All The Right Notes: A Chat with "Teen Wolf" Composer Dino Meneghin
Emily Koopman: First off, let me say that I'm a huge fan of your work. I was very excited to see that you were going to be doing a panel at WonderCon. What originally got you interested in music – and more specifically, composing?
Dino Meneghin: I started playing guitar at about age seven. My dad had some Jimi Hendrix and Ventures 45's at home, and I wanted to play like that. Little did I know the road I was heading down! As far as composing, that came much later. I think it gradually happened- I'd be on a session and think, "why am I just playing guitar? Maybe I should try producing," which then becomes, "why am I producing? I should be composing!" I've always loved the power of how music affects images.
Emily: You're currently working on the score for MTV's hit, <em>Teen Wolf</em>. How often do you find yourself on set?
Dino: Almost never- there simply isn't time for it. I did get to pop in last season for my cameo as the demon-posessed conductor, though.
Emily: The opening tune for Teen Wolf – ever since the show began – has taken the top spot for my favourite theme. It's so cool, and I think if I listened to it while I was doing something super boring, like eating cereal, I would feel that shoveling Cheerios into my mouth was the most epic thing ever. What was the writing process like for you? I'm dying to know how this beautiful masterpiece came to be.
Dino: Thank you so much! I saw the rough cut of the main titles before I wrote anything. There was some temp music in there that they had been using as a placeholder. I originally did something more in the vein of the temp, which was a sort of dubstep track. Jeff Davis wasn't sold on it and told me to just go with my gut, so I just watched the video with the sound off until I came up with something that really worked. It was nice to be able to do something that was much more of an instinctual thing.
Emily: Do you have a favourite piece of music that you've written? What makes that particular one stand out?
Dino: One of the things I really was happy with was the "This Might Hurt" promo piece from the beginning of the season. Getting to work with such an amazing choir, led by Tim Davis, was really one of the highlights of the season. It was a lot of fun to record, and it's always such a pleasure to work with musicians of that caliber. We're very spoiled here in LA for quality of musicians.
Emily: If you could lay claim to any score in film or television history, what would it be?
Dino: If you're asking for a favorite, I'd have to say Ennio Morricone's score to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is one of my favorites of all time. There is so much power in that music - such sweeping melodies contrasted with those chants and, of course, that iconic whistling. It fits the visuals perfectly and is just so beautiful.
Emily: I think you've been asked this before, but how do you put music to the show?
Dino: We have a "spotting session" where key people from the music team will sit with the editors and Jeff Davis and watch a new episode. We then decide what music will go where. Once those notes are made, we go away for about 5-7 days and write all of it. We usually do about 30-35 minutes of music per week.
Emily: You've worked with some pretty big names. What has been the coolest experience for you?
Dino: Getting the chance to work with Jeff Davis, Teen Wolf's Executive Producer, and Laura Webb, our Music Supervisor, has been a real highlight for me. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could be in a position to have my own show, and to get to do it with people I both admire and genuinely like is very special. In my past life as a guitarist, working with Michael Bublé was a pretty spectacular experience. I'm still friends with him and the guys in the band. It's the only group I've worked with where I was able to keep in touch with everybody even after I wasn't working with them. It's just a really great group of people- Michael, the production staff, the crew, and the band. I just saw them all at the Staples Center- it was a great show.
Emily: At what point do you know that a piece is perfect?
Dino: When I have to stop working on it because I have a deadline!
Emily: How has your composing process changed since the first thing you ever did?
Dino: The longer you do something like this, the quicker you are able to do it, and the less you have to think about technical concerns. As you become more technically adept, you're able to focus a lot more on aesthetics and the emotional impact, rather than just worrying about hitting every mark you need to get.
Emily: Are you working on any interesting projects right now?
<strong>Dino:</strong> 2014 Looks like it's going to be a really fun year, but I'm not at liberty to discuss anything now. When I can talk, you'll be the first to know. ;-)