To promote the 25th anniversary music box, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman reminisced over the making of the now iconic Batman score. Click here to view the video.
Also, Danny Elfman recently gave an interview for ArtBeat of the New York Times, discussing the celebratory collector's gift:
Q: How long does it take to put something like this together and how long ago did you get started?
A: It was some months ago. My agent and my assistant spent a month sifting through a million hours of demos, work tapes, cassette tapes. I unfortunately have been almost bizarrely committed to not archiving anything. I kept nothing. And when we started getting into it, I realized I didn’t even have half of my soundtrack albums. So we started chasing down albums on eBay, literally.
Q: Why weren’t you saving any of this?
A: It’s like for some weird reason, once I finish a project, it doesn’t exist to me anymore. They literally had to go through storage rooms, sifting through cardboard boxes filled with junk, until they came up with anything that looked like tapes, DATs, CDs, reel-to-reel stuff. What amounted to zero effort of saving anything for a quarter-century. Now I’m becoming the other way around. Now I really want to get ahold of stuff, I want to organize it. I want to have shelves.
Q: So if you weren’t hanging on to these materials, where were you finding them?
A: My old work tapes just got dumped into boxes and put in the back room. I had six, seven storage rooms throughout the city. Places I haven’t gone into in decades. My agent used his tentacles in the underground film music world to try to find versions of things that didn’t exist anywhere. It was happening above and below the surface. Lots of detective work.
Q: How far back were you searching? Like, Oingo Boingo, “Bachelor Party”?
A: They were finding everything, but they were only bringing to me the stuff that was connected with Burton. Now that my brain is into that mode, I’m going to have them continue. Because now I’ve got a good, new storage space, and when you get a new space you get motivated. It really is a better idea just to know where stuff is.
Q: And what kinds of things were you finding?
A: It’s a mixed bag of work tapes, demos, and in those demos, ideas that didn’t make it into movies. There’s a whole stretch of a “Batman” work tape, of “Batman” music that never made it into the movie. On the one hand, that was cool for me to listen to. I’d forgotten I had all these ideas that never survived. On the other hand, I was horrified that 20 years ago, demos sounded really bad. I’m in the middle of writing this huge disclaimer, trying to explain what a work tape is, and the difference of what I was working with 20 years ago. Between “Beetlejuice” and “Alice in Wonderland,” you can hear, oh, O.K., big difference.
Q: When Tim first started working with you, were you looking for a way that you could make the transition to scoring films?
A: I wasn’t thinking that at all. It was totally out of the blue. Tim and Paul [Reubens] came to me together. I was shocked. It wasn’t like I was looking for an opportunity for film scoring. I hadn’t even really fathomed the possibility — that didn’t seem possible. “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” my first time ever writing for orchestra, was a very simple score. And I really did think I was totally destroying his film with a score that was so out of left field.
Q: Why do you think you and Tim have remained close collaborators all these years?
A: We literally did grow into our abilities together. Our aesthetic is similar.
Q: Do you share his appreciation for the odd and the gothic?
A: Not necessarily, so much as, for whatever reason, his world was an easy place to fall into. It was a place I was comfortable in. We grew up very similar, alienated kids, feeling like a stranger in a strange land. You find yourself gravitating toward fantasy and horror. We both grew up on horror films in the same period, relatively. I grew up around the block from a movie theater, and I spent every weekend of my life there that I can remember. Every weekend was a new double bill, and to be able to see, every single weekend, two new films was really cool. He saw more of them on television, but all the same movies: Hammer films, Roger Corman films. It was a very fertile era to be into the movies.
Q: Given those circumstances, I can see why you were so compatible.
A: He was in Burbank, I was in Baldwin Hills. They were different suburbs of Los Angeles, but our origins weren’t that far apart. So when we met, I said to him, “Why do you want to hire me?” He goes: “I don’t know. I’ve seen your band, I think you could do other stuff.” The ability to succeed as a composer, you have to be able to relax, take no shape and fall into a new place and re-form yourself. That’s the best way I can describe it.That’s part of what allows a composer to thrive. I was falling into a lot of different spaces, but every time I fell into Tim’s space, I found it was a particularly fun and comfortable space to be.