All of us horror fans know that one of the most important parts of a horror movie is the score. Can you imagine watching 'Halloween' without John Carpenter's amazing theme? Do you think anyone would jump half as much in cinemas if we didn't have the likes of John Ottman, Don Davis and Christopher Young working in the genre today? I had the pleasure of chatting to Danny Draven's "other half" about her involvement in the scores of some recent horror movies, as well as her work on the upcoming David DeCoteau directed 'Ring of Drakness' and 'Witches of the Caribbean'. Read on to see how Jojo Draven plans to make us jump with her latest works.
When did you first get into music?
I've always been surrounded by music since I was very little. When I was growing up, my parents always had the tape player going and they loved to sing along, I think that gave me an idea to join the church choir for a few years. Then I started taking classical piano lessons at 11 until it all fell apart at around the age of 17 when I wanted to play guitar.
What do you play?
Electric guitar is my main instrument, though I play in a side project band as a bassist and sometimes sing. The piano training comes in handy for the scoring gigs.
How often do you practice?
On my own I play everyday for about one to two hours, sometimes not at all, but occasionally I would have to learn a bunch of materials fast, in which case I can spend 8-12 hours a day practicing.
When did you decide to concentrate on a musical career, and has it been hard work to get where you are in your career?
At seventeen when I took up the guitar, there was no turning back for me. Music is my life. I knew then that I would always work on music.
Jojo: "Music is my life".
Can you tell us about your bands Phantom Blue and The Iron Maidens?
Phantom Blue was an all female rock band that was signed to Shrapnel and Geffen in the early 90s, in fact, one of my favorite bands at the time. I was asked to join after an audition to replace one of their guitarists. I toured Europe and the U.S. with them and wrote several songs, and I played on a couple of their CD. The band went through a lot of member changes and finally broke up in 1999 when a couple of members walked away. During the hiatus I wrote a lot on my own, until the drummer and I got offered to play in an all-female tribute to Iron Maiden while we were trying to revive Phantom Blue. I've been touring with The Maidens for three years now. Check out www.theironmaidens.com
You married film maker Danny Draven in Paris Las Vegas in July of 2002, Did the two of you meet through music?
I was working for a film company in Hollywood, i.e. Full Moon, as a post production coordinator when I met him. He was shooting "HorrorVision" at the time and he asked me if I wanted to be an extra for his movie as a dead body in a desert... isn't that romantic? But seriously, we were both working for Full Moon when we met.
Do you find that because you are both creative and very hard working, that your marriage has a level of understanding that other couples may not have? For example, you both must spend a lot of time away from home working on projects, is it hard not seeing each other for long periods of time?
I think it's because we find that we both are very similar to one another in many ways, we rarely differ in taste as far as music, movies and food. We both love dogs. We both know to give each other space to work and to be creative, and we understand what it takes to be in the entertainment industry. Often times when I am gone on a tour with the band, Danny would be out of town somewhere shooting his movie, and yes it's hard to be away from each other for a long period of time, but we always try to see each other when time permits and call each other everyday.
You are now both working on a lot of the same projects, is this an effort to combat the problem highlighted above, and how did you get the gig as composer on Cryptz and Hell Asylum which were both out in 2002. Did Danny hire you?
JR Bookwalter was the one that gave me the opportunity to do my first film score effort, and it happened to be Danny's film that JR produced, which is Hell Asylum. It was a great experience to work on that movie, although it turned out to be my least favorite score I've done so far. On Cryptz, Danny asked me to be one of the producers as well as the composer, and I took the opportunity since my band schedule allowed me to do it.
These projects were the first time that you had ever composed a film score, how do you go about creating the score?
It's been a constant learning experience from the start. Most often than not, we have budget and time constraint so we don't have months of creating the music to be recorded in a professional studio by a full orchestra. I usually create a theme and elaborate it using protools in my home studio and do it all on my own, and play all the instruments.
Are you often instructed what to do or are you left to be as creative as you like?
All the directors I've been working with gave me almost full freedom to be creative with occasional specific instructions for specific scenes.
You also did the score for Darkwalker, what was your inspiration for the sound?
What can you tell us about the soon to be released Ring of Darkness, there has to be a lot of music in that film as it concerns a boy band?
The producers and director wanted the music to be more techno with edge of rock. I personally have a thing for techno rock, it's my favorite kind of score. I am a big fan of the Marco Beltrami/Marilyn Manson collaboration in "Resident Evil", so you'll probably hear the influence in this one.
You are currently scoring Witches of the Caribbean, how is that going?
Moving along nicely. I am in the final stages. This movie calls for a different style, a lot of tribal drums. The timing is perfect, as I've been getting into a lot of Kodo and Blue Man stuff lately.
Danny and Jojo happily tie the knot.
Can you tell us anything about the film?
It's about Witches... go figure. I don't want to spoil the movie... you'll have to watch it when it comes out! Dave DeCoteau directed this film and it's produced by Regent Entertainment.
Are you a fan of the horror genre?
Yes. I used to be a chicken when it comes to horror films. I still am, but I enjoy the torture of being scared now...
Do you have a favourite horror score?
The Shining. How can one beat be so effective? It scares the crap out of me every time.
And your favourite composer?
This week, Danny Elfman
What do you listen to?
Rock, including Filter, Tool, Ministry, various movie soundtracks, some jazz.
Does the music you listen to influence your work?
What will you be working on next?
A yet untitled feature. Another horror film. There seems to be a pattern...
"Thanks for taking part in this interview Jojo.
We wish you the best of luck in the future."
You can visit the Jojo's official web page right here: www.jojodraven.com