Jermaine Stegall Talks Composing for Rogue River, The Psycho Legacy, and More
A few weeks back this writer had the opportunity to chat with up-and-coming composer Jermaine Stegall while he was at the LA Screamfest Horror Film Festival supporting the two features he had scored that were selected entries: Rogue River and The Psycho Legacy.
After quickly realizing that a few moments on the red carpet wasn’t enough time to learn about this new rising genre talent, Dread Central recently caught up with Stegall again to talk about his work on scoring both The Psycho Legacy and Rogue River, what inspired him to become a composer, and how it felt to be working on a documentary about a film series that featured one of the most memorable scores not in only the horror genre but in the entire history of cinema as well.
Dread Central: Can you talk about how you got interested in scoring movies and how you started off in the industry?
Jermaine Stegall: Getting interested is probably all due to getting the opportunity to see a movie in theatres at least once to twice a week for about 10-15 years while growing up with family members (mainly my dad). Many of my family members also had extensive movie libraries on VHS, some of which included elaborately printed and organized lists of hundreds of movies. I later made my own but always noticed the music and specifically noticed themes to a lot of films I would grow to know as being classics, and during my 1980’s childhood, John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith were very prolific with memorable scores.
I decided after obtaining a degree in music and then a graduate degree in music composition that I would attend the USC Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program in the fall of 2003. After this time I had the great fortune of becoming an intern for composer Marco Beltrami, which later led to opportunities to meet others who were working in the industry, become an assistant to a few television composers, and do copy-work for films and orchestras as well. During this time I continued to compose music for independent feature films and short films, commercials, and anything else I could get my hands on.
DC: A lot of people who work in entertainment usually find inspiration in others working in their fields. Was there a composer (or a few) that inspire you or you as an artist?
JS: I’ll probably always cite my favorite composers as being (in no particular order) John Williams, Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders, Jeral Gray, Michael Jackson, and Prince. These are who on a daily basis I listen to in the car almost exclusively. Some for great themes, some for the ability to create beautiful density and texture, some for arranging, but all of them for the ability to tell a story with sound.
DC: How did you get involved with making the score for The Psycho Legacy?
JS: I had sent Robert Galluzzo some demos in the style of Bernard Herrmann long before he even knew what he wanted musically for the documentary. Though it plays out like a normal interview-style documentary, it was decided that we would actually create underscore wall-to-wall for the whole thing and a series of homages and references for a lot of composers we both loved.
DC: Let’s talk about your approach to The Psycho Legacy as you’re working within the context of one of the most memorable scores in the horror genre. How do you create music that both incorporates the legendary score by Bernard Herrmann but still feels like a new musical experience for fans?
JS: My main thought was that I wanted to try not to incorporate actual pieces of Bernard Herman, as much as I wanted to evoke a nostalgic feeling of the kind of scores that you might have heard from him and the other composers involved in the Psycho films.
I was fortunate enough to be working on the main titles for The Psycho Legacy for a long time so that helped with the intro. Each of the four segments of the documentary referenced the scoring style of the film it was talking about. This gave me some parameters to create a scoring homage to the composers from each of the Psycho films since there was a different composer with all different styles. Starting with Bernard Herrmann, then an homage to Jerry Goldsmith, then on to Carter Burwell, and finally one for Graeme Revell.