EXCLUSIVE: An Interview with KRYPTON Composer, Pinar Toprak!!
If you're a superhero fan (like me), then you would undoubtedly agree that we truly live in an age of awesomeness as many of the characters that we and love are being adapted into various forms of media for our consumption. One intriguing example of this is the new prequel series, Krypton, set to premiere tonight on SYFY. Set 60 years prior to the destruction of Kal El's (aka Superman's) homeworld, the series follows the exploits of his grandfather, Seg-El, whose House of El was ostracized and shamed. With Krypton’s leadership in disarray, Seg-El encounters Earthly time-traveler Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos) who warns he’s under the clock to save his beloved world from chaos. Fighting to redeem his family’s honor and protect the ones he loves, Seg is also faced with a life and death conflict – save his home planet or let it be destroyed in order to restore the fate of his future grandson.
As with any television series and/or film based on a superhero character, audiences often gravitate toward a couple of elements: casting, costuming, and music. With that mind, I was fortunate to speak yesterday with composer, Pinar Toprak, about the music for the new anticipated series. Not at all a stranger to the world of superheroes (particularly with characters from DC Comics), having scored music for last year's JUSTICE LEAGUE, I asked Pinar how she got involved with the show as well as her approach in providing musical themes to such a revered characters from comic book mythology. Additionally, I had her comment on her standing as the first female composer of a superhero television series. Check out our conversation below....
PT: Hey Brandon, nice to meet you!
BT: Nice to meet you too!
PT: Thank you for having me!
BT: Absolutely! So, I'll start first by asking, how did you get involved with the series, Krypton?
PT: Sure! (Reminiscing) I recall that it was a Friday night...(Laughing) I had received a call from my agent informing me to audition for this show called Krypton. Of course, at first, I really couldn't believe my ears, but apparently the folks behind the series were searching for a composer, so I demoed some music for a couple of scenes from the pilot - which will air tomorrow - and that was essentially it. Honestly it all happened pretty quickly! I would say by that Monday/Tuesday, I was hired!
BT: Alright, awesome!
PT: It was definitely surreal!
BT: Gotcha! So, in commenting about music - especially in terms of the music that we identify with superheroes - there are so many iconic scores out there. For example, with BATMAN, we have the score created by Danny Elfman, and with SUPERMAN, we have the memorable theme created by John Williams. Therefore with those musical scores in mind, I have to ask, was it difficult finding a balance - with this score - between what was recognizable to audiences, yet still making it different?
PT: Absolutely! Not to give spoilers, but in the 1st episode there are a couple of moments where I do pay a bit of an homage to the SUPERMAN theme; however, outside of those few moments, the goal was always to create something different. As audiences will discover, there are a lot of possibilities that can happen with this show. Therefore some of the things that audiences believe that they see and experience, probably will not be what they actually will see and experience. This show will be a very different take on everything [Superman]. So, with that in mind, I wanted to make sure [in developing the score] that there were some similarities [musically in what's come before], I wanted to make sure that there some unexpected instrumental elements that highlighted the various unexpected moments in the show. All in all, I definitely feel that we didn't need to repeat what's been done before; in fact, I feel that I was afforded a great deal of freedom to create the music for this world.
BT: Gotcha, gotcha! Now, my next question would be in regards to the show's antagonist. Apparently, it will be an obscure character by the name of Brainiac? (Laughing) Kidding...Brainiac, in actuality, is perhaps, aside from Lex Luthor, one of the most iconic villains in Superman's rogues gallery. So, as a character that has not made much of a splash in live-action (aside from Smallville), was it difficult creating a theme for such a revered character in Superman lore?
Brainiac as seen in SYFY's Krypton
PT: Absolutely! I've actually had the most fun creating sounds for Brainiac; in fact, I can recall two such moments in in Episode 1. With that said, initially I was going to do something really dramatic with his theme, but it didn't melodically feel right; therefore I started to experiment with different sound that left in line with the vibe that you - as the audience - might feel when you think of Brainiac. For instance, whenever Brainiac is on screen or mentioned, you - again, as the audience - are going to feel that particular "vibe" as I like to call it. A vibe that I very much belief is quite AWESOME!
BT: Great, great! Conversely, in regards to the protagonist, Seg El, was it tricky navigating through some possibilities for his theme - considering what we, as the audience, know about his lineage?
PT: So, there is a main Krypton theme that you [the audience] will hear pretty much from the start of the pilot; however, it some respects it will also act as Seg El's heroic theme. Still, with all of that in mind, despite a HUGE fan of the Superman legacy, I try not to allow it to intimidate me from trying different things with the music.
PT: (Continuing) Yeah, if I allowed the idea of doing the music for this show that is apart of Superman lore to intimidate me, I would GEEKING out all of the time! (Laughing)
PT: For example, I remember a friend calling me on one occasion, asking me, 'What are you up to right now?' To which, I responded with, 'I 'gotta write this theme for Brainiac!' (Laughing)
BT: ...and I'm assuming they responded with, 'WHAT?!' (Laughing)
PT: Yeah, exactly. (Laughing) So again, I try not to think too hard about the magnitude of writing the themes for such iconic characters because its undoubtedly a big responsibility. Therefore I try to make the process of writing these themes a lot smaller in head so that it doesn't psyche me out! (Smiling)
BT: Of course, of course. Now, my last question pertains to the field of composing. I understand that you are making history as the 1st female composer of a television superhero series. So, in lieu of what you mentioned earlier about not taking 'big moments' too seriously, could you comment on being at the center of this historical 1st?
PT: Sure! Throughout my entire career I've tried not to think that, 'Oh my God, I'm doing this [composing work] as a woman,' because I've never been anything but a woman.
BT: Of course.
PT: So, everything I do is with the same state of mind. However, I will say that I'm glad that things are changing in our world. There's more awareness...
BT: ...about diversity?
PT: ...which will hopefully lead to more change in this particular situation as well [as a female composer]. Still, each day, no matter what it is that I'm working on, I try to do the best that I can with what I need to accomplish that day; otherwise, I feel that if you think about what might happen or what something might lead to, its very easy to get off track and not focus on what you need to do. So, one day at a time (Smiling)
BT: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, Pinar that so much for time. I really do appreciate it! I look forward to what you have in store not only for Krypton, but also in future projects going forward!
PT: Thank you so much!
Interview conducted by Brandon Troy