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Right on Cue
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.
32 minutes | Aug 26, 2022
Anna Waronker (Yellowjackets)
As the Emmys swerve just around the corner, I wanted to take a look at one of the year's best shows -- Showtime's Yellowjackets, which is currently up for three Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series. The witty, darkly comic series tracks the trials and traumas of a high school girls' soccer team stranded in the mountains by a plane crash, and the ways their situation ripples through into the future of the survivors decades later. It's a (literally) killer showcase for its cast, including Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, and Juliette Lewis as adult versions of the crash's few remaining survivors. And the story is filled with amputations, poisonings, blood sacrifices, and explosions -- and that's only in one-half of the show's time-hopping tragedy. With its heady mix of Lost and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's easy to see why it's getting so much praise. One hardly-undersung element, ironically enough, is the score courtesy of Craig Wedren and this week's guest, Anna Waronker. A veteran of the LA alternative/indie scene, Waronker made her bones as frontwoman of alt-rock band that dog, she soon moved into film and TV composing with films like Josie and the Pussycats and, most recently, shows like Hulu's Shrill. Those grungy alt-rock roots are in full force in her and Wedren's work on the Yellowjackets, personified in its earworm of an opening title track, "No Return." This week, I'm here with Anna to talk about coming up as a composer, how her riot-grrl sensibilities translated to film and TV scoring, and the subversive approaches she and Wedren took to Yellowjackets (as well as her solo work for fellow Showtime comedy I Love This For You. Both Yellowjackets and I Love This For You are currently streamable on Showtime. You can also listen to the score for the first season of Yellowjackets on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Lakeshore Records.
31 minutes | Aug 13, 2022
Dustin O'Halloran and Herdis Stefánsdóttir (The Essex Serpent)
While Apple TV+ is home to some of the biggest shows on TV -- your Teds Lasso, your Severances -- some of its best, most beguiling shows and miniseries don't get talked about nearly as often. Among those hidden gems is The Essex Serpent, the six-part adaptation of the novel by Sarah Perry, starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston. Set in turn-of-the-century England, The Essex Serpent follows Cora Seaborne (Danes), a recently widowed Londoner, who sees her newfound freedom as the perfect excuse to pursue her love of science. That pursuit takes her to the Essex countryside, where a small town has been besieged by what's been reported to be a massive serpent. Some, including the town pastor (played by Hiddleston), doubt its veracity, but the town itself is convinced, and Cora's arrival just puts more fuel on the fire. It's a scintillating, romantic, deeply textured series about the thin lines between science and mysticism, and the reasons we might believe in one or the other. Aiding the show's foggy atmosphere is its beguiling score courtesy of Oscar-nominated composer Dustin O'Halloran and Icelandic composer Herdis Stefánsdóttir -- a heady mix of string combos and acoustics, blended with textured sounds that evoke the rush of sea air and the twist of rope. There are shades of O'Halloran's score for Ammonite, which we've spoken to him on the pod about before, mixed with a tinge of the fantastic as airy instrumentals give way to darker, moodier modes. I sat down with Dustin and Herdis to talk about all these elements and more. You can find Dustin O'Halloran and Herdis Stefansdottir at their official websites. The Essex Serpent is streaming in its entirety on Apple TV+. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Apple Music.
59 minutes | Aug 10, 2022
Dominic Lewis (Bullet Train)
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 and select commentaries from some of the score's most important tracks. What do you get when you throw Brad Pitt onto a fast-moving train with a bunch of eclectic assassins, an army of yakuza, and an arch sense of humor? Turns out you get Bullet Train, the latest high-concept action thriller from John Wick co-director David Leitch. Simply put, it's a gonzo mishmash of action influences, from anime to Jackie Chan to, well, John Wick, with a storytelling style as anarchic and tonally playful as that descriptor sounds. Leitch and the cast aim for capital-r Ridiculous with every intricate fight scene, from a brawl in the train's 'quiet car' to extended riffs on Thomas the Tank Engine. Rather than feebly attempt to wrangle that insanity into a sedate, consistent score, composer Dominic Lewis revels in the chaos, crafting what he calls a "concept album" of tracks that bob and weave amongst the rogue's gallery of colorful hitmen that comprise the film's cast. The results are as muscular and propulsive as they are archly funny, Lewis hopping and skipping from hard rock to traditional Russian and Japanese musical modes to covers of the West Ham football team's official anthem. Whatever you feel about Bullet Train's very specific wavelength, the score is a joy to listen to and holds your hand through each zany jump in time, tone, and temperament. We were lucky enough to sit down with Lewis for a good long while to break down his score for Bullet Train -- how a long scoring process aided in his sense of experimentation, the pinballing influences behind each of the characters, and how his own history of musical mentors helped prep him for opportunities like this one. (Plus, he helps us break down several of the score's craziest tracks.) Bullet Train is currently playing in theaters, and you can listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Sony Music.
50 minutes | Jul 29, 2022
Joseph Trapanese (Spiderhead)
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 and select commentaries from some of the score's most important tracks. Today, we're talking about Spiderhead, the Netflix Original Movie that premiered last month, starring Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller, directed by Joseph Kosinski (who's already flying high this year with the whirlwind success of Top Gun: Maverick). But where Maverick is all massive, big-screen spectacle and Tom Cruise at the literal height -- or, rather, altitude -- of his powers, Spiderhead feels more akin to the kinds of thinky, patient sci-fi spectacle Kosinski is known for. It's an eerie, unsettling film, with a suitably quirky score to match, courtesy of Kosinski stalwart Joseph Trapanese. The composer is no stranger to this show, having discussed his score for Netflix's fantasy series Shadow and Bone with us, and he's been busy since, taking over for season 2 of Netflix's The Witcher, Prisoners of the Ghostland, Project Power, and more. Now he's returned to the show to discuss the delicate balance of haunting vocals and electronic elements that make up his minimalist score for Spiderhead and how they weave throughout the film's yacht-rock-heavy soundtrack. After the interview, Joe talks us through some track commentaries from the score. You can find Joseph Trapanese at his official website here. Spiderhead is currently streaming on Netflix, and you can listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Maisie Music Publishing.
31 minutes | Jul 11, 2022
The Newton Brothers (Midnight Mass)
While Netflix is firmly in the grips of Stranger Things fever, another, more quietly affecting horror series made waves through the back half of 2021 -- Mike Flanagan's haunting, meditative horror-drama Midnight Mass, about a small, deeply religious seaside town beset by a series of miracles. First, a new, charismatic pastor (Hamish Linklater) takes over the local church; then, a young girl paralyzed all her life suddenly gains the power to walk again. But before long, we learn the deep, dark secrets of Father Paul, as well as the mysterious creature who came with him, and the perverse lengths the town will turn just to get a whiff of its ungodly gifts. Like so many of Flanagan's projects, it's a riveting tale that uses the aesthetics of horror to tell deeply personal, psychological stories. Midnight Mass ruminates on, among other things, the heady mix of grief and faith, the power of religious fervor, and the lengths to which we'll go to stave off the unrelenting specter of death. It's maybe his most personal project -- it's a story he's waited decades to tell -- which makes it fitting that his longtime composers, Andy Grush and Taylor Newton Stewart (otherwise known as The Newton Brothers), came along for the ride, having worked with him on nearly every project since 2013's Oculus. The score is steeped in the show's Catholic milieu, comprised primarily of repurposed hymns, lovingly recreated and accentuated by the Brothers' understanding of Flanagan's mission. And together, we chat about their longstanding relationship with Flanagan, Andy's deep relationship to Catholicism, and how those dynamics informed their approach to crafting a score as significant for its moments of quiet awe as its sense of atmospheric horror. You can find The Newton Brothers at their official website here. Midnight Mass is currently streaming on Netflix. You can also listen to the score for Midnight Mass on your preferred music streaming service (or vinyl!) courtesy of Waxwork Records.
36 minutes | Jun 19, 2022
Ariel Marx (Candy)
On Friday the 13th, 1980, humble housewife Candy Montgomery killed her friend Betty Gore with an axe, slashing her 41 times in her friend's home. The resulting case was a lurid tale of infidelity, suburban malaise, and bizarre self-defense claims (which actually got Candy acquitted). It's the framework for Hulu's latest limited series based on a true crime sensation, Candy, a five-part miniseries that ran earlier this month starring Jessica Biel as Candy and Melanie Lynskey as Betty. Conceived by showrunner Robin Veith, Candy plants us firmly in the low-key terror and isolation of suburban housewifedom, with both Biel and Lynskey's characters bristling against the deadening monotony of the middle-class American Dream, especially for women who've been told to aspire to that existence their whole lives. Jabbing at the viewer's subconscious throughout all five episodes is the tense, discomforting score courtesy of composer and instrumentalist Ariel Marx. A quickly rising star thanks to tense scores in works like HBO's The Tale and the 2021 cringe comedy classic Shiva Baby, Marx's scores are punctuated with atonal, textured strings and woodwinds, constantly clawing at the carpeted edges of the subconscious to see what lies beneath. For Candy, Marx's killer command of unease is in full force, from the helter-skelter back and forth between piano and string in the eerie title sequence to the droning synths and electronic elements that spike through the veneer of normalcy Candy has set up for herself. Marx sat down with me the week of Candy's airing to discuss her history as an instrumentalist and her love of strings. But most importantly, we break down the fundamental components of the "oppressive sameness" of Candy's spine-tingling score. You can find Ariel Marx at her official website here. You can watch all five episodes of Candy on Hulu. You can also listen to the score for Candy on your preferred music streaming service.
41 minutes | May 13, 2022
Karl Frid (Pleasure)
Films about sex are rare, films about porn even rarer. And when they do arrive, more often than not they're one-handed, moralistic tales of the subjugation and exploitation women experience in the porn industry. Ninja Thyberg's Pleasure, which we reviewed out of Sundance 2021 and is hitting wide release in America today, is more nuanced and complicated than that. Following a newly-arrived transplant from Sweden named Jessica (Sofia Kappel), who's landed in LA to break into porn, Pleasure refreshes by viewing this star-is-born narrative through the female gaze, and a surprising frankness about the need for consent and the complex power dynamics that happen for women in porn. Yes, there are the leering, predatory men for whom Thyberg's camera acts as their eye, gazing upon Jessica (who enters the industry under the nom de plume Bella Cherry) with all the ravenous hunger of the Big Bad Wolf. But as she learns more about her boundaries (and which ones she'll have to break to make it), Thyberg allows Bella to find a sense of power and assertiveness from time to time. Rather than vilifying or valorizing the adult film industry, Pleasure simply becomes a frank, dreamlike character study of how one woman navigates it, and finds her own avenues for pleasure and confidence even as it threatens to consume her. Aiding that is the idiosyncratic score from Swedish composer Karl Frid, one half of the fraternal duo Frid & Frid with his brother Par. An experienced hand at Swedish film and television, Frid takes to this score with remarkable grace and inventiveness, charting Bella's voice between the twin poles of sacred opera and head-banging hip hop -- two contrasting sounds that operate as distinct expressions of Bella's own voice and confidence, intertwining in some of the film's most eye-opening moments. Centering female voices in the score, whether through soprano Caroline Gentele's operatic tones, or rapper-singer Mapei's aggressive, empowering lyrics, helps craft a musical universe within Bella's psyche, as well as the complex, morally grey universe of Pleasure. Frid sat down with me to talk about how he was introduced to the project, finding that balance between the film's complex, contrasting tones, and locking down the spiritual narration of Bella's journey through the twin voices of the music. You can find Frid & Frid at their official website here. Pleasure comes to theaters May 13th. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Frid & Frid and Sony Music.
37 minutes | May 9, 2022
Hesham Nazih (Moon Knight)
One of the most heartening things about Disney+'s run of Marvel TV shows is that they seem to be an interesting staging ground for new ideas, the exploration of new communities, and -- most importantly for our interests -- new artists to reach broader audiences. That's certainly the case with Marvel's latest series in the MCU, Moon Knight, which sees Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Steven Grant, a pair of dissociative identities sharing the same body, which also happens to be able to summon the spirit of the Egyptian god Khonsu and turn them into the avenging superhero Moon Knight. The series itself is a brisk, fun Indiana Jones-type adventure, wafting between breezy action sequences and more sobering explorations of the trauma of mental illness, child abuse, and more. But given its Egyptian setting, it's heartening that the vast majority of the talent both in front of and behind the camera are Egyptian, from its director Mohamed Diab to composer Hesham Nazih, a veteran film and TV composer with reams of accolades and more than twenty years of experience in Egyptian media. For Moon Knight (his first English-language score), Nazih crafts a score that is both indebted to the gee-whiz adventure influences of the show itself and the cultural markers and musical identity of Egypt itself, combining the two into a unique musical synthesis that echoes the balancing scales Marc and Steven have to achieve in order to make themselves whole. Egyptian instruments combing with Arabic-language choir and the bombastic, brass-heavy sweep we expect of superhero blockbusters to create something that feels wholly new, while avoiding the cliches of most Western scores set in the Middle East and North Africa. For the podcast, Hesham was lovely enough to sit down with me (on the first day of Eid al-Fitr!) to talk about transitioning his robust skill set to Marvel, weaving his own influences within the score while avoiding stereotype, and how his score fits in with the show's use of mahgraganat (a budding genre of exciting, fist-pumping protest music making waves in Cairo the last few years) in the musical fabric of the show. The entire first (and only?) season of Moon Knight is currently streaming on Disney+. You can also listen to the score for Moon Knight on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Marvel Music.
33 minutes | Apr 29, 2022
Son Lux's Rafiq Bhatia (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
How do you put music to the multiverse? Especially when the multiverse includes sights as strange as rocks with googly eyes, people with hot dog fingers, and heads exploding into glitter? That's the challenge experimental band Son Lux faced when composing the whirlwind, two-hour score for Daniels' latest film, Everything Everywhere All at Once. Building on the devil-may-care absurdity of their previous works, like the music video for "Turn Down for What?" and 2016's farting-corpse buddy movie Swiss Army Man, Daniels starts their newest work simply -- a middle-aged Chinese immigrant (Michelle Yeoh) stresses about losing her laundromat and pleasing her visiting father. But before long, her distant husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) informs her that he's from a different universe, and she's the only person who's able to stop a chaotic force of destruction from destroying the multiverse as we know it. Kung fu fights, slapstick, and drama-filled confessions follow, spanning a million different genres, modes, and senses of humor. Keeping up with such whirlwind intensity in the score is no small feat, but it's one that LA-based experimental trio Son Lux leaned into with aplomb in their first feature film score as a collective. Comprised of founder Ryan Lott and collaborators Ian Chang and Rafiq Bhatia, Lux's sound to date feels airy, ambient and cosmic, albums like their Tomorrows trilogy already capturing some of the kaleidoscopic grandeur Everything Everywhere needs. And indeed, the score itself matches that dynamism, as zany and nostalgic as it needs to be in the needs of the moment while still maintaining a cohesive throughline. Now that the film's been out for a few weeks, I sat down with Son Lux member Rafiq Bhatia to talk about the film's soundtrack, Daniels' unusual collaborative processes, and the challenges of building a house around a single chair... metaphorically, of course. You can find Son Lux at their official website here. Everything Everywhere All at Once is currently playing in theaters everywhere. You can also listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of A24 Music.
28 minutes | Apr 9, 2022
Theodore Shapiro (Severance)
In a world where so many people have learned to start working from home the last couple of years(and many still do), the phrase "don't take your work home with you" has become ever more dubious. But what if you could really leave it all at the office -- not just your work, but your memories of doing that work? That's the eerie premise of Apple TV+'s latest series, Severance, a Ben Stiller-directed corporate satire that imagines a company that allows its employees to undergo an experimental procedure to cleave their memories in twain. One of you, the "Innie," only remembers the time you spent in the office; the other, the "Outie," gets to live their off-work hours blissfully unaware of the stressors or responsibilities of the job. It sounds nice in practice, but for the Innies who actually work for the Lumon Corporation, it's a special kind of existentialist hell, where all they know are the four white, antiseptic walls of their office. And it's a place that Mark (Adam Scott) and the other three members of his department will have to navigate, as they work to figure out what their real lives are like and discern what they're actually doing for Lumon. Severance is easily one of the best shows of the year thus far, flitting effortlessly in tone between horror and workplace comedy and haunting character drama thanks to Stiller's stylish, unpredictable direction. Aiding the feeling of banal claustrophobia the show engenders is the score by Emmy-nominated composer Theodore Shapiro, who's scored just about every comedy you ever loved in the 2000s (13 Going on 30, Dodgeball, Jennifer's Body). But his versatility really shines through in his work with Stiller, especially here, where the existential emptiness of Lumon, and the Innies' lives in it, is personified by ominous descending piano melodies and mind-mending instrumental distortions. I was lucky enough to sit down with Teddy to talk about Severance, the challenges of TV scoring, stepping out of the comedy wheelhouse, and finding the right, restrained sound for such a complicated show. You can find Ted Shapiro at his official website here. Severance is currently streaming on Apple TV+. You can also listen to the score for Severance on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Endeavor Content. qcLMwdMXGXnrdWZvMjqB
37 minutes | Mar 25, 2022
Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow (Archive 81)
It's safe to say that the world of film music, especially modern film music, owes a lot to Portishead's Geoff Barrow. In a large way, that's due to the instrumentalist and musician's founding of indie label Invada Records in 2001, which placed an early focus on hip hop and experimental acts before pinning down a unique emphasis on releasing film scores. But he's a prolific film and TV composer in his own right, as he paired with composer Ben Salisbury in the early 2010s for an abortive score to the 2012 film Dredd, which they later released as DROKK. From there, they sailed into an easy partnership with filmmaker Alex Garland, for whom they've scored all of his works since, from Ex Machina to Annihilation to Devs -- sneaky, unsettling scores that use found sounds and minimal instrumentation to convey the alienness of Garland's worlds. It's an approach that works nicely for one of Netflix's newest shows (now a one-season wonder thanks to the recent news of its abrupt cancellation), the supernatural head-scratcher Archive 81, about an archivist (Mamoudou Athie) tasked with restoring a cache of mysterious documentary footage from a burned-down New York apartment building known as the Visser. From there, he finds himself lured into the viewpoint of deceased filmmaker Melody (Dina Shihabi) and the secrets she unearthed during her investigation. Timelines merge, prophecies are unraveled, and the true nature of the Visser's fate comes into sharp relief. For the podcast, Ben and Geoff were kind enough to talk to me about the origins of their years-long partnership, Geoff's work with Invada Records, and the painstaking but rewarding process for carving out the analog atmosphere of Archive 81. You can find Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow at their official websites. Archive 81 is currently streaming on Netflix. You can also listen to the score for Archive 81 on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Invada Records and Lakeshore Records.
32 minutes | Mar 12, 2022
Rob Simonsen (The Adam Project)
What would you do if you could go back in time and talk to your 12-year-old self? What if you could also see a dead loved one again? For all the whiz-bang action-adventure stuffed into Ryan Reynolds' latest film, The Adam Project, composer Rob Simonsen's score never strays far from those sentimental questions. The next collaboration between Reynolds and director Shawn Levy after last year's Free Guy, The Adam Project follows a time-traveling fighter pilot who flees his dystopian past to crash-land in 2022. And who should he meet but his younger, 12-year-old self, played by newcomer Walker Scobell, who tags along with him on an adventure not just to shake off bad guys from the future who are set to chase him down, but to reconnect with his long-dead father (Mark Ruffalo) and stop time travel altogether. It's a film steeped in the nostalgia-friendly Amblin vibes of the 1980s, evoking everything from Flight of the Navigator to E.T., and that's a throughline Simonsen threads expertly. His is a deceptively simple score, pairing crackling, electronic synths for the high-tech action sequences with the tranquil piano and orchestra of its primary theme -- keeping the CG spectacle grounded in the achingly personal. Easy work for Simonsen, who's proven himself a versatile composer since he came up in the early 2010s with indies like The Spectacular Now and Fast Color. And earlier this year, he primed the pump for the nostalgia well with his score for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Now, he speaks to me on the podcast today about his early work as a composer, what lessons he learned from mentor Mychael Danna, and the myriad ways COVID complicated the process of scoring this film. You can find Rob Simonsen at his official website here. The Adam Project is currently streaming on Netflix. You can also listen to the score for The Adam Project on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Sony Soundtracks.
33 minutes | Feb 26, 2022
Nathan Halpern (Catch the Fair One)
Months after he came on the show last (for the COVID documentary In the Same Breath), composer Nathan Halpern has been extremely busy. Just a few weeks ago, he scored three films that premiered at this year's Sundance film festival: the nail-biting thrillers Watcher and Emily the Criminal, as well as the documentary short The Martha Mitchell Effect. But this week, we're talking about a film that premiered at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, one of the best, most under-discussed films of 2021: Josef Wladyka's Catch the Fair One. A pulse-pounding thriller with an activist heart, the film follows a Native American ex-boxer named Kaylee (played by real-life welterweight champion Kali Reis, in an icily intense performance), who pours every inch of herself into trying to track down the people responsible for her younger sister's disappearance. The issue of Native erasure is nothing new, and one that Wladyka and Reis (who collaborated with him on the story) took extremely seriously. Catch the Fair One works like gangbusters as a cold, uncompromising action thriller, to be sure, but it also carries the dehumanizing weight of the past -- a woman sacrificing everything human about her to right a wrong that further Others people like her. Gliding effortlessly along Wladyka's anguished brutality is Nathan Halpern's score, bringing his signature love of drones and tones to the film's atmosphere. Like the ice-blue cinematography and underplayed intensity of its lead, Halpern's work immerses us in the cruelty of Kaylee's world through haunting, hollow electronic sounds and lonely solo brass. Rumbling bass and screeching static punctuate the moments when Kaylee is most put through her paces, leavening only to remind us of the bleak tragedy of her journey. Joining us again on the pod, Nathan talks about how he maintains such a prolific workflow, honoring the Native cultural markers of the story, and worming his way into the psychology of a protagonist that has nothing to lose. You can find Nathan Halpern at his official website here. Catch the Fair One is currently playing in select theaters and on VOD. You can also listen to the score for Catch the Fair One on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Lakeshore Records.
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