Morpheus

The new year has been extremely busy. We’ve worked on five Superbowl spots and I have to admit that it will be nice once the Superbowl is over. It’s so much work, but it’s also FUN! It’s not every day we get to work with people that make you think Pavarotti has been reincarnated.
It’s rewarding when you see it all come together, like in this hilarious Kia spot we did, featuring Morpheus with unexpected talents:


Coherence gets distribution

After a year of hush hush, I can finally tell you that the film I scored last year is called Coherence and is directed by James Ward Byrkit. It’s been touring the festival circuit over the last few months, receiving multiple awards and praise (someone even put it alongside Gravity and The Congress as one of the three best sci-fi movies in the last few years). And recently it got picked up by Oscilloscope Laboratories for distribution. They’re aiming for a 2014 theatrical release, which is beyond exciting for me as none of my previous films have had that.

Here’s a little teaser for you:


Ace Hardware Commercial

Sometimes scoring a commercial is pretty straight forward. We do music research to find the right style/instrumentation/energy level and so on. Then we write original tracks (usually 5-10 composers per round). And if we’re lucky, the client picks a track out of that first batch that we finesse and everyone’s happy. Other times it requires much more exploration to find the right track. This Ace Hardware spot is an example of that. We started out with songs based on the idea that it would help tell the story better as there was no voice over in the spot. Here’s my first submission:

This didn’t feel quite right. They did like a couple of the other songs that were submitted, but they decided to keep exploring other options. In the end, they picked my orchestral track which sounds like this:


Oddbods And Naked Men

Sharing time! Here’s one of the Oddbods videos I scored:

I did the music for 26 of these little episodes. After several months of working on this I developed a lot of affection for these little characters. I also overdosed slightly on that theme. The client wanted a theme that sticks in your head. Be careful what you wish for!

Also I scored two Norwegian spots. My apologies to those who got scared watching this spot:

You can check out another fun spot I got to work on here. Beware of naked men humping doors!


The Attic Door Gets Distribution

Good news: The Attic Door, a movie I scored a few years back is now available online through an acquisition deal with prestigious indie distributor, New Video This award-winning film was a labor of love from all parties involved and director Danny Daneau deserves all the attention he can get. His strong vision and high taste level in combination with a very talented cast and crew made this a beautiful little film. Watching The Attic Door is definitely gonna be worth your while.

Check out the trailer:


Oddbods

I’ve started a new project! This one is an animated new media project called Oddbods and the style is pretty much the polar opposite from the feature I just finished. It’s very thematic, happy and straight up fun! I love that. That I can go from dark and electronic one day to upbeat and organic the next. That’s why my job never gets boring. And that’s also why I have such a hard time pinpointing what my main “sound” is when people ask. It really just depends on what day of the week it is. Especially when you do a lot of commercials you have to be able to wear all kinds of hats. And whether it’s a bouncy ukulele track or a gritty electronic track I enjoy writing it just the same as long as it sounds good.


Premiere

Friday night I went to the premiere of the movie that I just finished. I love watching a movie with the cast and crew. You can feel the excitement in the room – everyone’s supportive of each other and slightly nervous about their own performance. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the actors who only get to see bits and pieces in the ADR sessions before the screening. I’ve seen the movie a lot of times, but this was the first time with the final sound mix. Besides, it’s always slightly nerve wrecking to listen to the score on a different set of speakers than the ones I’m used to. I mixed most of the tracks myself, with the exception of four tracks that one of my coworkers, Mike Passero did. I usually prefer having other people mix for me so that I can focus everything on the writing. Same thing goes for score preparation, orchestration and so on. The reason why I ended up doing most of it myself was mainly because of the nature of the score. You can farm out more work if it’s a thematic orchestral score. With this, all the music was in my head and hands and getting someone else to “orchestrate” the cues would’ve taken longer than just doing it myself. Secondly, after working with commercials for several years, I’ve gotten used to working in a team and having everything I write approved before we send it out the door. Collaboration is great and you grow a lot from it. But it also felt important to prove to myself that I can stand on my own two feet. So watching the movie on the big screen and hearing the full score on Friday without wanting to go hide somewhere felt really good!

This was also a rare opportunity for me to work with a couple of fellow Scandinavians. The lead actor, Emily Foxler is Swedish and the producer, Lene Bausager is Danish. I’d love it if we could do a screening in Scandinavia at some point.


Finishing Up The Feature

I’m finishing up my feature film! I’m writing this as I’m printing the stems (which, by the way is probably the most boring part of the whole process) and will hand over the final mixes this weekend. It’s been a crazy couple of months with lots and lots of work, which makes it feel even more satisfying to be finished. I’ve had the chance to push myself out of my comfort zone writing more experimental and gritty than I have ever done before. It’s been all about creating interesting textures and staying away from the traditional way of scoring. Instead of leaning on themes, I’ve used sounds. There’s birds and sleigh bells, spoken words and heavily processed cellos, tremolo voices and lots of reversed samples. Some of the stuff is straight up weird, but yet effective. I think it captures the confusion and weirdness of the subject matter in the film. There’s a lot of dialog in this film, which has been a different challenge. You don’t want to get in the way, at the same time you don’t want to just find a cool synth sound and hold down a key for 10 minutes. It’s been all about creating and molding sounds, digging out textures and shapes. I had some great help from a couple of LA’s best musicians. I brought in a cello player and a guitarist who are both very experienced in experimental film score. They added the icing on the cake. Wish I could talk more about the film itself, but it’s all a little hush hush at this point. I’ll keep you posted.


New Feature

I got a feature! I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks now and I have lots of music to write still. It’s a psychological thriller so I get to be weird and experimental, which is a refreshing break from the commercial scoring. Most of the time when I write for commercials it needs to be accessible, simple, sellable. I’ve been told to dumb it down sometimes. But for this score I’ve been told to go far out there. To not be afraid of adding more weirdness and intensity. It’s great! I wish I got to hear that more often. So I’m pulling out all kinds of tricks for this one. There are owls and police radios, my office manager’s voice over the intercom at my studio, detuned synths and Norwegian random singing in reverse run through all kinds of filters. And that’s only the beginning. It feels like I’m painting an abstract picture. I know there’s forceful material in there that I’m trying to carve out. That through the cacophony there is a form that makes sense. Or at least is on its way to making sense. It’s going to be a very textural score, located in the space between music and sound design.

The film is directed by James Ward Byrkit, who is one of the creators of the animated film Rango, among other projects.


Live scoring with bass, drums and a TV

It’s been a busy winter and spring. I’ve been stepping in for our creative director here at work, which means I’ve spent a lot more time in sessions and on the phone with composers and clients than what I normally do. It’s left little time for actual writing, but it’s been a great learning experience in regards to leading a room full of people into a musical result. One good example was a jazz campaign that we did for Hyundai. With such amazing musicians in the room, anything is possible and it’s fun to be part of the process of translating the clients’ wishes and ideas into music. Having great musicians of course makes all of that possible. They play to the video. I’d ask them to do something that would underline the little twirl around the logo, f.ex. The next moment they’re placing a trill on it in a way that works both with picture, but also musically. I never stop to be impressed by LA studio musicians. On one of the tracks we brought in an upright bass player and a drummer. They just had a tempo and a lead sheet which just had important scoring moments in it, no chords, nothing. But they did have picture, which ended up being their guide. Within two hours with some trial and error, some direction and lots of creativity, we had a great track for one of the spots. We don’t get to work like that very often, so I really enjoyed it. It’s rewarding to get to write with musicians in the room as opposed to trying to demonstrate something in a synth mockup. Especially when it comes to jazz. Jazz needs people.

We’ve also worked on a bunch of other spots lately, a big campaign for Exxon as well as commercials for Acura Avengers, Home Depot (which happened to be my track), Bon-Ton (got to work with Lisa Loeb on this one, (“You say I only hear what I want to…”) She was very sweet.), Intuit, Helzberg and Dish Network to mention a few…We’ve been pretty swamped.