with food for thought. The music is both emotional and very scary. My role is to support the storytelling and to create that emotional backdrop that will make the film a visceral and unforgettable experience. The DVD hit the stores October 3rd !! The digital release of the soundtrack is planned for November when the film becomes available on VOD. Check it out!

Jeremy [Six Strings]: Since we last talked you have found a world of composing success with your personal releases "The Woman Astronaut" [VS] and "A Warrior’s Odyssey" [HWR]... how do you feel about those releases and what they meant to you to have them in the world?

Penka Kouneva: My passion projects are the best, most personal music I've composed and I am grateful that I created them. The Woman Astronaut brought me a scoring job for the American Astronauts - a new $30M NASA exhibit titled "Heroes and Legends" permanently located at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I have a new orchestral CD coming out in November on Varese Sarabande titled Rebirth of Id.

Jeremy [Six Strings]: Share some of the work you have done, who are some that you have worked with and something that you took away from those or felt inspired?

Penka Kouneva: This year I scored The Mummy: Prodigium Strike Virtual Reality game. It was a fun project battling zombies and providing the music signature for the Special forces. I'm super-excited about the possibilities of VR for storytelling, gaming, and beyond entertainment. What inspires me most is opportunities to create innovative scores where I combine various elements in a novel and fresh way. Devil's Whisper was most definitely such an opportunity. While I still am passionate about game scoring and have a few games out there (Cookie Jam 2, Chime Sharp, Chobolabs' Mayhem), I am also pleased that 2017 has brought me 3 more feature films to score - Paul Salamoff's Sci-Fi thriller Encounter, and two other drama features in progress.

Jeremy [Six Strings]: Outside of your talented writer/actor/producer/husband Daniel Schweiger [respect], where do you find your inspiration that sets you apart and different than other composers? Is there a certain music appreciation among other composers, I can imagine you interact with composers daily.

Penka Kouneva: Yes, Daniel still plays one soundtrack every morning, which is very inspiring and informative for me. 14 years together - that's over 5,000 soundtracks that he's played in the house. These days I'm most inspired by storytelling - stories about heroes, villains, women's experiences, history, fantasy, space, science fiction, horror. Currently I'm reading See Through My Eyes, a collection of ghost stories; a story by my dear friend Victor Rodriguez published in it inspired my new orchestral album Rebirth of Id. The game that most inspired me this year is Horizon Zero Dawn. I still listen to a lot of music but these days I'm composing more and focusing on telling my own stories and writing my own music (passion projects), in addition to all jobs that are always going on. Musically, I am most inspired by the phenomenal talent and mastery of a fellow game & film composer, Neal Acree. I have the honor of orchestrating his music for all Blizzard video games.

Jeremy [Six Strings]: If you could spread one message to a new composer, what might that be?

Penka Kouneva:
01. Write fantastic music. Write music that inspires people so much that they would be dying to collaborate with you.
02. Learn, learn, learn, compose, compose, compose … the craft of music is a deepest ocean of possibilities …. being fluent in your composing skills is paramount.
03. Be a caring human being, and cultivate circles of creative communities around you, because your circles of friends and champions will bring the most inspiring scoring jobs to you. OK, three messages.

Jeremy [Six Strings]: What can you share with us outside the film "DEVIL'S WHISPER" upcoming projects or something you would like to mention?

Penka Kouneva: Yes, three upcoming features - Encounter, Blue, the 3rd one is NDA and also one NDA video game. I am a freelance composer and always on the lookout for new collaborators and new opportunities.

Jeremy [Six Strings]: You have the floor, share something you would like people to know?

Penka Kouneva: I wish all my readers a happy and fruitful Fall season and much success! I am grateful and humbled by the love and support of my fans - you make all our work meaningful and real. Enjoy Devil's Whisper!


Penka's Music:

"Heroes and Legends" - Gemini 8 [CLICK HERE]
"Alarm & Rescue (TWA)" - [CLICK HERE]
Coming soon - Devil's Whisper

Penka Kouneva is known across Hollywood as an exceptionally talented composer and artist of uncommon passion. Her credits include the games Prince of Persia and Transformers (with themes by Steve Jablonsky). She has scored on her own a dozen indie features: Chloe Moretz's Third Nail and Josh Duhamel's Dorian Gray; the supernatural horror feature Devil's Whisper on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and Paul Salamoff's SciFi drama film Encounter. She has also scored games and The Mummy VR experience. Recently Penka scored a $30M NASA exhibit Heroes and Legends  at the Kennedy Space Center celebrating the American astronauts. Varese Sarabande released her orchestral CD The Woman Astronaut and Howlin' Wolf Records released her A Warrior's Odyssey CD. In addition to her career as a composer, she has also worked as an orchestrator/arranger on some of the biggest films (Matrix, Transformers, Pirates 3, Elysium, Ender's Game, Ninja Turtles) and games (Gears of War, Sims, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo 3). Penka was born and raised in Bulgaria and currently lives in Los Angeles with her music editor husband and 11-year old daughter.  

I am everywhere: TWITTER, FACEBOOK, HWR: SIX STRINGS MAGAZINE and HBA [HORROR SITES]. Last visit MY T-SHIRTS STORE at NEATORAMA something always going on and it is one click away!

Interview with Game Soundtrack "PROJECT CARS 2" Composer Stephen Baysted

Jeremy [Six Strings]: How did you come to work on the "PROJECT CARS" game soundtrack and how much creative freedom did you have on the latest "PROJECT CARS 2" compared to the previous one?

Stephen Baysted: I’ve been fortunate enough to have composed the music for all Slightly Mad Studios’ games stretching right back to their first game release in 2004. I had a great deal of creative freedom for Project Cars 2. However, as composer and audio director for the series, my role is always to serve the needs of the game.

Jeremy [Six Strings]: When creating music like "PROJECT CARS 2", where did you find your inspiration or do you find you have a ritual?

Stephen Baysted: Good question! Inspiration comes from many sources: deadlines, walking in the countryside, being by the ocean. There’s no ritual as such, but I begin each project by doing research on the subject matter and I find that it helps to get things kick-started.

Jeremy [Six Strings]: Congratulations on your nomination from the "Golden Joystick Awards" for "PROJECT CARS 2" for all your hard work in creating a great score like this... how is this different from a film "nod" to a game "nod" of appreciation?

Stephen Baysted: Thank you very much! It’s always an honour to be recognized for hard work, especially when you’ve been working on a project for such a long time. I think nowadays they are quite similar, although what makes the Golden Joystick Awards so special is the fact that they are voted by the audience.

Jeremy [Six Strings]: Your career has many different levels from game, television series and film... where do you find is the most rewarding or could you please share one of your favourite of each?

Stephen Baysted: This is a difficult question. To be honest I really enjoy the variety of projects, working with new people and collaborating on new ventures. Each is a very different medium to work in and I’m not sure I have a favourite!

Jeremy [Six Strings]: Can you share some upcoming projects?

Stephen Baysted: Work has already begun on my next game project due for release in 2019. It’s a major Hollywood film franchise tie-in but I can’t say too much more about it at this stage! I’m also working on various TV series at the moment, one of which is with Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge and the BBC.

Project CARS 2 is nominated for Best Audio [Click Here] in the 25th Golden Joystick Awards (VOTE HERE) and the original soundtrack is out now on Spotify and iTunes.

Stephen Baysted

Renowned for his versatility, emotionally charged and expressively powerful music, Stephen Baysted's acclaimed music scores have been enjoyed by audiences worldwide in a succession of award-winning films and video games including the best-selling racing series Project CARS, EA's Need for Speed series and Phil Grabsky's 'Exhibition On Screen' series of films bringing blockbuster art exhibitions from galleries around the world to the cinema, in stunning high definition. Baysted is an in-demand film and television composer whose credits include two seasons of Blink Film's epic documentary series "Ancient Mysteries" for Channel 5, Blink's "Volatile Earth" for Channel 4 and Nova, and "Graveyard of the Giant Beasts" for Channel 4 and PBS. Earlier this year, Baysted also reunited with award-winning filmmaker Phil Grabsky and Seventh Art Productions to score "I, Claude Monet," a new documentary feature in the acclaimed 'Exhibition On Screen' series. Their previous collaborations include "Renoir: Reviled and Revered," "The Impressionists - And The Man Who Made Them," and the Royal Television Society award-winning "Matisse: Live from the Tate and MoMa". His scores for these important landmark factual documentary series have been nominated for three Jerry Goldsmith Awards for Best Score. Stephen is currently scoring a new three-part series exploring Tutankhamen's treasures with Blink Films for Channel 4 and a six-part factual series with Bone Soup Productions for BBC2 and Michelin Star chef Tom Kerridge.
I am everywhere: TWITTER, FACEBOOK, HWR: SIX STRINGS MAGAZINE and HBA [HORROR SITES]. Last visit MY T-SHIRTS STORE at NEATORAMA something always going on and it is one click away!