A Q&A with French Composer known for Disney+'s series "Secrets of The Whales" Raphaelle Thibaut

  1. Congratulations on one of your most recent releases: Secrets of the Whales, a collaboration between Disney+ and National Geographic, produced by James Cameron and narrated by Sigourney Weaver! I’ve read that it took three years to film it. At what stage did you get involved? Can you tell us a bit about your collaborative process with the two directors? 

    I was involved right after they were done filming and I started writing in March last year. I continued throughout the pandemic and felt incredibly lucky to do so. I worked closely with the production team at Red Rock Films and indeed more specifically with directors Brian Armstrong and Andy Mitchell. My experience working with them was fantastic. Very empowering. I was able to come up with my own ideas and this allowed me to let go and get my creative juices flowing. It was great to be able to play around with electronic sounds along with orchestral arrangements. This led us to a “versatile” hybrid score and I think we were all happy with the result!

  2. You also have another recent documentary that is completely different: Introducing, Selma Blair. What were your creative choices when telling such an intimate and vulnerable story? 

    This film is incredibly raw and intimate. I’ve never seen such a deep portrait of a celebrity. It was not easy to write music for someone who’s given so much to the audience. I wanted to respect her space so I tried to leave as much room as possible for her intimacy, whilst supporting her story with the emotion it deserves. There’s also so much light and playfulness in her that radiates. I had to find the right balance and stay true to that, too. I worked very closely with my amazing friend and director Rachel Fleit, and it was definitely one of those life encounters that you know you’ll never forget.

  3. You worked on some amazing trailers! What are your go-to sample libraries and plug-ins when working on epic tracks?

    Tricky question! There are so many of them and I’m trying to diversify my options for each project to avoid similarities. My go-to include most of the Spitfire, Orchestra Tools, Metropolis (NI) and Cinesamples series for orchestra. Damage, Keep Forest and Forzo for the badass lines, and a lot of Heavyocity, Zebra and Slate + Ash for the rest.

  4. What are your favorite musical influences from the French culture? Do you ever incorporate that in your sound?

    My core film music influences come from the French and Italian cinema of the 60’s and 70’s. Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, Giorgio Moroder, François de Roubaix and George Delerue were constantly playing on my childhood disc player. I also have this fascination for the sound of the French psychedelic wave in alternative cinema. It blossomed through many different genres from romance, horror, and erotica. I am still listening to those scores on a daily basis, so I probably incorporate them in my work at least unconsciously!

  5. In 2015, you decided to leave your marketing job at Google and follow your heart to pursue a career in music. It is so inspiring to see how much you have achieved in just 5-6 years. What advice would you give to other women who are considering a similar career switch? 

    In 2015, I was invited to a Google corporate event in Abbey Road Studios in London. The engineers took me through the process of recording for a movie in Studio 2’s mixing room, and had me listen to samples of Steven Price’s score to “Fury”. Although I had only a slight idea of how these cables, monitors and consoles all fit together, this beautiful mess was the only thing that made complete sense to me. Two weeks after, I quit my job to become a full-time composer and never regretted it! I think that because I didn’t take a traditional route, I felt the need to try twice as hard to prove myself. Now I see this shift as a strength, not an obstacle. No matter what stage you are in your life, no matter how old you are, I think it’s always a good time to pursue a dream. What makes you different makes you stand out, not the opposite. So trust yourself and work hard for those dreams.

    Interview by Esin Aydingoz

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