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The Millennial Comet: Interview with Mark Snow

Interview conducted and edited by "Millennial Comet" staff writer and Editor-in-Chief Brian A. Dixon ([email protected]).

Here is a man who, to X-Files and Millennium fans, requires no introduction. From day one of both series he has been composing some of the most powerful underscore music we could ever hope for. He's used sounds in some of the moodiest, most atmospheric, and most frightening manners possible. That man is, of course, Mr. Mark Snow.

You'll find his name in the credits of every Millennium episode made. A powerful part of the Ten-Thirteen crew, Mr. Snow is the creator of the wailing violin sounds that are the very soul of Millennium's onscreen presence. He's given passion to Frank and Catherine's most emotional scenes and added an edge of excitement to each serial killer show-down. Without the sounds of Mark Snow running underneath it all, Millennium would NOT be the show it is today. It would not be the series we've come to know and love. To say that his creation influences Millennium's very being would not be an exaggeration. The element he adds to the dramatic events is invaluable.

So, without further introduction, I proudly present my recent conversation with the man responsible for giving so much to Millennium....

MC: "Millennial Comet"
MS: Mark Snow

COMING OF THE MILLENNIUM

MC: What is your official title when working with Millennium?

MS: Mark Snow - composer of the underscore music for the TV series Millennium.

MC: You had already been working with Chris Carter and 1013 for some time on The X-Files... what was your first reaction and initial thoughts when Millennium was first proposed to you as a new series and began undergoing development?

MS: Chris Carter wanted a feeling of hope and horror for the Millennium theme and underscore music. So, I thought a melancholy, celtic feel would be right since so many of the first shows had an early or medievil religious themes... and for the theme, the contrast of the solo violin (Hope) over the dark sustains and percussion (horror) of the accompianment.

MC: Was there any specific inspiration for the "Millennium" theme song? How was it recorded?

MS: Chris Carter sent over a CD of Kiley Minogue (Celtic fiddle stuff), so that was my initial inspiration. I had a live violinist play over my electronic track.

MC: What sets the overall tone or musical feel for the series when you're writing a piece of music for Millennium?

MS: The slow, deliberate brooding Frank Black seems to set the tone of the action and therefore the music tone.

DIVIDED ATTENTION

MC: How, if at all, do you try to seperate your work on Millennium and The X-Files?

MS: The Millennium music is simpler and more folk, celtic, modal ancient sounding music than X-Files. X-Files in general is more modern avante garde sounding, with symphonic traditional overtones.

MC: What other shows or movies have you worked on recently?

MS: The X-Files movie and Disturbing Behavior directed by David Nutter, who directed the pilot of Millennium.

MC: Is it difficult to work on two or more television series at a time? Do you find that it limits or stifles your creativity?

MS: No, the shows are so different, and basically very well done (some of best on TV), that they're usually very inspiring and different from week to week. They also seem to be shows that count on the music for its complete effect, unlike a show like L.A. Law which relies on dialogue mostly. Working on both shows does not limit my creativity but actually inspires it.

MC: Who are your favorite musical groups or artists to listen to?

MS: Eagle Eyed Cherry, Metallica, Foo Fighters, Suzanne Vega, Natalie Merchant, Crash Test Dummies, Chumbawumba, Tracy Bonham, to name a few.

MILLENNIAL EVOLUTION

MC: I know that one of the pieces of show music you've composed which will always stand out in my mind is the exciting and very different chase music from the climax of The Thin White Line. Do you have a personal favorite piece of music from an episode of Millennium?

MS: The show "Luminary" was a favorite of mine for the music, and more recently "Closure"; the montage cue with Emma at the computer cutting back and forth with Frank at the computer, and the black and white flash backs of Emma as a young girl!

MC: Did you enjoy writing the lighter, more humorous scores for the Darin Morgan comedy episodes of the second season?

MS: Yes! That was a fun change of pace for me, and very enjoyable! Sort of going on a mini-vacation!

MC: With season three we not only got new opening credits sequence images but also a slightly tweaked version of the Millennium theme song. Why was the decision made to alter the theme music for the third season, and how exactly was it changed?

MS: I just added a choral countermelody that was to announce the arrival of the Emma character. Chris Carter's idea, but very subtle. I don't know if all listeners hear the differance, but obviously you do! Bravo!

MC: Popular music, in addition to the underscore, has become very important to Millennium. We've heard such artists as Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Patti Smith, America, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, the Talking Heads, and Zager & Evans highlight some of the most important scenes of the series. What is your view concerning Millennium's artistic and dramatic use of music?

MS: I think it's very cool and helps maintain the edgy, fresh hip tone that the creators hoped for. And the fact the these source pieces are so eclectic is a cool thing!

MC: On The X-Files movie you were given the chance to utilize a full orchestra for your soundtrack. How did it feel to use the orchestra, and do you think you'll be given the same opportunity again anytime for Millennium or X-Files series work?

MS: The big orchestra was a thrill, but absolutely impossible to do on a weekly basis because of the time constraints. Watch for it on next X-Files feature film!!!

MC: Any personal views on Frank's musical obsession with classic swinger Bobby Darin?

MS: I think that comes from Glen Morgan, he's the big Darin fan. It also seems consistent with Frank's generation.

FLASHES OF THE FUTURE

MC: A lot of rumors and strong anticipation follow the idea of a Millennium soundtrack CD similar to The X-Files album "The Truth and the Light". Can you shed some light on the situation concerning a potential Millennium soundtrack CD?

MS: Two labels are interested in releasing Millennium music. Electra, which did the X-Files score and pop albums, and Sonic Images, a label that specializes in soundtracks. Stay tuned for updates. That's all the information that I have now.

MC: In regards to the future of Millennium in season three... any special musical pieces you've recently composed for upcoming episodes we should be listening for?

MS: Yes... in "Omerta", the Millennium Xmas show, I really push the envelope by incorporating elements of Opera and classical Choral elements, soloists and groups. I'm very proud of the work I've done on this episode, and hope you all enjoy it!

MC: Thank you very much, Mr. Snow, for taking part in this interview and being willing to speak with the Comet. Both myself and all of our fan readers extend our gratitude for being able to look into your world.

MS: Thank you, Brian, and I apologize for taking so long to get this to you!!! I hope you find it interesting and informative!

Source: Brian A. Dixon, The Millennial Comet Vol. 2, No. 5 [members.aol.com/Rings13/Abyss.html], Dec. 18th, 1998

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