For over 30 years, Kevin Kiner has been creating music for video games, television shows, and film scores, but Star Wars fans will recognize his name for being the composer for The Clone Wars and now Star Wars Rebels. Kyle Winner (the ForceCast's Galactic Top 40) and I sat down with Kevin in an exclusive interview to discuss his Star Wars fandom, his experience at Celebration Anaheim, his inspirations and motivation, and much more!
What was your first introduction to Star Wars? Have you always been a fan or is this something more recent?
I saw the movie very early one of the first days it played and was blown away like everybody else. I went to every midnight screening for every film that I could and watched them multiple times.
I was at Skywalker Ranch a couple years ago and I got to spend time with George early on in The Clone Wars. I went in the library and saw all of these books on different types of myths and mythology. It really struck me that George has essentially created the myth of the 20th and 21st century. In other words, this is our modern mythology; it's the most well-known myth in the history of mankind.
You've said before that you prefer to work with live orchestras over using computers and technology. What are some advantages and disadvantages to these different styles?
I write the same style of music whether I'm doing it for the computer or live guys. It's just that there are things that the computer sounds good doing and there are things it doesn't sound good doing. There are different phrasings that don't sound good with computer samples so you avoid writing it. I would rather not be constrained that way; I'd rather write what I hear. John Williams set a template for Star Wars; it's extremely orchestral and classical and the computer doesn't do that very well, so you need live guys to pull that off.
Is there something about composing for The Clone Wars and Rebels that is unique to your overall process?
Early on in my career, I started writing in a similar style to John Williams, so I've been very familiar with it. Part of who I am as a composer always comes through in my work, so for this project, I try to stay true to the Star Wars template that John gave us. I'm glad I got to use more of his themes in Rebels because George really didn't want that in The Clone Wars. It really is refreshing for me though to now be able to dip into that “golden pool” of what John gave us and incorporate it into Rebels.
During your panel at Celebration, you did mention that George gave you limitations on using original music in The Clone Wars. Was this to bring a fresh feeling to the series or was it George saying that he wants it to be unique and establish itself into the saga as a whole?
George has never liked to do something that had been done before. With The Clone Wars, he wanted to set it apart from the films and bring it different instruments and different styles. He had done the movies and he wanted to do something different, and I think it turned out fun. Now Dave Filoni wants Rebels to feel like A New Hope, and since George isn't involved, it's us as fans going back to what we loved about Star Wars, so it was only natural for us to go back to John Williams' style.
CLICK HERE to listen to the rest of our exclusive interview with Kevin Kiner! For more information on Kevin and his work, visit kevinkiner.com!
Note: Some portions of the interview have been edited for simplicity. To hear the questions and answers in their complete, original form, please listen to the recording.