De Wolfe Music became the originator of what has become known as library music. De Wolfe Music was established by Meyer de Wolfe in 1909 and began its recorded library in 1927 with the advent of ‘Talkies’. The library consists of over 80,000 tracks, all pre-cleared for licensing and synchronisation. They have been used in thousands of productions including Monty Python, Emmanuelle, Dawn of the Dead, American Gangster, and Doctor Who. Well known theme tunes include Van der Valk and Roobarb. De Wolfe built and owns Angel Recording Studios, a recording and mixing complex situated at The Angel, Islington, London. Artists who have recorded there in recent years include Adele, Snow Patrol, Cee Lo Green, Labrinth, George Fenton (BAFTA and EMMY winner for his scores to the BBC’s The Blue Planet and Planet Earth), Ian Brown, Elbow, The Doves, The Feeling, and Kaiser Chiefs. Its specially composed department is called Inter Angel. De Wolfe is still a family-run company.
Talking to Warren de Wolfe of De Wolfe Music
Q: What made De Wolfe decide to release a series of film music/library cues on its own label and make them commercially available?
We’ve always had interest in our soundtracks library and in the past we’ve licensed out various tracks for compilations – after the success of things like DAWN OF THE DEAD and BITE HARD we thought we’d do it more seriously. We simply didn’t have the time or resources to do it ourselves until now.
Q: WITCHFINDER GENERAL is a much requested film score and one that you will be issuing soon. Why have De Wolfe waited so long to release this score, I know that a number of record labels have approached you for this soundtrack. Was there any reason why De Wolfe were reluctant to licence it?
Well, no specific reason really, except perhaps that the technology available to us today allows us to re-master and edit lengthy and complex soundtracks fairly easily in-house, where only a few years ago it would not have been cost effective, given the limited number that we’re planning to press – it’s a pretty ‘niche’ market, as you know.
Q: De Wolfe is a well respected name within the music industry, approx: how many pieces of music do you have within your library?
Roughly 90,000. One of the biggest, if not the biggest independent library in the world. Most of them are searchable from dewolfemusic where production professionals can audition and download whatever tracks they need.
Q: Going back to WITCHFINDER GENERAL, we are told that Paul Ferris composed this music initially for the De Wolfe library. Is this the case or did the composer write the score for the movie and then De Wolfe have the publishing rights?
We were actually approached by the producers behind WITCHFINDER GENERAL to specially compose the music – Paul Ferris was working with us at the time as a composer and so the soundtrack was born. We subsequently used tracks from the film in our production library, as we owned the rights from the very beginning.
Q: There are a number of Paul Ferris compositions at De Wolfe. Are you thinking of releasing any of these – I am thinking of his score for THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR?
Unfortunately BLOOD BEAST TERROR is unlikely to get released in the near future. Some masters have faired better than others over time and the work it would take to remaster some of them to a sufficient level is a little beyond our capabilities at the moment. But, in the future… who knows? We plan to release many more soundtracks before that specific one anyway.
Q: Another soundtrack that is owned by De Wolfe is THE CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR by composer Peter Knight, in fact this was issued on a Library LP record as the B side to WITCHFINDER GENERAL. Is there any possibility of this being issued?
…and that’s one that we will be releasing, yes. Again, we’re looking at a fairly significant time period allowing us to get it prepared – the series is really a side project to our main production music business, so I’m afraid the commercial masters tend to get left to down time. But, bear with us, and it will appear!
Q: How many CDs are there or will there be in the De Wolfe series?
It’s very hard to say – we’ll keep doing them as long as there is an interest and our costs and time are covered. I’d like to say there’ll be many, as we have the tracks available. We are setting up various communication channels and websites for us to assess future releases – as long as chatter stays up the releases will keep on coming.
Q: I understand you have had problems getting a distributor – was this just in the UK or worldwide?
Yes, our previous distribution company went into receivership while our stock of BITE HARDER – the first release in the series – was still at the warehouse! Luckily they were kind enough to get them sent to us here at the office. A lot of people weren’t that lucky. And yes, it did effect distribution but only for UK and Europe – we don’t have anything set up in the US as yet. I believe a lot of the Europe-bound copies of BITE HARDER actually went out, so hopefully there are some copies over there in record shops!
While it was a bit of a shocker in the short run, and it meant that a lot of our back orders were delayed, it all seems to be back on track now having just re-signed to a different company. So, apologies to all those people waiting for their copies – they are on the way!
In between the two contracts we’ve been attempting small-scale distribution ourselves, which wouldn’t have been possible without our friends at moviegrooves who are selling ‘Bite Harder’s for us until we get distribution sorted out.
Q: Within your music library there are a number of tracks by composer Ivor Slaney. He worked on numerous early Hammer films – will we see a compilation of his work at all?
Unfortunately Ivor’s work for Hammer is not owned by us but we do have a huge amount of his work for TV shows and films from the late fifties, sixties and seventies. We will probably put together a compilation of his more famous tracks including things like cues from THE DOUBLE DECKERS and some of his other horror film scores.
Q: Do you carry out all the restoration and re-mastering in house at De Wolfe?
We do indeed.
Q: How long is the score for WITCHFINDER GENERAL – I know that the LP was quite short, but when I watched the movie and looked at the cue sheets from PRS there seems to be about 45 minutes of music. I also am told that some cues were the work of Kenneth V. Jones – will these be included on the compact disc alongside the Ferris score?
We don’t have the rights to the Kenneth V. Jones pieces I’m afraid, only the Paul Ferris ones, so the release may be bundled with another, more obscure horror soundtrack, as I think the Witchfinder soundtrack itself isn’t even up to 40 minutes. We are still deciding how to do that one.
Q: Can you tell us what other scores might be up for release on De Wolfe?
EMMANUELLE is definitely one we’d like to do in the future, after Lily Allen helped raised it’s profile a bit by sampling the piano from it in her recent single ‘The Littlest Things’.
We’re currently putting the finishing touches to the ‘Monty Python Flying Circus’ compilation, and we also expect to do a separate dedicated release for ‘Knights of the Holy Grail’ as well in the future.
There’s obviously ‘Kung Fu Supersounds’ coming up after ‘Bite Harder’. That’s got 43 tracks of cues and themes from DIRTY HO (1979), THE FOUR ASSASSINS (1975), SHAOLIN MANTIS (1978), RETURN TO THE 36TH CHAMBER (1980), and lots of other classic Shaw Brothers films. It’s going to be an epic album!
We will be setting up a website for information of future releases, and hopefully a newsletter – but if anyone would like further info in the meantime, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll stick you on our brand new mailing list.