Enduring artist pens music for ‘Brother Bear’

LAUSANNE – Having already received an Oscar for the soundtrack of the 1999 animated film «Tarzan,» Phil Collins recently collaborated once again with Disney Pictures on the music for the cartoon movie «Brother Bear.» At the age of 53, Collins is one of the most enduring and successful names in the music industry, though in the past few years he has opted to remain outside the limelight. A famous drummer, the lead man in the band Genesis after Peter Gabriel, a pop star with a prolific solo career, and, to top it off, an actor in several films (acting was his first career choice early on), Collins admits to enjoying writing music for the cinema. Kathimerini met up with him in Lausanne, a few kilometers away from his Geneva home, where he lives with his third wife and the youngest of his five children. What is the difference between writing music for a film and writing music for yourself? The difference is that music for a film has to be liked by many people: directors, producers, screenwriters. And sometimes, they say they don’t like it. When I was writing the music for «Tarzan,» I was told that this kind of work could be a complete nightmare. I used to sit over the fax machine, waiting to see what changes I would have to make. I was quite fortunate, actually, because very little needed to be changed. I have been told that something was good, though it could have been better. I just said «OK,» even though I would really have liked to argue with them. But, I am working as part of a team, so we all have to work toward the best result. You are currently adapting «Tarzan» for a stage musical. How is that going? Very well. The show contains some of the songs from the movie as well as seven or eight new ones. It will be going on stage next year. The problem is what exactly will happen with the role of Tarzan. He will have to be handsome and athletic, and have to have the voice to give daily performances. I can’t do it. We might not have him singing after all. Tina Turner participates in one of your «Brother Bear» songs. How did that collaboration come about? The idea belongs to the Disney executives who thought that maybe I shouldn’t sing, though I insisted on singing all the songs. They thought that we shouldn’t repeat «Tarzan.» We tried out a number of singers who weren’t right for the part and Tina was the next obvious choice. You have already acted in several movies. Are you thinking of continuing to do so? Not in the near future, though I would like to at some point. The reason that I am out of things a bit is that I live in Geneva and I don’t like leaving home. I wouldn’t say that I’m retired, but if I want to be involved in films, I have to live in Los Angeles, a city I hate. My main priority is my family. I work all the time, I record, but I no longer want to be away; I don’t want to go on tour. From time to time, I might do a concert, but don’t think I’ve changed my mind if you ever see me on stage. Have you ever thought of writing an autobiography as so many other artists have? At some point, when it is all over, I will. Several books have already been written about me, and many have been totally wrong, so I’ve had to demand rewrites. I will write my own book and it will be my own truth. Anyway, a lot of ink is already being wasted on music stars. If you have something to say, the least you can do is wait until the end of your career. Penchant for children’s films From Collins’s 1984 hit theme love song for the film «Against All Odds» to his moving song score for Disney’s «Tarzan,» he has shown that his musical talent is well suited to film. Though he did not score an Academy award at his first attempt, the track «Take a Look at Me Now,» is an enduring ballad. As a vocalist, Collins dueted with Marilyn Martin in the Stephen Bishop-penned 1985 hit «Separate Lives» from the film «White Nights» (starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines), while in 1988, the film «Buster» (in which Collins himself stars) featured two hit songs from the artist, «Two Hearts» and a cover of «Groovy Kind of Love,» first released in the 1960s. According to rumors, Collins was apprehensive about taking on the song score of «Tarzan,» but after countless drafts and rewrites, the song «You’ll Be in My Heart» won him both an Oscar and a Golden Globe award. In 2001, Collins participated in the multicolored score of Buzz Luhrmann’s double Oscar-winning «Moulin Rouge» with the song «One More Night.» In 2003, he went back to working with Disney for «Brother Bear,» writing five songs, one of which, «Great Spirits,» he sings with Tina Turner. The soundtrack has been nominated for the Annie and Golden Satellite awards. Collins features in several animated pictures, doing voices in «Jungle Book 2» and «Balto,» and has also starred in the children’s film «Hook,» alongside Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts and Bob Hoskins.