Archangel, Illusion and Invincible; these are albums born from the minds of Nick Phoenix and Thomas Bergersen. We recently spoke with Bergeson about his career in music, how he started and what the future holds...
Starburst: In the spirit of the magazine what are your favourite pieces of Sci-Fi, Horror and Fantasy?
Thomas Bergersen: I'm a big nostalgic. I have memories of watching Amityville, A New Generation, the one with the mirror, with a friend when I was 13-14. We were home alone, it was dark outside and we were scared out of our minds. At one point I got up to go to the bathroom and in the hallway hung a mirror pretty much identical to the one in the movie. It freaked me out so much I couldn't watch horror movies for years after! I have a wide taste in movies though. In the Sci-Fi, Horror and Fantasy genres I like Arachnophobia, Fright Night - the original - Child's Play, Lost in Space - the old TV-series - Dracula, The Thing, E.T, The Abyss, you know... the classics from the ‘70s through the ‘90s.
When did you realise you could write/make music?
I was always creative and never did things I was asked to do. I was pretty impossible as a kid, and now I'm probably even worse. I liked drums at a young age and would frequently set up drum kits using pots and pans from the kitchen, to my mom's great delight... My dad had a tape recorder, so I started recording myself playing the kitchen drums, I must have been like 5. It was an awful barrage of noise, but I enjoyed it. I quickly discovered the piano thereafter, and found it infinitely more satisfying to make up my own melodies than play other people's music, so naturally I had a falling out with my piano teacher after a fairly short run of piano lessons. From that point on I just went with the flow.
How much of a challenge did you find it when you started?
I don't think I ever found it particularly challenging, perhaps blissfully unaware of how bad it sounded in the beginning. I found it frustrating some times because I couldn't express the music I heard in my head due to lack of knowledge, tools and whatnot, but the music part has always come natural to me.
Were you taught in school or was it something you pursued in your own time?
I spent a lot of time in high school studying orchestration books, and I don't mean in music class. I didn't really care about anything but music, and being the rebel that I was I would frequently break out Walter Piston or Samuel Adler during math class, history or what have you. And my teachers would complain and call my parents in for extraordinary meetings to discuss how impossible I was and how they could change me. I got an F in music. My focus was not on learning Tom Dooley on guitar or playing twinkle twinkle on xylophone. I was into far more advanced things than that, but naturally my teachers never knew, and I liked it like that. I knew what I wanted to be. I think it probably cost my parents a lot of grief and frustration at the time but I have been blessed with understanding parents who never wanted to shape me in any way. They believed in letting kids discover and explore their creativity and not hold them down or limit their natural development to the confines of rigid school systems and social norms. I'm eternally grateful for that.
Was it always a collaborative process or did you learn your craft on your own?
I am 100% self-taught. Although I did attend music universities, I spent most of my time there pursuing girls.
When did you meet Nick Phoenix and how long did it take for Two Steps from Hell to happen?
Nick and I knew each other from an online forum where we had gotten into a little fight about the quality of some virtual instruments. We later met in Los Angeles and quickly realized we had more in common than we thought at first. Two Steps was founded many years after, and truthfully we didn't have big expectations, we just wanted to do things a little differently and bring a little more soul into trailer music.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
From my emotions. Most of the time the mental state I'm in when I write music is directly reflected in the music itself. It comes from everything in life that has an emotional impact on me, be it a good movie, romance, change of seasons, rain, snow, fights, make-ups, break-ups, joy, sadness… it all inspires in one way or another.
What is the creative difference between an album by TSFH and an album that is just composed by you? Invincible and Illusions both have a distinct sound.
Illusions represents (largely) the core of my personal musical sensibility and preference. It is more developed, somewhat more focused and not written with trailers in mind. The creative process is similar to that of my work for TSFH, but while I'd typically spend a few days writing a TSFH track, I will more often than not spend weeks on something that holds more personal and emotional value to me.
What can your fans expect from you and TSFH in 2013?
In 2013 I will hopefully release Sun, the sequel to Illusions. TSFH will probably release another public album and a few non-public ones for the trailer industry. It depends on how inspired I am!
You have recently had your music in video games including Mass Effect. Are you a gamer?
I am, although I don't really have much time these days. Back in the days when I was a teenager I would build my own computers. I would design maps for Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, Doom etc. It's safe to say I was a nerd. Nowadays I'm more of an occasional gamer. The last game I played was Hitman Absolution.
And finally if you could be in a band, what band would it be and why?
If I had the voice and a time travel device I would say Rat Pack in their golden days. Other than that, Rage Against the Machine or Nirvana maybe.
Thanks for your time Thomas.
You can find Bergersen's music on his official YouTube channel and on iTunes. Enjoy!