Mike Varty
(Vampire/Original Soundtrack)

Where are you from?

I'm from the House of Foiled!!! It's true, me and Sue live there. It sometimes goes under the name of Gargoyle House, has a gargoyle over the door and its our home in Farnborough, Hampshire. Also home of the very noisy Farnborough Airshow!! Before that, mostly South West England, by the Seaside.

I heard you've written the theme tune for Fluffy. Are you planning to write any additional music for the Fluffy soundtrack? If so, any idea about what this music will be like?

Yes, when I heard that Henry was filming a spoof Buffy, I offered to write some music. I'm usually looking for new things to do, and I'd already written the music for the final battle scene of Foiled, and I enjoyed that lots. Henry said that Fluffy would have to be totally 'original' i.e. he didn't want to use music from other films, or even Buffy like he did for Jedi, so everything needs to be written especially for Fluffy. But, it's got to sound like Buffy to be a spoof of course, so, the first thing I did was to write a 'new' theme tune. At the time, I kind of remembered how the theme went, so I started playing the guitar in a suitable hard rock style, and put something together. Henry send an mp3 of the original theme, but I only listened to it twice to avoid copying it completely. The whole Fluffy theme took about 8 hours to record, and about 2 hours to mix. And it's only 1 minute long!!

As for other music, me and Sue are writing other songs that may used in the film. The final decision is Henry's as to whether the songs are used, but we thought we'd write them anyway.

I might write some of the incidental music as well if I have time... Actually, most of the Buffy incidental music is very orchestral, so I shall enjoy the challenge of mimicking a full orchestra with some electronic keyboards.

I understand you've been involved in a music industry for some time, and that you have your own record label - Gargoyle Records. Where did it all begin?

Erm, the music industry... Sounds very exciting! Well, it's true, I do run a record label with Sue (partner in everything really), and I know a few vaguely famous people in the 'industry'. And some of it is exciting.

I'd say that I have to thank my parents for making it all begin. They provided me with the right genes, and made me practice until I cried. Of course, I didn't appreciate it at the time, so I gave up music in my teens. When I moved to Farnborough to get a job I started playing again, and this time I enjoyed it.

As for the music industry, I was fortunate enough to join a band which toured in Europe a few times, so got to know how things happen. Word of mouth and experience goes a long way!

Apart from Fluffy, what are you up to musically at the moment? What styles of music are you mainly interested in? Who are your influences?

I'm always madly busy, so I'm doing all sorts. Most of my music is Progressive Rock, which is a style I like because I get to play loads of big keyboard solos (can't let the guitar get away with all the glory). But recently, I've been branching out into folk with one band, and grunge/dance with Fluffy stuff. I'm currently producing three albums from three different bands that I'm in, two of these are nearly finished and will probably be released this year, the third is only in the writing stage, and we have maybe 3 songs.

As for my infuences, I'm probably most interested in people who perform well and inspire me, as opposed to particular music styles. I do like the really old Genesis music, and I love Fatboy Slim. I got a brilliant jazz CD a while ago, and some cello concertos as well. Quite varied I think.

Given you have your own record label Gargoyle Records - is there any chance of an official Fluffy soundtrack being released?

Well, I think yes, definitely. One of the things they do in Buffy is the bar/club scenes where they always have a different band playing. So, when Henry mentioned Fluffy, this idea popped into my mind, and I began to think about writing some grungy, dark, dance music for this type of scene. In fact, I recorded the first song just before writing the theme tune, and Sue did the vocals, so this kind of started us off on writing a Fluffy album. Since then, we've written two or three more songs, and we'll be putting them together into a multi-media album which has songs and Fluffy video clips as well. I guess this doesn't really make it a soundtrack album unless all of our songs are used as the soundtrack, but whatever is used in the film we'll put on the album as well, so it will be a soundtrack album.

We're also hoping to perform the songs at the premiere, although this is yet to be decided or arranged. We may do a few other venues as well, and I'm talking to a local venue about a vampire themed evening. Anything could happen here...

Do you have much acting and/or production (stage or TV) experience? What was your acting debut, and how old were you?

Suppose I've had a few acting parts. I recall the first one was Good King Wenslaslas in a school play when I was about 9. Starring role, with singing too!! After that I went on to play a dead man for a school TV production a really interesting part because I was completely covered by a blanket, and I wasn't supposed to be breathing. Then another part as a violinist in a Mollier play. Not only did I have to play violin, I had to argue with the main character in French because he was refusing to pay me. (To this day, I have no idea of what I was saying!) Passed through Bristol Amateur Operatic Society wearing tights and a wig into Squid in Noisy Joe made by Henry. Finally I got a big part, Scanner in Foiled. This was much fun.

How did you get involved in Fluffy - both on the musical side and the acting side of things?

Well, I got to know Henry a few years back, and he was making a short film called 'The Legend Of Noisy Joe'. Looking for willing people, I volunteered for a role, and this led to me being cast as Scanner in Foiled. Henry invited everyone to audition for Fluffy parts, and I just couldn't turn down the opportunity so I got involved. On the music side, I'm always looking for different things to do, so I couldn't avoid thinking about writing something, and having written some of the Foiled soundtrack I knew it would be good fun.

Why did you audition for the part of Vampire Extra?

Ageism!! Too old to play Alex (no longer a teenager!) too young to play Farmer. Actually, I did audition for Farmer no comment on this one. I was going to audition for the Count as well, but the auditions went on so long I decided that I wouldn't subject everyone to waiting even longer. Seriously, I don't count myself as an actor, but I enjoy being involved, so Vampire Extra is a suitable title.

Is this your first film, or have you been involved in other films?

Ah, please see question 7. I've always had an interest in films and film- making, but never really got around to doing it myself, until I met Henry. I was in Foiled before Fluffy, and it was a big part. Foiled is a full length film, so it was really brilliant to do this one.

Are you a Buffy fan?

Hmm. What exactly is a Buffy fan? I don't watch much telly really, so I don't follow Buffy episodes religiously. Occasionally I see them, and if I do, I watch them, so maybe I'm a minor fan. But I have a stringent disregard for facts, so I can't even tell you the real name of Buffy the actress!!! This is a heinous crime so I'm told, maybe I'm not even eligible for minor fan status? It's fun to watch though.

What have you gained from your involvement in Fluffy?

Met a whole bunch of good people and had a lot of fun. From meeting the Rapido TV crew at the auditions to writing orchestral music for the soundtrack. This is a big production for a short spoof film, so it covers a lot of ground and I think a lot of things were gained by everyone.

Do you have any claims to fame? (e.g. meeting famous people, appearances on TV / stage etc.)

I seem to be one of these people who never really meets anyone or gets on TV. I've met a few musicians, Steve Hacket, Rick Wakeman, John Whetton, but I'm not one for seeking out people to talk to them.

Me and Sue have done a few radio appearances, talking about our music. This is quite nerve-wracking at first, but you get used to it and it almost becomes enjoyable.

Any hobbies / obsessions? (things you enjoy doing)

My obsession is music. You wouldn't have guessed eh? I tend on the creative side, so I love writing and playing music. I have a passing interest in photography, but the pictures never come out as well as they look when I'm taking them. (Still, it's amazing what you can do with computer graphics these days.) Apart from that, I like a good film, and I would really like to be a member of the magic circle.

Any amusing acting / live concert / stage production cockups (faux pas) - things going wrong on stage etc.?

The most recent thing that went wrong was at the end of a gig in Holland where the music suddenly stops and I play a quiet string part which leads into some really ethereal vocals. Only problem was my string module packed up and I was left plonking the keys with no sound. Completely ruined the closing of the set. Nice.

And then there was the night when I forgot to take my violin to a gig...

And then there was another night when I forgot to take my keyboard stand...

Any bizarre talents?

A mate of mine could whistle the Star Spangled Banner while humming a harmony part. Clever I thought, so I tried it, completely failed, and was disappointed. No bizarre talents for me, unless you count playing 5 keyboards, foot pedals and singing backing vocals at a gig.

Any amusing / mad stories about things you've done, or have happened to you?

I have electrocuted myself several times! Believe me, it's not advisable, it hurts.

Any achievements you'd like to mention?

One of my major achievements is releasing an album worldwide. It may not count for much in the big big music industry but there's people who own it in New Zealand, so I'm happy with that. Apart from that, a leading part in Foiled with its premiere in the ICA cinema in London seems quite a landmark.

Any annoying habits? (or perhaps things that you say a lot?)

Now this is tricky one. I have a few annoying habits, but which ones should I admit to? I am something of a perfectionist this can be pretty annoying sometimes. To me, my most annoying habit is forgetting everything anyone says to me, especially if it's important.

Favourite album(s)?

I don't really listen to much music, and I tend to switch around what I like quite a lot, but I think my all time favourite is 'Wind and Wuthering' by Genesis. This has a lot of memories, and its great music.

Favourite record producer(s) + songwriter(s) + soundtrack composer(s) + singer(s) + band(s) + live act(s)?

I'm not really one for these things, but Sue is a brilliant singer!

Favourite films?

Just recently watched Titus Andromedus good film. Also like 6th Sense. And this weekend gone I watched Andromeda Strain. Coincidence with the name and all, but I liked the film, because I like most films which are strange 60s or 70s concoctions. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has some good music!

Favourite director(s) + actor(s) + actress(es)?

Couldn't name any because I never remember people's names. Or am I supposed to say Henry, Steve and Louise?

If you could meet one person dead or alive, who would it be?

If I could meet myself but myself at 90, I'd ask what my regrets were, and then I'd make damn sure I did something about it. Alternatively, I'd like to speak to someone from the year 10,000 to find out how the future turns out. Lastly, maybe whoever built Stone Henge?

What's your favourite fluffy thing?

My second favourite fluffy thing is a bear given to me by the owner of my first favourite fluffy thing.