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Stories Through Music: Breakaway Daily Interview with “Harmony of Kestra” Soundtrack Composer Zaalen Tallis

Stories Through Music: Breakaway Daily Interview with “Harmony of Kestra” Soundtrack Composer Zaalen Tallis

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Self taught composer Zaalen Tallis was born into a very creative and musical family from Perth, Western Australia and has been composing music since he was the age of twelve. He played the trombone and studied classical and jazz music for a very brief time in his early teen years however he left studying music to just focus on creating music. Since then he has composed music for projects in Australia, America and China and has been nominated four times for Best Original Music Award at the West Australian Screen Awards and in 2004 he received the Western Australian Swan District Education Award for Excellence In Music.  

Over the past few years composer Zaalen Tallis has been focused on creating concept scores for original stories created by himself and his friend and creative/production partner Tom Hoover. So far they have released four original soundtrack albums – Pantheon, The Desert Myth, Centurions of the Moon, and Harmony of Kestra. Kestra is a world unlike any other. Music is woven into the fabric of everyday life; used to heal the sick, power technology, and to celebrate life itself. Yet there are forces at play that seek to destroy this harmony and end Kestra’s music for all time. 

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BREAKAWAY DAILY: Can you tell us about the concept of a “story score?”

ZAALEN: It’s really all about telling a story through music. I’ve always had the dream and ambition of making big action/adventure films and composing music for them, however I may neverget the opportunity to do that, but why should that prevent me from writingsuch music and creating such stories? Why do people think that film music canonly exist because of film? Why should film, television and video games be theonly mediums and reasons why such music exists? These are questions I askedmyself a very long time ago when I was just writing music for myself and myanswer came pretty quickly… There is no reason why this kind of storytelling
through music shouldn’t exist in its own right and be enjoyed. I’m trying to
show people that this kind of music can exist without these visual mediums.

I believe there can never
be enough music and storytelling in the world for people to engage with. These
story scores being created are an opportunity for me to express myself, and
share my life’s passion for creating exciting journeys of discovery and wonder
with the world. I hope they have and will continue to inspire the emotions and
imaginations of those who listen to them.

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BREAKAWAY DAILY:

What can listeners expect from “Harmony of Kiestra”?

ZAALEN:

They can expect to be
taken on a fantastical and deeply moving journey that will excite so many
different emotions inside them. I wanted the music to inspire listeners to
soulfully explore their inner thoughts, memories and feelings about their
lives. To look back on their past, think about the present and explore their
future, but also take them on an exhilarating journey full of adventure and
wonder.

BREAKAWAY DAILY:

Usually a score is an accompaniment
to the film, and what you have done created a score that is an accompaniment to
your story. It is such a revolutionary thing. People visualize all the
time and imagine as they read stories, but not very often do they have
a soundtrack. What is the writing process and recording process like when you
are creating this?

 ZAALEN:

I’m always creating music ideas,
stories and characters in my head round the clock, and that’s essentially how
these “stories through music” are born. My great friend and incredibly
imaginative and talented story creator/writer and partner on these projects Tom
Hoover usually sends me an idea for a story he has or I send him one, we talk
about it and if we like it and it inspires us, the story and it’s musical
journey begin. Nailing the main music theme and tone is always the first step I
take and once I’ve found it, I then expand on it and as the music grows, so
does the story. As far as the recording process, I do it all myself, from
performance, orchestration, mixing and mastering. However the stunning vocals
performed on “Harmony of Kestra” are by the incredibly talented Aeralie
Brighton. She’s amazing!

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BREAKAWAY DAILY:

Do you relish the creative freedom
you have to write compositions based on free-flowing stories as compared to
some of the rigid restrictions in place in other mediums? 

ZAALEN:

Absolutely.

BREAKAWAY DAILY:

Why did you decide you wanted to go
the route of a story score, a very unique concept album, rather than just a
regular album? 

ZAALEN:

For precisely that reason you just
mentioned, unique. Having a unique story and artwork behind the original music,
especially this kind of music gives the album a much stronger identity and
purpose and provides just that bit more substance to the material for a
listener to invest in and experience. When all the creative layers are put
together there’s more than just a music CD, there’s a highly engaging
experience that showcases the endless excitement, passion and effort that has
gone into creating it. Tom, myself, and the creative teams involved in creating
these story score albums strive to make each one as unique and exciting as
possible.  

BREAKAWAY DAILY:

What influenced “Harmony of Kestra?” Can you tell me about what how the story was born and how the artwork was
created? 

ZAALEN:

Music and its pure energy and life it
brings to us, was essentially the driving influence behind Harmony of Kestra.
Tom Hoover had written a fantastic short story about a world that could only
exist through music. He sent it to me, I read it and was immediately inspired
by the concept and we got stuck into building the epic world that became to be
Harmony of Kestra. The wonderful artwork is by Wolfie Stickel, an extremely
gifted artist. Her artwork grows and evolves as the music and story grow and
because she’s on the same wave length as Tom and I, the imagery she creates
doesn’t need too much tinkering. It’s a very exciting and inspiring team to be
creating with.

Are you a fan of fantasy and/or
graphic novels? 

ZAALEN:

I’m always too busy creating my own
worlds and working on projects to get enough free time to get deeply involved
in them, however I love to look at the artist’s artwork. A lot of the artwork
is really amazing and inspiring! It would be great to write scores for fantasy
and graphic novels though. Imagine buying an epic fantasy/graphic novel and it
has a soundtrack with it? It would be fantastic!

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BREAKAWAY DAILY:

This is your fourth
original story-based soundtrack and you are also developing scores
for films and novels. What else are you working on next? 

ZAALEN:

Most recently I finished the score for a short film called
“No More Tomorrows” by Director Christopher Carson Emmons and am currently
working on a few projects. I’m writing the original score for a film by
Director Steve Kezic called “Beneath” and am in the middle of composing the
score for a children’s fantasy novel. I’m also really excited about my next
story-through-music score with Tom Hoover that he is writing at the moment and
that I will be getting the music underway for very shortly.

The score is now available through iTunes stores worldwide. To hear music from the score and learn more about the album and the story behind it visit www.sagaflight.com/kestra  

Interview by Jamey Beth, BreakawayDaily.com

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