We chat with composer Ryan Shore about Star Wars: Galaxy of Adventures…
There is no reason kids should have to miss out on the pop culture phenomenon that many regard as one the best franchises ever to be created, Star Wars. That’s exactly the reasoning behind Disney’s Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures, which premiered late last year on the new Star Wars Kids YouTube Channel. Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures is a series of animated shorts that aim to introduce the classic themes, pivotal moments and iconic characters from the Star Wars saga to the next generation. There are many unforgettable elements in the Star Wars franchise, one of them being the famous score by composer John Williams. For Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures, a new composer is taking the reins from Williams, even though the original Star Wars theme is sometimes incorporated. That composer is Emmy and Grammy nominated Ryan Shore. We decided to speak with Shore about everything from his favorite Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures episode to what John Williams score he has enjoyed most.
You are currently scoring the animated series Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures. How did you become involved with this project?
I was first introduced to Lucasfilm by my friends at GhostBot, the animation production company for the series Star Wars: Forces of Destiny which was the first Star Wars animated series I scored. Ghostbot and I had worked together before on advertising pieces, and when they signed on for Star Wars: Forces of Destiny they recommended me to Lucasfilm for scoring. I’ve absolutely loved working with my friends at Lucasfilm on Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, and I couldn’t have been more excited when they reached out to ask if I would score Star Wars: Galaxy of Adventures.
Do you have a favorite Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures episode, musically? Why?
I have many favorites, however among them is the “Luke vs. the Death Star” episode. I’m really proud of the way the score addresses the moment when Luke is channeling The Force, which is a different interpretation of that moment in the film. I’m also really proud of the way I was able to weave in and out of John Williams’ original recordings with my original score to sound like one cohesive piece.
The Star Wars franchise has such a huge fan base. Do you ever feel any extra pressure because of this when working on the series?
I try not to feel that extra pressure when I’m writing because when I’m composing, I really only want to be feeling and thinking about the scenes I’m scoring. That said, there are definitely times after I lift my head up from working that I think about the how expansive the Star Wars franchise is, and it’s impossible to not feel how much love the fans have for Star Wars. It’s at moments like that when I do feel more of the pressure, however I try not to feel that in the moments when I’m actually writing. On a related note, when I read fan comments to videos of the series or articles written about the series, it’s incredibly rewarding to see they notice and appreciate all the hard work and attention to detail we have when we create them.
How would you describe your score for Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures?
There are actually two Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures series which I’m scoring. One is Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures proper, and this series is scored with a very traditional Star Wars musical language with full symphony orchestra and choir. Another series is Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures Fun Facts, and it has a completely different musical language which I use. For Fun Facts, I compose entirely with contemporary and synth-based sounds and I don’t use any orchestral instruments at all.
John Williams’ Star Wars themes have become some of the most recognized scores of all time. Does he ever give you any input for the Star Wars projects you are working on?
I haven’t received direction specifically from John Williams, however I do receive direction about the use of John Williams’ themes through our producers at Lucasfilm. One aspect we talk about often is to make sure that when we quote John Williams’ themes we’re careful to make sure they are used correctly and at the appropriate times. One of the reasons being is because his themes are so iconic and recognizable that in a way it’d be very easy to play any of his themes at any time and the scene will immediately sound like Star Wars. Therefore, we’re very careful to use the themes judiciously so as not to overuse them and to therefore maximizing their musical impact when they are heard.
What is one of the biggest differences in scoring live action as opposed to an animated series such as Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures?
The art of scoring live action and animation is largely similar. The composer is inspired by the story, direction, script, acting, editing, pacing, visuals, colors, set design, costumes, and so many additional aspects. One of the biggest differences I find is that animation is typically storyboarded and re-storyboarded over and over again over, and often over an extended period of time, so that everything on the screen is there for very specific reasons in order to make sure the story is clear and effective. I find all of that incredibly detailed and creative work to be tremendously inspiring when I’m composing.
Which John Williams Star Wars film score have you enjoyed the most?
John William’s score for A New Hope holds a particularly special and unique place for me because A New Hope’s score established the entire musical language and principal character themes for the Star Wars franchise. This score also had a large impact on the film scoring community as a whole as it is often credited as helping to bring back the sound of classic orchestral scores to major Hollywood films in the late 1970’s, and that is a sound that we continue to develop and explore today.
Thanks to Ryan for taking the time for this interview. You can learn more about Ryan at http://ryanshore.com/.