Film trailer composing duo John Samuel Hanson and Kyle Biane met at Immediate Music, a production music company that focuses on high-caliber trailer music. Both soon realized that their respective skills wedged together like two perfectly cut jigsaw pieces and in 2012 they formed their team Confidential Music. They now compose and deliver trailer music for a range of projects. Highlights on the team’s resume include Stranger Things, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Suicide Squad. On Feb. 14 this year the partners released Light Cycle, the team’s first full-length record, under the name ConfidentialMX.
The team’s process begins in a variety of ways. One of which is when a client describes a movie in basic terms. Interestingly, though, the pair doesn’t often see the actual trailer or images from the film in question. The story is simply summarized and then Hanson and Biane allow their creativity to guide the flow. As longtime composers, both have also learned that variety and selection is crucial to their business. “We have a [music] library that clients can choose from as a starting point, but we also make changes to a piece if they want them,” Hanson observes. “We go by what a client says and what they ask for. They cut their trailer around the music, which is kind of the opposite of how a score works where the music is made for the picture.”
“The bridge between advertising and art or cinema comes into play there,” Biane adds. “In a movie, [the music] propels whatever the scene is. You have them stacked in these peaks and valleys. In a trailer, you have two minutes and twenty seconds to hit it on the head, so pacing becomes vital. Having a couple of solid pieces of music gives [trailer producers] that railroad track to work in, which makes it unique and fun as an art form; the music gets equal priority.”
Five times a year Confidential Music drops a new seven-track addition to its library. To the team, each one feels akin to a record release since that’s virtually the level of work involved. “Basically, we put out a mini record five times a year,” Biane explains. “Then [clients] have that repertoire to feed on. About half of our work comes either directly from our library or from personalized changes to something on it. Clients want to make it special for their campaign so we’ll do customizations to hone in on the movie that’s being advertised.”
As an aside, Hanson wrote the Light Cycle track “View From The Voyager” just as the Voyager 1 spacecraft passed into interstellar space in 2012. Later it was heard by a well-placed person and was paired with the trailer for the 2014 film Interstellar. Neither of them even had to pitch it.
Light Cycle is now also available on vinyl. In March, the team worked on trailers for the Disney film Onward, but true to their name, virtually all of their upcoming projects are, indeed, confidential. Perhaps that’s part of the reason they remain a highly sought trailer composition team.