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Interview with Stu Phillips

Date of publishing: 31th August 2005

Stu Phillips Stu Phillips is a well known music composer in the industry. He worked with the bests such BB King in the sixties and his musics are well known by science-fiction fans and not only them for his Battlestar Galactica theme and Knight Rider's. These themes have been listened all over the world for years and now are became classical of the soundtrack music available on many CD compilations and re-orchestrated many times.

Gilles Nuytens: Hello Mr Philips, You have a big musical career behind you, which are the things that the most marked you in all these years ?
Stu Phillips: Of all of the many projects I have worked on, I guess I would have to say that "Battlestar Galactica" is the one I enjoyed the most and am most proud of. Secondly, having produced three world-wide #1 records is also high on my list.

Gilles Nuytens: The themes you composed for Galactica and Knight Riders have became cult themes, still today people are humming them. What do you feel about this and what do you feel on the fact that some of your musics are became big classics of soundtrack music ?
Stu Phillips: I am very pleased to know that my music has affected the lives of many people. There is a man who was a soldier in Vietnam who had some of my music with him. He said that he played it every day to help keep his moral up. His story moved me and I now realize the contribution to people's lives that my music had.

Battlestar Galactica Original SoundtrackGilles Nuytens: Some years ago I think a singer made a reprise of Knight Riders theme, I can't remember his name but the song got a success. What was your feelings on this subject, did you took a part on it ?
Stu Phillips: I assume that you are referring to the "Busta Rhymes" rap recording that utilized the Knight Rider theme. There was also a recording by "Timbaland & Magoo" as well as a recent one with "Panjabi MC with Jay Z. I had nothing to do with any of these recordings. As long as I get paid... I am happy.

Gilles Nuytens: There's also many various re orchestrations of the theme of Galactica and Knight Riders for CD's compilations, what do you think of these re orchestrations in general ?
Stu Phillips: Many of the BSG recordings are great. I especially like the one by the Cincinnati Pops and the one by the Boston Pops. (Actually, both of those recordings were performed from my original scores.) As for the "Knight Rider" re-orchestrations... I dislike most of them. The only one, so far, that I really like is an arrangement by Chris Waddell which is in the David Hasselhoff album called "Sings America."

Gilles Nuytens: What are your inspiration source for your musics ? What are the things that allow you to give emotions ?
Stu Phillips: As a film and TV composer, the film itself is supposed to be the inspiration that drives you. Sometimes it does... and sometimes it doesn't.

Gilles Nuytens: How is it with the creation of a soundtrack of a movie/TV show, do you first create the main theme and after, you adapt it for the different scenes of the movie ? Do you create the music after, before or during the shot of the movie ?
Stu Phillips: Most of the time, with some exceptions, the music is created after the film is finished. I prefer to compose the main theme first, if possible, and then integrate it into the score. There have been a few occasions where I have written a few cues first, so as to get a feel of the type of music I will need to write, and then create the main theme based on what I will need in the body of the show.

Gilles Nuytens: What do you think about the new Battlestar Galactica TV show ?
Stu Phillips: No comment.

Gilles Nuytens: You have composed some additional musics for this new show, but did the producers have proposed you to create the main theme of the opening credits ? Would you have liked to compose it?
Stu Phillips: The producers never contacted me to do anything on the new show. What ever music of mine from the old show that they used, was without my knowledge. However, two weeks ago, Bear McCreary, the composer of the new BSG, came to house to get some scores of the music to the original BSG that he wants to incorporate into the new one.

Stu PhillipsGilles Nuytens: Do you sometimes listen to your musics for pleasure ? Working so much on them, that doesn't weary you to hear them ?
Stu Phillips: I rarely listen to my music, but recently that is changing. With all of the new soundtrack CDs that are being put out of my music, I am having to go back and listen to all of music. Sometimes I am quite pleased with what I hear. Other times... well... I think I could have done better.

Gilles Nuytens: Which authors do you usually listen to relax ?
Stu Phillips: When I drive in my car I only listen to classical music. It keeps me relaxed and in a good mood for driving. My favorite classical composers are: Rachmaninoff... Shostakovich... Ravel... Sibelius... R. Strauss... Mahler etc.

Gilles Nuytens: During the CD soundtrack creation process, usually, the musics on the CD are adaptations of the music from the movie or is it excatly the same without any post-work ? In this case, you haven't really some works to do ?
Stu Phillips: Sometimes the music from the film or TV show is used exactly as it appears in the film. Other times it is re-recorded. Most often it is remixed and re-mastered from the original tracks.

Gilles Nuytens: How was it on the set of Galactica, did you sometimes visit it or did you work always outside ?
Stu Phillips: I visited the set of Galactica many times and became friendly with several of the cast members.

Gilles Nuytens: What is your point of view about the P2P? This system has positive and negative sides. It allows unfortunate people (poor people that cannot buy all CD's they would like or unfortunate countries that doesn't release these CD's) to discover another culture, to discover new artists, etc. Some people buy the CD's after having discovered some songs on Internet. The negative point is that many abuse it and big companies are hunting them and it is often students that pay for the others. So, you have worked in the industry for so many years, what's your opinion ?
Stu Phillips: My opinion of P2P is much like yours. There are good points and bad. I suppose if no one abused the concept it would be a good thing. Unfortunately, I have been on the wrong side of many bootlegged CDs of my music, and P2P only increases the ease with which bootleggers can get hold of the material. I know that many companies are starting to accept the concept of P2P and finding it a good way to introduce the public to new music and new artists. We'll have to wait and see how it all unfolds.

Gilles Nuytens: A big thank you for this interview, could you tell some words to people like me that like to hum sometimes your musics ?
Stu Phillips: I really appreciate the enthusiasm of all of you fans towards the efforts put forth by we composers. It's wonderful to get the job to write the music, and even better when you get paid. But those things are nothing when compared to the idea of knowing that people like all of you are out there enjoying the music we compose. Bless you all. Thanks for the interview. Regards,

Stu Phillips

Interview by Gilles Nuytens for The Scifi World


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