Since Kris Dirksen and his U.S.-based writing partner Dane Short teamed up in 2008, the duo – collectively known as Methodic Doubt – have composed music for a huge variety of sci-fi, action and superhero film trailers. Growing up, however, Dirksen was more likely to mess around with a four-track tape recorder than pore over the latest adventures of any costumed superhero. “I played guitar and piano and made tapes for myself,” he says, “but being a composer seemed far out of reach growing up in the Vancouver suburbs.”
Instead, Dirksen went on to study law at UBC, but soon landed a licensing gig at Battleaxe Music. While there, when opportunities to compose and produce music for advertising came up that other artists weren’t interested in, Dirksen took them on himself. He learnt the trade by staying up late into the night writing – virtually every night – for two years.
“You just trust have to trust your musical judgment as an artist, take everyone’s opinions into consideration, and hope they like it.” – Kris Dirksen
Although trailers for film, television and video games remain a large part of Methodic Doubt’s business, they’ve recently branched out, scoring full soundtracks for the HBO hit Banshee, and now their first feature film Necessary Evil: The Villains of DC Comics, a documentary for Warner Bros. and DC Comics.
Their process is highly collaborative. “For trailers, Dane or I will start something and [we’ll] send it back and forth,” Dirksen says. “Sometimes a trailer house will take something and just cut it in. Sometimes we’ll write a song from scratch.” A major contributor to their success, he adds, is a willingness to push musical boundaries, an ethic informed by influences including trip-hop, heavy guitar-based music, and contemporary composers such as Clint Mansell, John Murphy and Tyler Bates. “With trailers, there are few limitations,” says Dirksen. “They want them to sound as big as possible. For Banshee there’s more subtlety involved, more interplay with the dialogue to serve the scene and the vision of the director.”
For Banshee they’re called upon to compose up to 45 minutes of music per episode each week, which requires Dirksen to travel to L.A. more often than trailer work does. It’s hectic, but so is composing for advertisements – a process that often finds the duo responding to contradictory opinions and decidedly non-musical descriptions.
“There’s a lot of interpretation,” says Dirksen, “but you just trust have to trust your musical judgment as an artist, take everyone’s opinions into consideration, and hope they like it.”
• Methodic Doubt’s music has been featured in advertising campaigns for Nike, Vans, Red Bull and Mastercraft.
• Their compositions have been featured in films such as The Taking of Pelham 123, Happily N’ever After, and TV shows including Road Rules and Burn Notice
• The duo were tapped for the Banshee soundtrack by Executive Producer Greg Yaitanes (Lost, House)