38 minutes | May 26, 2023
Ariel Marx (A Small Light, Sanctuary)
When last we spoke to composer and multi-instrumentalist Ariel Marx, we broke down her haunting, curious score to Hulu's miniseries Candy. But she's been as busy as ever since, bringing her signature sense of experimental sparseness to projects on both the big and small screens. Most recently, she's lent her unique musical voice to two intriguing projects about women asserting their strength and power in unconventional circumstances. The first is the National Geographic miniseries A Small Light, following Dutch secretary Miep Gies (Bel Powley) in her efforts to keep Anne Frank and her family safe during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Breaking away from typical symphonic approaches you'd expect from period dramas, Marx's score is intimate and sparse, juggling the 1930s jazz vibe of Amsterdam in its prime with the looming spectre of the Third Reich, and the many sacrifices its characters will endure. On the other side of the coin, Marx lent her talents to NEON's sizzling, kinky dark comedy Sanctuary, starring Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbott as two people playing out their own dangerous game of domination and submission. Marx's score is glossy when it needs to play up the perverse romance of their situation, brittle when the delicate balance of the pair's play begins to fray. Ariel Marx comes onto the podcast to discuss both of these scores, her love of sparse ensembles, and other methods to her musical madness. You can find Ariel Marx at her official website. A Small Light is currently streaming on Hulu and Disney+, and Sanctuary is currently playing in select theaters. You can also listen to the score for A Small Light on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Hollywood Records.
51 minutes | May 19, 2023
Stephen Barton and Frederik Wiedmann (Star Trek: Picard)
The third season of Star Trek: Picard had a lot on its shoulders: It was the final season of its show, as well as a bombastic, blockbuster-level bow for the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. For its first two seasons, Patrick Stewart and the showrunners shied away from Starfleet uniforms and shiny utopias, and Jeff Russo's score reflected that (as we've discussed with him on this very show). But showrunner Terry Matalas had a different vision in mind for Season 3: Celebrate the crew whose adventures captured generations of fans, with a big, brassy sendoff meant to give them the finale they finally deserved. And that they did, thanks to the tireless work of composers Stephen Barton and Frederik Wiedmann. Together, they handled hours of big orchestral sounds, crafting new themes for ships and characters like the Titan and Jack Crusher. At the same time, there was decades' worth of callbacks to Star Trek's musical legacy that needed acknowledgment, from Jerry Goldsmith's TNG theme to the movie-esque sweep of James Horner and Dennis McCarthy. Through plenty of blood, sweat, and tears, they pulled it off, crafting an immense body of work that fit snugly within the legacy of Star Trek while incorporating musical Easter eggs big and small into its superstructure. This week on the podcast, Barton and Wiedmann join me for a nice long chat about the hectic production process, the many Trekkian cues they had to blend together, and the value of having creative collaborators (like Matalas) who know exactly what they want. You can find Stephen Barton and Frederik Wiedmann at their official websites. The entirety of Picard Season 3 is available for streaming on Paramount+. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Lakeshore Records.
27 minutes | May 12, 2023
Pat Irwin (Rocko's Modern Life)
In the 1990s, Nickelodeon was a bastion of surprisingly sophisticated children's animation, and few shows demonstrated that freewheeling sense of absurdity than Rocko's Modern Life. The tale of a beleaguered wallaby surviving the wildest adventures with little more than a smile on his face and his close-knit group of friends, it was a generation-defining show thanks to its surprisingly adult jokes and unhinged tone. But a huge component of the show's success comes courtesy of its frenetic, genre-hopping score, courtesy of New Wave legend Pat Irwin. When he first came to the show in the '90s, he was primarily known as a member of the B-52s, and had played with bands like 8-Eyed Spy and the Raybeats. But here, he gave Rocko's antics vivid life with an unstoppable earworm of a score, flitting between lounge jazz, surf rock, and a host of other influences and touchpoints depending on what shenanigans the wallaby found himself in next. Now, Nickelodeon Records has finally released an album comprising highlights from the first two seasons of the show. Irwin joins us on the podcast to talk about his early days in the "no wave" New York music scene, assembling a master team of musicians to record the score, and his current projects (including his ambient country project, SUSS). You can find Pat Irwin at his official website. Rocko's Modern Life is currently streaming on Paramount+. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Nickelodeon Records.
24 minutes | May 5, 2023
Ron Wasserman (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always)
It's morphin' time! Thirty years after Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers hit the airwaves and thrilled '90s latchkey kids the world over, the franchise has stayed strong through 29 seasons, dozens of incarnations, and more Zords than you can shake a Power Sword at. But one of the elements that made it such a mainstay was its shredding, hard-rock theme song, with its heavy power chords, driving rhythms, and catchy battle cry of "Go, go, Power Rangers!" It, and the Power Rangers sound as a whole, was the soundtrack to a generation, fueled primarily by the show's composer, Ron Wasserman (who also supplied other catchy licks to other millennial catnip like the '90s X-Men cartoon and Dragon Ball Z). Now, Wasserman is back for the first time in decades to score new Power Rangers -- this time, for Netflix's 30th-anniversary reunion special, Once & Always. Bringing back four of the old-school '90s Rangers, including original Rangers Zack (Walter Emanuel Jones) and Billy (David Yost), the special lets these middle-aged superheroes get one last crack at classic villain Rita Repulsa, with all the spandex-clad karate that entails. Not only that, the special's a hotbed of Easter eggs for new and old fans alike, and the nostalgia trip wouldn't be complete without Wasserman's involvement. We're thrilled to have Wasserman on the show to talk about Power Rangers' grip on a certain segment of pop culture, how the sound of the show evolved, and how he's updated it for this latest trip back to the Morphin' Grid. You can find Ron Wasserman at his official website. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always is currently streaming on Netflix.
32 minutes | Apr 18, 2023
Trevor Gureckis (Dead Space Remake)
When last we left composer Trevor Gureckis, he was just beginning his eerie, unsettling work on M. Night Shyamalan's acclaimed Apple TV+ series Servant. But in the intervening years, he's lent his uniquely experimental grasp of both classical and electronic instruments to films like The Goldfinch, Bloodline, and Old. But his most recent project sees him dipping not just into the world of video games, but the existing soundscape of a previous composer: EA's high-def remake of the space horror classic Dead Space. Building from Jason Graves' dissonant, screeching-metal score to the original game, Gureckis' role is to flesh out the expanded adventures of Isaac Clarke, the unlucky engineer who finds himself amid a monstrous infestation of alien creatures aboard the USG Ishimura. That includes giving voice to new areas of the game, as well as new narrative sections that lend Isaac greater narrative weight than in the original game. Now, Trevor joins us on the show once again to catch up with his work since Servant began, his first foray into video game scoring, and the challenge of composing new material that matches the existing voice of another composer's work. You can find Trevor Gureckis at his official website here. Dead Space is currently available for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. You can also listen to his score for the remastered Dead Space on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of EA Music.
50 minutes | Mar 31, 2023
Austin Wintory (Aliens: Fireteam Elite)
The 2023 Grammys have come and gone, and the first Grammy for Best Video Game Score has already been awarded (congratulations, Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Stephanie Economou!). But one of her fellow nominees in that category is video game music royalty in his own right -- Austin Wintory, whose score for the acclaimed indie game Journey netted him a Grammy nomination for a video game score years before it became its own category. This time, he was nominated for his score for Aliens: Fireteam Elite, a third-person shooter based on the iconic Alien franchise. Following a team of Colonial Marines shooting their way through alien-infested space stations and planets, Fireteam Elite calls for a much greater action focus than Journey or other games Wintory has scored. But in so doing, he manages to craft a bombastic, atmospheric score that both pays homage to the soundscapes of previous Alien composers like Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner, but also injects lots of low brass and flute solos courtesy of Sara Andon, creating a noir-like sound to fit the story's mysterious tone. Together, Austin and I talk about the score itself, how to weave those influences into the demands of gameplay, and grander chats about the broader composer community and his role in highlighting those voices (thanks to Wintory's robust YouTube channel, which features score recommendations, BTS stuff, and interviews with other composers and voice actors). And if you want even more insight into his process for the Fireteam Elite score, you can find a track-by-track video breakdown of the score, complete with text commentary, here. You can find Austin Wintory at his official website here. Aliens: Fireteam Elite is currently available to play on PS5, PC, XONE, PS4, and XS. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of 20th Century Studios.
42 minutes | Mar 27, 2023
Chris Westlake (Star Trek: Lower Decks)
The Star Trek universe is a franchise with decades of musical legacy, from the original Alexander Courage fanfare to Jerry Goldsmith's nautical bombast for The Motion Picture, all the way to Michael Giacchino's sweeping work on the J.J. Abrams films. But Paramount+'s animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks, which follows the bottom-rung officers on the support ship the USS Cerritos, doesn't stray from that formula to go for the laughs. Instead, composer Chris Westlake chose to lean into Trek's innate musical majesty, crafting a score that's just as big -- if not bigger -- than some of the other entries in the franchise's canon. It's new Trek, constantly referencing the old Trek, but taking the exploits of the Cerritos as seriously as those of the USS Enterprise. Westlake has worked for decades on films like Before We Go, also offering additional music for trailers for Star Wars and films like Gravity. And for Lower Decks, he and showrunner (and close friend) Mike McMahan knew they needed to build a suitably Trekkian soundscape for the show, rather than pointing out the gags innate to the series' irreverence to the final frontier. Together, we talk about boosting the laughs by taking Trek music seriously, his own history with the franchise's musical soundscapes, and figuring out exactly what Klingon death metal sounds like. (Plus, you'll get exclusive commentary from Westlake on how his iconic theme for the show came together.) You can find Chris Westlake at his official website here. All three seasons to date of Star Trek: Lower Decks are currently streaming on Paramount+. You can also listen to the score on vinyl or your preferred music streaming service, courtesy of Lakeshore Records.
24 minutes | Mar 6, 2023
Tim Hecker (Infinity Pool)
Today, we're talking about the latest film from director Brandon Cronenberg, Infinity Pool, another in a series of cinematic provocations from the son of acclaimed body-horror maestro David Cronenberg. While his works travel along similar roads -- the alienation of the self from the human body, how class intersects with violence -- the younger Cronenberg twists the visceral knife even further in parts, trafficking further in extremity and seeing how that further warps his film's reflections of humanity. In Infinity Pool, that takes the form of a blood-soaked bacchanal on a mysterious island nation frequented by rich tourists, who can afford to literally get away with murder (by having a clone made of themselves to be executed in their stead). With the threat of consequence no longer looming over them, the characters of Infinity Pool sink into a (sometimes literal) orgy of depravity, as disorienting as it is compelling to watch. Aiding in that dizzying psychedelia is the score by acclaimed experimental musician and producer Tim Hecker, who crafts a suitably disorienting, doomed sound constructed from crunchy samples and unexpected analog elements. He's a deeply thoughtful musician and theorist, as you'll hear, as we talk about building a "music ecology" for Infinity Pool's constructed setting, exploring the limits of the film's sonic nihilism, and more. You can find Tim Hecker at his official website here. Infinity Pool is currently playing in theaters. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Milan Records.
38 minutes | Feb 24, 2023
Stephanie Economou (Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok)
Earlier this month, the 2022 Grammys ran its first-ever category for Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media -- a long-overdue recognition of the value of video game scores as a legitimate method of expression, and a source of some incredible music. And among an initial crop of stellar composers offering intriguing sounds to all manner of video games big and small, it was a DLC, of all things, that took home the prize: the Dawn of Ragnarok DLC for Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. While the base game put you in the shoes of a Viking descendant of the Norse god Odin, Dawn of Ragnarok puts you right in Odin's shoes, telling a mournful, mythological tale of revenge that required a huge, bombastic sound suffused with Nordic muscle. Stephanie Economou, fresh off previous Valhalla DLC The Siege of Paris, took to that assignment with her signature gusto: She recruited black metal band Wilderun to contribute tracks and give her an education on the genre itself, her frequent collaborator Ari Mason to contribute vocals, and the show-stopping title theme saw her collaborating with Assassin's Creed musical titan Einar Selvik. It's a pulse-pounding, immersive score that's as big as its game, and Economou sat down to talk with us the week before the Grammys to discuss the building of that score, how it dovetailed into her growth as a composer, and how it feels to be the first female Grammy nominee for Best Original Video Game Score. You can find Stephanie Economou at her official website here. Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok is currently available to play on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Lakeshore Records.
42 minutes | Feb 12, 2023
Simon Franglen (Avatar: The Way of Water)
It's safe to say that Eywa has smiled on James Cameron's long-awaited sequel to his 2009 epic Avatar; a mere two months into its run, Avatar: The Way of Water has grossed more than $2 billion, becoming the fourth-highest-grossing movie of all time as of publication (and the third-highest international box office success). For Cameron, it was a work more than a decade in the making -- and composer Simon Franglen was along for the ride for most of that journey. The London-born Franglen began his musical career as a producer and arranger, contributing to film scores as far back as Dances with Wolves. He was an important collaborator with composer and close friend James Horner for both Titanic and Avatar, and when Horner tragically passed in 2015, the baton passed to him to continue Horner's work building the vibrant, eclectic sounds of the alien planet of Pandora. Building on the first film's musical palette, which blended standard orchestral flourish with a bevy of world-music sounds, Franglen expands on that work with a much more thematic score, one rooted in the sequel's focus on the Sully family and the new areas of Pandora they would explore in their fight against the colonial forces of Earth. This included everything from Maori instruments and vocal stylings to signpost the new water tribe we meet, the Metkayina, as well as research into whale sounds for the majestic Tulkun creatures we meet along the way. It's a score as brassy and eclectic as it is voluminous -- Franglen composed nearly three hours of music for the film, ranging from traditional orchestra to unique instruments to vocal work with both choirs and star Zoe Saldana, who provides vocals for the in-universe "Songcord," a vital part of the Na'vi's cultural tapestry. Together, we talk about Franglen's work on The Way of Water, the challenges inherent in building Pandora's musical palette, and what it was like touring with Barbra Streisand on her comeback tour in the '90s. (Also, Simon talks us through a couple of tracks from the Avatar score in exclusive track commentaries.) You can find Simon Franglen at his official website here. Avatar: The Way of Water is currently playing in theaters. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of 20th Century Studios.
30 minutes | Jan 21, 2023
Chanda Dancy (Devotion, Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody)
For Texan-born composer Chanda Dancy, 2022 feels like a breakthrough year. She's worked in the film and television composing business for eighteen years, an alumnus of the USC Film Scoring Program and the Sundance Composers Lab, as well as projects like Netflix's The Defeated and Everything Before Us. But she's struck gold with several major projects this year... including one that has her on the shortlist for an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score. If so, she'd be the first Black woman in the history of the Oscars to receive such long-overdue recognition. That project, of course, is J.D. Dillard's moving, effective Korean War epic Devotion, starring Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell (in his second go-round in the cockpit this year after Top Gun: Maverick) as real-life fighter pilots -- and eventual best friends -- Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner. Charting the course of their friendship over sorties and scuffles within a very racially-stratified US Navy, Dillard's work is understated in its power, anchored by Majors and Powell's wounded, vulnerable performances. And thrumming underneath their interpersonal tensions and the roar of gunfire is Dancy's churning, propulsive score, one that pits steady synths and percussion with whirling high strings to contrast the powerful machines on display with the very human men who fly them. That's not the only iconic project Dancy worked on this year: she also provided the incidental score for Kasi Lemmons' biopic of Whitney Houston, I Wanna Dance with Somebody. Together (just a few hours before her Oscar shortlist inclusion was announced, mind you), Dancy and I talked about the long road she took to get to this place in her career, the classical influences that have shaped her work, and what it meant to her and her orchestras to get the chance to highlight the biggest moments of The Voice's life and songs. You can find Chanda Dancy at her official website here. Devotion is currently streaming on Paramount+, and Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody is currently playing in theaters. You can also listen to the score for Devotion on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Lakeshore Records.
32 minutes | Jan 14, 2023
Germaine Franco (Encanto)
It's hard to think of another songbook in Disney's oeuvre that has put a dent in pop culture quite like Encanto, the latest from Walt Disney Animation Studios. "We Don't Talk About Bruno," "The Family Madrigal," "Surface Pressure," all songs that have topped Billboard charts and dominated TikTok for more than a year now, courtesy of Hamilton scribe Lin-Manuel Miranda. But an equally vital part of Encanto's inviting world, an enchanted casita in which the vibrant members of the Madrigal family live and dream, is the orchestral score courtesy of Germaine Franco. It's the score that made Franco an Oscar nominee, only the sixth woman in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Original Score (and the first Latina). And now, that same score is up for a Grammy for Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, alongside many of the same big names she competed against for the Academy Award earlier this year: Hans Zimmer, Jonny Greenwood, and Nicholas Britell. Germaine's score for Encanto is inviting and magical, making expert use of a variety of Latinx instruments and musical styles to fill in the many corners of the Madrigal family tree. Colombian rhythms mix with samba and cumbia, alongside more vital, traditional orchestral instrumentation. It's a melting pot of influences that nonetheless span vast corners of the Latinx umbrella, making for a sound as narratively diverse as it is thematically appropriate. Now, we welcome Germaine Franco to the show to discuss her score for Encanto and more. You can find Germaine Franco at her official website here. Encanto is currently streaming on Disney+. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Walt Disney Records.
30 minutes | Dec 5, 2022
Mark Korven (The Peripheral)
William Gibson is the father of cyberpunk, that most evocative of sci-fi genres -- where technology meets flesh in the neon-soaked worlds of the corporate-run near future. But explicit adaptations of his work have been few and far between: the closest I can think of is the wishy-washy Keanu Reeves vehicle Johnny Mnemonic. The latest, and most sprawling, attempt comes from Prime Video's The Peripheral, based on the 2014 novel of the same name about two siblings in a near-future rural dystopia (played by Chloe Grace Moretz and Jack Reynor) who become unwitting pawns in a game of wits and warfare decades further in the future, across differing timelines. Westworld showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy port over that show's sense of dour retro-futurism into The Peripheral's sleek, minimalist designs and big ideas about the destiny of humanity. But alongside that sits a tightly-plotted and darkly funny slice of rural-tech thriller, somewhere between Ozark and, well, Westworld, with plenty of portentous omens about the destruction of the world and the dissolution of identity along the way. It certainly helps matters that the show is scored by this week's guest, Genie and Gemini Award-winning composer Mark Korven. A staple of Canadian horror and sci-fi film and TV, Korven cut his teeth with Peripheral director and EP Vincenzo Natali on films like Cube. But his best-known work is easily his score for 2015's The Witch, for which he helped invent the innovative new instrument, The Apprehension Engine. His works are crackling, atmospheric pieces that revel in their own discordance, banging and clanging odd instruments together. That approach dovetails nicely with The Peripheral's brutalist sci-fi minimalism, with a hefty drone of synth to soak in the proceedings alongside his homespun methods. On the pod, we talk about the Apprehension Engine, and how he approached his score to The Peripheral. You can find Mark Korven at his official website here. The entire first season of The Peripheral is now streaming on Prime Video. You can also stream the soundtrack on your preferred streaming service courtesy of Lakeshore Records.
40 minutes | Nov 19, 2022
Colin Stetson (The Menu)
Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works. It's hard to think of a more overt lens through which to satirize the divisions of class more than through food: Fast food vs. haute cuisine, Michelin stars over star-shaped chicken nuggets. Mark Mylod's The Menu is a sizzling satire of the snootiness of fine dining, and the class conflicts it unfurls. Set on a remote island that's home to one of the most exclusive restaurants in the world, The Menu treats us to a multi-course prix fixe of mayhem centered around high-profile chef Julian Slowik (a beautifully ostentatious Ralph Fiennes). But as the eclectic group of well-off diners sample one conceptually-minded meal after another, it becomes clear there's more than meets the eye for Chef Slowick's menu. Accompanying each course of the menu Mylod, his cast, and screenwriters Seth Reiss and Will Tracy have set out for us is a cheekily propulsive score courtesy of Hereditary composer Colin Stetson. He lays out ornate soundscapes and unusual instruments (glasses played with chopsticks, pans as percussion) with the same perverse mirth as Fiennes' devilish chef, granting each course, and each sick joke on Chef Slowik's guests, a unique voice. And all throughout lays an arch counterpoint to the kind of chamber-music regalness we aesthetically associate with fine dining. It's a pleasure to welcome Colin Stetson to the podcast to talk about all these ideas and more. You can find Colin Stetson at his official website here. The Menu is currently playing in theaters. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Milan Records.
43 minutes | Oct 29, 2022
Ben Lovett (Hellraiser)
Imagine a world where pain and pleasure are one and the same, where hellish delights await those who crave the extremities of sensation. That's the philosophical underpinning behind Clive Barker's Hellraiser series, one of horror's most long-running and iconic franchises, centering around the poor unfortunate souls who come across the Lamarchand Box, a mysterious puzzle box which -- when opened -- unleashes the Cenobites, a cabal of deformed hedonists riding the razor's edge of sadomasochistic experience. It's a series that's run across eleven films over thirty-plus years, the latest being a radical reimagining courtesy of The Night House and Relative director David Bruckner. This time, series icon Pinhead is reimagined as a "dark priest" played by Sense8's Jamie Clayton, who soon haunts a recovering addict named Riley (Odessa A'zion), who crosses paths with the Lamarchand Box after her brother goes missing. It's a film filled with grim delights and no small amount of squicky body horror, as our characters learn firsthand what happens when otherworldly forces conspire to tear your soul apart. Just as the Cenobites explore the curious intersections between blood and beauty, so does Bruckner's regular composer, Ben Lovett, experiment with different configurations of his musical puzzle box. In addition to his distinctive use of electronic elements and discordant, warped instrumentation, he finds ways to weave in Christopher Young's classic theme from the 1991 original, tying it to Hellraisers of the past while cementing Bruckner's version as its own unique beast. Now, Ben and I talk about his score to Hellraiser, his collaboration with David Bruckner, and much more (alongside commentary tracks from the score). You can find Ben Lovett at his official website here. Hellraiser is currently streaming on Hulu. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Lakeshore Records.
41 minutes | Oct 21, 2022
Andrew Prahlow (Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye)
When Outer Wilds was released in 2019, it felt like a casual revolution of not just adventure games as a genre but video game music as a whole. The game is a sprawling yet intimate time-loop adventure in which you play an archaeologist/astronaut in a distant system, solving the mystery of why your sun keeps exploding twenty-some minutes after you wake up. And through its elegant, cozy presentation and the banjo-forward music of BAFTA-nominated composer Andrew Prahlow, it also explored ideas of our own significance in the grand scheme of the universe. The success of both game and soundtrack led Prahlow back to Outer Wilds for its expansion, Echoes of the Eye, giving him a chance to go back to the camping-out-in-space feel of the original while exploring new, alien territory to match the new ring world your character encounters in the DLC. What's more, he followed up the expansion's soundtrack with "The Lost Reels," which add six extended musical suites that help express some of the complex, post-rock ideas explored in the score -- from the orchestral expansiveness of "Older Than the Universe" to the playful string-quartet drive of "The Spirit of Water." On today's podcast, I sat down with Prahlow to discuss the big, heady ideas Outer Wilds expresses in both game and music form, his own response to the score's breakaway success, and how it feels to be in consideration for the GRAMMY's first award for video game music composition. (He also takes us through a few tracks from The Lost Reels with some exclusive commentaries.) You can find Andrew Prahlow at his official website here. Outer Wilds is currently available on Xbox, Steam, and PlayStation. You can also listen to The Lost Reels on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Andrew Prahlow.
36 minutes | Oct 14, 2022
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Orchestrators Tutti Music Partners
Much has been said and written about just the sheer size and scale (and cost) of Prime Video's new flagship series, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. And for good reason: Amazon's spent nearly a billion dollars on a series adapting arguably the most acclaimed and well-regarded fantasy series of all time, notably opting to tell a story set hundreds of years before Frodo's journey to destroy the One Ring. Instead, Rings of Power is content to slowly build a years-long tale in the Second Age, back when Galadriel was a brash young warrior, the Hobbits were called Harfoots, and Sauron was just a shadow. A story this sprawling and expensive-looking requires a similarly robust score, one that evokes the sweep of the iconic Howard Shore scores for the Peter Jackson films and sets it apart as its own thing. While Shore composed a haunting title theme, the rest of the score goes to acclaimed composer (and previous guest) Bear McCreary, whose expertise with big-budget television and love of world music sounds adds a welcome variety to the show's sound. But with the sheer amount of score required for the series, sometimes composers need a little help, and that's where orchestrators Tutti Music Partners come in. Longtime collaborators with Bear since 2009, Jonathan Beard, Ed Trybek, and Henri Wilkinson are the ones who help put Bear's music to paper, interpret where possible, and help produce the score itself. I was lucky enough to sit down with Jonathan, Ed, and Henri to talk about their working relationship with Bear, what an orchestrator does, and how their role was uniquely suited to bringing Rings of Power's music to life. You can find Tutti Music Partners at their official website here. Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is currently streaming on Prime Video. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Amazon.
26 minutes | Sep 30, 2022
Amie Doherty (She-Hulk: Attorney at Law)
Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about origins and nuances of their latest works, as well as select commentaries from some of the score's most important tracks. This far into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's an undeniable challenge to find new musical avenues to tread, as some of our previous episodes talking to Marvel composers can attest. But just as the Disney+ Marvel series are dabbling in new genres, so too is She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, which is less a superhero action show than an Ally McBeal-styled legal dramedy about Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) and her attempts to balance her high-paying legal career with life as a single woman. (And, of course, the fact she can turn into an invincible green giantess at will.) As such, She-Hulk demands a milder, more contemplative musical palate than you might expect from the smash and crash of a lot of Marvel works. That's where Irish composer and orchestrator Amie Doherty comes in, underscoring the series with a sprightly, nimble score matching the quick-witted chicanery of Jen's antics with the bold, brassy fanfare of a superhero series. And this week, she joins me on the show to talk about her beginnings as a Sundance Composer Fellow, working within the Marvel ecosystem, and taking diverse musical swings at the many different cases and chases we see every week (with some exclusive track commentaries along the way). You can find Amie Doherty at her official website here. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is currently streaming on Disney+, and you can listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Marvel Music.
35 minutes | Sep 24, 2022
Nima Fakhrara (Lou)
Of all the actors to get a John Wick-ian action vehicle, Allison Janney might just be the last one on your list. And yet, here we are with Anna Foerster's Lou, the straight-to-Netflix action thriller starring the West Wing legend, now transformed into a former CIA fixer who's given up the life for an isolated existence on a remote coastal island. But her skills are needed once more when her neighbor (Jurnee Smollett) comes to her in the middle of a rainstorm for help: Her daughter's been kidnapped, and her dangerous ex-husband (Logan Marshall-Green) is the culprit. Together, the two must track them through the mud-soaked forest, Lou calling on her particular set of skills to do one last bit of good. It's a dark, grimy, psychologically complex thriller, with its crackling corners illuminated by Nima Fakhrara's richly textured score. The Iranian-born composer has worked on everything from video games like Detroit: Become Human to ad campaigns for Balenciaga. His work is characterized by his incredible use of synths and staggered, rhythmic vocals. His score for 2019's Becky, another action thriller involving a transformed character actor (Kevin James), is a muscular, primal scream of a score. Lou follows in a quieter permutation of that tradition. Clacking percussion, halting vocals, and tape-scratch elements from 1980s cassette recordings all culminate in a haunting sound that feels like the lost memories of an aging warrior. And today, we've got Nima Fakhrara on the podcast to talk about his musical history, his experiences on Lou, and the innovative techniques he used to bring the score to life. (We'll also hear a few exclusive track commentaries from the score.) You can find Nima Fakhrara at his official website here. Lou is currently streaming on Netflix You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Netflix Music.
48 minutes | Sep 3, 2022
Nainita Desai (Immortality)
We finally get to talk about a video game score for the first time in the podcast's history! And yet, we're still intimately connected to the realm of moviemaking considering the subject material: Immortality, the new game from Sam Barlow, who made Her Story and Telling Lies. Keeping with the interactive-movie brief of those previous games, Immortality is a time/genre-spanning mystery that tasks you with poring over the raw footage of three films starring a young actress named Marissa Marcel, who disappeared without a trace. By jumping from clip to clip between these films -- late-'60s erotic religious thriller Ambrosio, 1970s detective film Minsky, and 1999 showbiz tragedy Two of Everything -- you peel back the layers of Marissa's fate, and explore the very nature of media as a means to achieve eternal life. For this project, Barlow enlisted the aid of twice-Emmy-nominated composer Nainita Desai, who also scored Telling Lies, to build the musical world of Immortality. Rather than scoring to genre specificity, Desai built three major themes exploring unique ideas spread among the three films: religion, life, and art. And, of course, she finds ways to subvert and play with those ideas, giving her lush, suspenseful orchestrations a feeling of cohesion while guiding the player through the emotional journey we share with Marissa. I was delighted to have Nainita on the show to talk about her journey, her influences, her unique working relationship with Barlow, and the cinematic influences she drew from as she stitched these three celluloid worlds together. (Plus, stay tuned for track commentaries breaking down these motifs in greater depth.) You can find Nainita Desai on her official website here. Immortality is available to play on Steam, Netflix Games, and Xbox (free on Day One if you have Game Pass) You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Lakeshore Records.