Starting up a favorite album or playlist while diving into the latest stack of comics is probably not that uncommon for many readers out there. Music has a pretty solid relationship with most other creative endeavors. But what if there was an actual musical album created and crafted to specifically match the specific reading experience of one comic?
That’s the question set to be answered by the new series Seven Dead Stars, where musicians and writers Unsecret and DJ Form bring the world of comics and music together. The duo has created an album that specifically fits their new science fiction series which features art by Cliff Richards (Batman, Justice League, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), colors by Michael Bartolo (Captain America, Iron Man, Star Wars), and letters and layout by Kathryn S. Renta (Wonder Woman, Call of Duty).
They graciously spent some time answering a few questions about their new series, how it incorporates their music, what their inspirations were, and more.
Scott Redmond: As they often say, let’s start at the beginning in regard to Seven Dead Stars. What is Seven Dead Stars about and where did the idea for this series come from?
Unsecret: We’re musicians, and as weird as it sounds, the idea for Seven Dead Stars was birthed from a song. DJ Form and I have been friends for a long time, and we were playing around with the idea of mashing hip-hop beats and vocal hooks with orchestral elements. We came up with a track that felt like the start of something really special, but it felt bigger than just a song. That’s when we started imagining what kind of a universe our two characters could inhabit. We grew up on a steady diet of Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, and comic books, so creating a fantastic, futuristic world just felt natural!
DJ Form: It really was a very organic process like Unsecret said. We set out to make some music that we thought would be cool, and it just kept growing. Even the story started with just a few ideas and quickly evolved into an entire universe and an ever-growing cast of characters. This debut issue really only opens up a tiny glimpse into what we have already dreamed up.
SR: In the press for this series, it’s described as “an exciting world of audio-visual consumption,” and a number of tracks for the book’s soundtrack were shared ahead of the book’s release. What does that description of this series mean to you and what excited you about trying to bridge these two worlds together?
US: With this first release, we’re barely scratching the surface of what we’d like to do with Seven Dead Stars. But one thing we wanted to showcase from day one is connecting the music and the visual story in a dynamic way. Going back to Star Wars as a reference point, can you imagine any of those movies with a different soundtrack? John Williams’ contribution was massive and informed every moment of the action. We wanted to bring our own fresh take to the “space adventure” theme, and part of that was bringing something really unexpected to the table. Yes, we used orchestration, but we added a ton of elements that you wouldn’t usually hear in this genre. That mash-up style says something about the story we want to tell: hard-hitting, but still a ton of fun!
DJ: Absolutely! We love so much about great scores from Star Wars to Marvel to Lord Of The Rings and many more, and we both have done quite a few songs for film and television. So, with my background in Hip-Hop and DJing, it made perfect sense for us to throw it all together and see how it came out. The energy, drama, and epic scope of what we have created in the music is so important to the overall feel of where we see the comic series going.
SR: Speaking of the visual side of things, what has it been like to work alongside Cliff Richards, Michael Bartolo, and Kathryn S. Renta as they help to bring this adventure and the universe you have dreamed up to vivid life?
US: Where do I start? Cliff, Michael, and Kathryn are all seasoned pros, and they brought their A-game for this one! As a reader, you get accustomed to seeing amazing visuals in comics, but it’s another thing entirely to see the step-by-step transformation that happens from the script to the final page. Cliff practically read our minds with his ability to instill the visuals with an underlying essence of nostalgia and mystery. Then watching Michael turn those amazing B&W images into color was unreal, like someone flipping on a light switch. And finally working with Kathryn on the lettering and layout was so helpful and also educational. She’s a champ for how patient she was walking us through the process!
DJ: What he said. Hahaha
SR: If you had to give a quick and succinct description of the main characters Unsecret and Form and their new blue dog ally Buster, how would you describe them?
US: I think our characters definitely have plenty of DNA taken from the “real world”, but they also have characteristics that are blown way out of proportion. I’ll let DJ Form talk about the character “Form”, but as for Unsecret, I see him as a reluctant hero who usually overthinks everything. He’s a loner by nature, which is why his partnership with Form – and now Buster – is critical to his personal growth.
DJ: : Form is definitely an extension of who I am in many ways. He doesn’t take life or himself too seriously most times, and it will get him in trouble. He loves to have a good time, but is also fiercely loyal to his friends. We don’t know much about where he came from yet, but as the greater story unfolds, so will the layers of his character. There are secrets about all three of our main characters that we can’t wait to share with everyone.
SR: Without spoilers of course, are there particular elements or realms in regard to this universe that you are most excited about bringing to the page or building up over time?
US: It’s hard not to give away spoilers, and I mean – MAJOR SPOILERS – but I’ll just say that there is way more going on in Issue #0 than meets the eye. In fact, there’s so much hidden information that we could barely fit many of the answers into the ten-issue season we’re working on right now. I think the one thing we’d want readers to know is that Seven Dead Stars is going to grow into a full universe, and we can’t wait to start sharing it!
DJ: Yes! The surface story of what the reader sees in Issue #0, is just barely setting the stage for what is next. I wish we could release the entire season right away for everyone to see where we are going. One thing I can say is that Buster is much more than he seems.
SR: Is there anything else you want the audience to know about this series, the music attached to it or anything else that you have planned with this new venture?
US: When Issue #0 comes out on Comixology on Sept 8th, I would highly recommend reading it while listening to the official Seven Dead Stars soundtrack, which should be available the same day wherever you consume music. The two were designed hand-in-hand, and while each works independently, the combination is electric! And to keep up with the latest news make sure to sign up for our newsletter at www.SevenDeadStars.com!
SR: Thank you both for your time!