An Interview with 'Star Fleet' Composer Paul Bliss

Source: DVD Times

I was five years of age when Go Nagai’s X-Bomber (re-titled to Star Fleet in the UK) originally hit our TV screens in 1982. It wasn’t until a couple of years later though that I recall sitting down to it and being mesmerised by these wonderful puppets flying around in spaceships, with our heroes forming a giant robot to take on an army of scary insectoid baddies. And as with most catchy shows from the eighties I adored the music; it’s the kind of thing we never get to hear these days, which is why I’m always more than happy to revisit shows from my youth. Star Fleet was entirely composed by Paul Bliss, who managed to take the show’s various themes and build a winning pop/synth score around them, while the bulk of the series was translated and dubbed into English. Today, if ever Star Fleet is mentioned people seem to instantly recall the popular closing credits theme or Brian May cover over anything else. It’s not a great stretch, then, to say that it’s held up considerably well over the past 25 years and remains a true childhood favourite for many. With Fabulous Films set to release Star Fleet for the first time on DVD in the UK, I decided to get in touch with its composer and ask him about his memories working on the series. I hope the fans out there will enjoy as DVD Times welcomes Paul Bliss.

[Kevin Gilvear]: There’s surprisingly little info about you online. Is that because you’re a generally private person?

[Paul Bliss]: I’m not really surprised if there isn’t much info about me online – I think it would be accurate to say that my music career has been spent largely (with the exception of The Bliss Band’s two albums for CBS records in the late 70’s) as a supporting musician for the many bands and artists I’ve worked with as keyboard player (The Moody Blues, The Hollies, Sheena Easton, David Essex, Elaine Paige to name but a few), and as a songwriter (Celine Dion, Olivia Newton-John, Janet Jackson, Al Jarreau, Barbara Dickson). You really don’t get the recognition or exposure that ‘the artistes’ get. It is however a situation that I’m quite content with – I’ve never wanted to be in the spotlight myself, I just wanted to make good music.

[KG]: You seem to have had a very interesting music career. Would you care to talk a little about starting out in the business.

[PB]: I’m not sure that I have anything particularly relevant to say about that – I started out nearly 40 years ago, and the situation is totally different now. It seems that the internet plays a huge part in bands’ exposure and fan information which wasn’t even invented when I started out!
The only way to get a record deal when I started was to get heard by a record company and sign a recording contract to get the money to make a record and finance touring. Now the advent of the ‘bedroom studio’ makes it possible for anyone to make decent sounding recordings – all you need is the talent! I would like to think that this creates a much more open environment for musicians to get their work heard.

[KG]: Do you get much fan interest today from people who fondly recall Star Fleet?

[PB]: I haven’t had any direct contact from anyone regarding the series, but since the news of the DVD release I’ve become aware of the amazing amount of interest and affection that people have for it. I know that it was a highly rated (in terms of viewer numbers) show on its first screening some 25 years ago, and was a little surprised that (as far as I’m aware) it was never repeated…but I guess that the time is now right for this release.

[KG]: Star Fleet was your first commissioned television/movie work I believe. How did that originally come about and how long did you have to work on the project?

[PB]: Yes that’s right – it was my first attempt at scoring. It was something that I’d mentioned to my publisher that I would like to take a shot at – writing ‘pop music’ has its own set of rules and restrictions that, as a creative person, you’re tempted to step outside of – if only to see what your limitations are! I think that my publishers were approached with the Star Fleet project and my name was put forward.

It’s hard for me to remember a lot of the details, but I think that I did the majority of the underscore in about 8 weeks, and the start and end titles in about 2 weeks – that includes the writing and recording! I know that I was working about 16 hour days for most of the time, but as I had my own very modest home studio (a Fostex 8-track and Oberheim synth/sequencer) it made life a little easier. As there was about 15-20mins of music per 30 min episode, you can imagine how pressured I felt to get it all done!

Continue reading the interview HERE...


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