John Powell Q&A: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ composer
After reaping an Oscar bid for Best Original Score for “How to Train Your Dragon” in 2010, John Powell is a strong contender to reap another for the sequel that sees the franchise move into deeper emotional territory. As he explained during our recent webcam chat, “Our main characters are growing up so the music tried to mature itself a little." This shift in tone meant, "the new tunes…needed to be more — not complex — but a little deeper, or capable of being a little deeper.”
This second film in the trilogy finds Hiccup and his dragon Toothless defending an ice castle populated with exotic dragons that’s guarded by …(Spoiler Alert)
Hiccup’s long-lost mother.
For Powell, the track ‘Lost and Found’ was instrumental to the score’s success: “I needed a tune that was going to hit every moment in the film where somebody lost somebody, somebody found somebody. Could I get one tune to cross those two ideas?” Elaborating on his use of this melody, he references a pivotal moment towards the end of the film. "In a way, I was working backward from that moment. As long as that tune worked there, I had to make sure it worked everywhere else.”
This London native worked on the score of the very first DreamWorks Animation feature, "Antz," back in 1998 and has since done the music for seven more of the studio's films, including "Shrek" and both "Kung Fu Panda" toons.
For "How to Train Your Dragon 2," Powell co-wrote two tunes — “For the Dancing and Dreaming" and “Where No One Goes” — with Icelandic rocker Jonsi Birgission of Sigur Ros. They first worked together on "Sticks and Stones" from the original film.
Back in 2010, Powell lost the Oscar to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for "The Social Network." That pair has reteamed with helmer David Fincher for "Gone Girl" and are strong contenders in this category again. However, as of late the music branch has embraced animated films, with such fare earning mulitiple nominations in both the score and song categories.