What are your earliest memories of any music?
My mother singing old showtunes while vacuuming the living room floor. The thing that changed my life though, was the first time I heard The Beatles.
Was writing music for film, something you set out to do, or did you become involved in it as your musical career progressed?
It was completely accidental. I was working on a pop music album, and the producer handed the bed tracks to a director making her first film. That was my start.
One of your most recent assignments has been, OUR HOUSE. How did you become involved on this?
Most of the films these days have come to me through my rep as The Witch composer.
THE VVITCH is a very atmospheric score, it adds so much to the storyline and images, what size orchestra did you use for the score?
It was mostly performed by myself. We did add a couple of musicians: Ben Grossman on hurdy gurdy and Jouhikko (an ancient Finnish bowed instrument) and Katherine Hill on Viola de Gamba, Nyckelharpa and voice. We also used The Element Choir (12 singers) for the choir stuff. Most of the score was myself playing Swedish Nyckelharpa and cello.
Do you perform on any of your film scores?
Usually, yes. It’s more programming, like most composers these days. Occasionally I’ll pull out an acoustic instrument to add to the score. On bigger budget projects, I’ll bring in more players. The add so much to the overall quality.
When you were working on THE WITCH did the director have any input into what style was needed or where music should be employed?
Very much so. He had a very clear idea of what he wanted musically and is mostly responsible for the overall tone of the score.
How much time were you given to score THE VVITCH and how many times did you see the movie before getting any fixed ideas about where music should be placed?
Just a couple of times before I started to work on it. I spent about 2 months on it, but kept coming back to it for months after, because Rob Eggers (director) is a real tweaker.
What musical education did you receive?
Two years studying jazz and orchestration.
What is your preferred method of working out your musical ideas, do you use a keyboard, or a more technical approach?
Keyboard, as it is with almost every film composer out there. Although, I was originally a guitarist and keyboard did not come easy!
Using THE VVITCH as an example, what percentage of the music was performed by synthesiser or electronic instrumentation?
It was all acoustic instruments. Most were samples that I made though, because I needed a lot of flexibility with the director.
Did you have any involvement with the selection of cues that went onto the soundtrack release of THE VVITCH?
Yes, I made those decisions.
When you score a movie do you retain ownership of the music or does it become the property of the film company?
Usually, copyright to the music is relinquished to the producer. Often, I can retain at least 50% of the publishing. But the producer will have the control.
What would you say is the purpose or the job of music in film?
To express the internal world of the characters through music.
You have worked on shorts, documentaries, TV series and motion pictures, what would you identify as the differences between scoring a movie and a TV series?
There’s more time with feature. No time with a series. You have to bang it off very quickly then immediately move on to the next episode.
How much of an impact does the budget or lack of it have upon a score for a movie?
It’s whether or not you can have live players, or a live orchestra. That can have an enormous impact on the expressiveness of the music.
When you are writing for a movie, do you like to start with a central theme and then build the remainder of the score around this, or do you write smaller cues and then set about creating a theme or core sound from these?
Usually I don’t start with a theme – though I should! I just write and write and eventually I find the theme. So, I guess it’s the latter.
When scoring a TV series, are the episodes scored in the order that they will be aired, and do you repeat any of the music, for example would you re-use a cue from episode 3 in episode 9?
Yes, absolutely. Although often I will have to alter it to fit.