Welcome to another edition of CS Score! This week we’re interviewing Lili Haydn and Ben Bromfield about their work on the Netflix series Ginny & Georgia and talked to composer Philip Klein about his wonderful music for Wish Dragon. We also take a look at Mondo’s 2XLP for Say Anything …
Let’s get to it!
Announcing our latest batch of CD Club titles: THE MATRIX (The Complete Edition) by Don Davis and PAYCHECK (The Deluxe Edition) by John Powell. Both titles are now available to order below.
— Varèse Sarabande Records (@VareseSarabande) June 11, 2021
— La-La Land Records (@LaLaLandRecords) June 8, 2021
— La-La Land Records (@LaLaLandRecords) June 8, 2021
— Scott Saslow (@Saslow_Scott) June 1, 2021
ARMY OF THE DEAD Original Motion Picture Score 2xLP by @Junkie_XL is available to Pre-Order NOW! Features 180g neon pink and yellow wax, liner notes by director @ZackSnyder, and deluxe packaging with art by @oliverbarrett!
— Waxwork Records (@waxworkrecords) May 28, 2021
Back in stock! POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE (3CD) and THE SECRET OF NIMH https://t.co/YFQ8wlDAdz
— Intrada (@IntradaCDs) June 10, 2021
Back in stock STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME https://t.co/YFQ8wlDAdz
— Intrada (@IntradaCDs) June 3, 2021
Expanded Motion Picture Soundtrack 2XLP
Mondo and Vinyl Films have released an amazing 2XLP for the soundtrack to Say Anything …, the popular 1989 dramedy from director Cameron Crowe. The new set comes with plenty of goodies for fans of the film (and soundtrack).
Here’s the official soundtrack description: Mondo and Vinyl Films are proud to present the premiere, expanded edition of the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe’s essential, genre defining 1989 debut film Say Anything…
Containing the original soundtrack album, plus and entire additional disc of music – featuring demos written and recorded for the film, previously unreleased in any form – including long-lost demo recordings of the “Joe Lies” songs, as performed by Nancy Wilson for Lili Taylor.
Featuring a 16-page booklet, containing never before seen photos and liner notes with the film’s writer/director Cameron Crowe, stars John Cusack, Ione Sky, Lili Taylor and composer Nancy Wilson and more!
1. All For Love – Nancy Wilson
2. Cult of Personality (Live) – Living Colour
3. One Big Rush – Joe Satriani
4. You Want It – Cheap Trick
5. Taste The Pain – Red Hot Chili Peppers
1. In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel
2. Stripped (Live) – Depeche Mode
3. Skankin’ To The Beat – Fishbone
4. Within’ Your Reach – The Replacements
5. Keeping The Dream Alive – Freiheit
Side Three – Bonus Tracks
1. Take Five – Dave Brubeck
2. Toy Box – Soundgarden
3. Back In The Saddle – Aerosmith
4. Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) – Looking Glass
5. Turn The Other Way – Fishbone
Side Four – Bonus Tracks and Demos
1. A Girl Like You (Demo) – The Smithereens
2. Sit Down I think I Love You (Demo) – Nancy Wilson
3. The Joe Lies Demos – Nancy Wilson
i. He Hurts Me
ii. That Will Never Be Me
iii. He Cries
iv. Man Child
4. In Your Eyes (Live) – Peter Gabriel
Lili Haydn and Ben Bromfield Interview
Ginny & Georgia
This past February, Netflix crowned the new “Queens of Streaming” as the critically-acclaimed Ginny & Georgia overthrew Tiger King’s throne as the longest-running #1 show on Netflix!
This underdog champion show was scored by composing duo Lili Haydn & Ben Bromfield who approached writing the music for the series from deeply personal connections.
The two artists sat in with the band at a mutual friend’s gig (composer Tree Adams) where they got to know each other. They stayed in touch, checking in with each other every now and then, and then the right project to collaborate on came along – Ginny & Georgia. The two composed the score together, and the soundtrack was very well received for its atypical tone, lush vocal techniques, and pop elements.
As part of the creative team for Ginny & Georgia comprised of almost entirely women, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and violinist Lili Hayden connected with the very intimate and vulnerable female experiences presented by the show’s titular characters. Taking these raw, emotional elements and applying her voice and violin to the score, Lili became both the literal and figurative female inner voice of the show.
Two-time BMI Award-winning composer Ben Bromfield had a much different (albeit no-less-important) connection to the series. It turns out that show creator Sarah Lampert and Ben are very close friends that go back all the way to their high school days where many of the dramatizations, characters, and locations in Ginny & Georgia were lifted and adapted from things that actually happened! Ben remembers many of the events in Ginny’s journey in the show fondly, which made scoring the show a fun and quirky experience that added an extra layer of personal connection to the score.
Ames: Thanks Lili and Ben for sitting down and talking to us about this project. What drew each of you to Ginny and Georgia? Ben, you said you were familiar with Sarah Lampert, the show creator, and also wanted to work with Lili for some time, right?
Ben: Right. I think part of the genesis is that the show creator is an old friend of mine. The project was sort of personal to me as well because Sarah and I grew up in the same hometown, which the town of Wellsbury is based on. So that was kind of fun. I had spoken to her about it early on in the process. Before she had sold the show, I had an opportunity to read the script just because we were friends — that was years ago, but I had always thought it would be great to do with a female voice as a primary scoring instrument, and Lily and I, as you mentioned, had been looking for a project to work on together. And she is just a great composer who uses her voice as a scoring instrument, which is a really powerful part of the score. It was evident from the script that using her voice would be a good idea, which — it’s pretty rare to have scoring ideas just from reading a script for a new show, but this was one for me that made a lot of sense.
Lili: For me, I was thrilled to find a great project with Ben, but also what I loved about this is, not only was it a passion project for Sarah, but most of the creative team is women. It was really great to see a show that was so much fun, and especially now that we know it’s so popular, that it comes from the female perspective. That’s not very common these days — it’s getting more so, but it’s really fun.
I also have an amazing relationship with my mom, so, obviously there’s the Ginny & Georgia relationship was more complicated, but it was really great to step into a feminine perspective. I think that allowed us to go to deeper and more intimate places in the score than it would have been had it just been a regular show.
Ames: There’s so much happening in the score — Lili’s vocals, electronic rhythms and different instruments. There’s even some Ocean’s 11 sounding music in the “Principal For a Day” track. All that stuff is really fun. How did you guys ultimately decide on the musical identity for the show? Because I know you wanted that female presence, but there’s also a lot of different ideas bouncing around on the soundtrack.
Lili: I love that you mentioned that because that’s exactly what Ben and I have been talking about in terms of why we feel particularly proud of this is that there are so many different genres in the show. It’s not just comedy. It’s not just a drama. It’s all of these elements and that are very organically inside the mind of the show’s creator. And so, we had to get inside her mind and the way we ultimately found it was through a lot of trial and error. We were proud of our first offering, but it didn’t quite hit the nail on the head. We had to go back to the drawing board and incorporate other sounds. And so, I think what I love about this is that we were able to get that playfulness and still have that darkness; and get the ominousness where the plot turns, but it also had to be really deep and soulful. I really do feel like we created the sound of the show that really is unique to this particular show. That’s something you hope to hit on any project, but we were really proud of this.
Ben: I think just to add to that, there’s the dramatic elements of the show itself that were interesting to hit and having to do like a horror thing; and then there’s musical genres that we have to blend together. Georgia being from the south, there was some real twangy stuff and Lili’s violin playing, or fiddle playing. Then there’s even a sort of modern style that’s used to underscore the high school students — Maxine [Baker] and her lighter drama. Maxine’s an interesting character to score because she’s more bouncy and fun on the side, and so we had to really delve into something completely different for her, whereas the main characters have a lot of soul and depth to them and darkness.
Ames: Were there opportunities for either of you to experiment with new styles or step outside your comfort zone a little?
Lili: Absolutely. When we first came on, we really had to get into to the brain of the show’s creator. She really had such a vision. Once we spent time with her musical taste, we started pulling a lot of sounds a lot of the hip hop and pop producers are using. That was really the heartbeat of the show’s creator. So, that was something that we, in addition to the organic instruments … we love the juxtaposition between the organic and the electronic. It’s definitely given us a chance to pull in some sounds that are special to this score.
Ben: Yeah, I bought my first drum machine on this project, which was great. It was also my first digital synthesizer. We both use a lot of very powerful plugins in our digital audio workstations. I bought a digital synth drum machine called the OP1, which is capable of being very bizarre and it’s kind of niche as opposed to — most of the synths that I bought before were very versatile and there’s a lot of stuff you can do with them, but there was strength, at least from the synthesizer side on this project, in using synths that were more niche and also more limited and more specific to pop music. So, that was a new sound for me.
Lili: We used a lot of that for sound design as well. So, when the drama does come in it feels really organic; and we can really feel the depth of the experience. So, the analog synths really help to deepen that experience.
Ben: Between the two of us, we covered a lot of bases. We’re both multi-instrumentalists on different instruments.
Ames: Do each of you enjoy tackling projects like this that force you to step outside your comfort zone a little bit?
Lili: Oh, sure. It’s never comfortable. You go into every project like, “Oh my God! What am I going to do?” I mean, I don’t know if you feel that way Ben, but I mean you get ideas and, but you really just gotta be a blank page. We’re here to serve the director’s vision.
Ben: I’ve heard tell of jobs where directors, producers are big fans of the musical artists and they hire them specifically and just kind of want them to do their thing. I have not experienced that. For me, it’s always been a learn the director, learn the producer — learn how to do what they want and then just become as efficient as possible at doing it because it’s a hard job and you’re going to have to probably do multiple versions of it, whatever it is, to get it to really suit their vision.
Lili: I was going to say, it’s sort of like walking into a new relationship. It really is just like when you get together with somebody and you’ve got your history and everything, but you really don’t know where your heart and this other person are going to take you; and if you want your relationship to work, you’ve gotta be willing to go places; and it’s really about having an open heart. I think that’s what we both try to do when we attempt a new project. So, this really did require us to prostrate ourselves to really achieve the vision of the show creator, which thankfully we did. So really thrilled to be a part of that process. I definitely grew on this project, for sure.
Ben: I think that one of the things personally that I love about this particular aspect of making music, this career that we’re in, is that it forces you to grow; and forces you to listen to new things and learn new things. We’re all constant students, but the way that scoring pulls me, pulls music out of me and pulls me into different worlds. I love it for that. Sometimes I hate that it’s hard in that sort of petty frustrated way. Ultimately, I love that about it.
Ames: The series has already been renewed for a second season. Are there ideas that you guys are excited to explore in future episodes?
Lili: Absolutely! Obviously, we’ve got to read the script and see the action and see where she takes us. But I think we want to get deeper into the sounds; and make sure that the sound that we created from the start develops and gets more intense when it needs to and has moments of levity when it needs to. It seems like it’s gonna get a little dark.
Ben: Yeah, given the way that Season 1 ended, we definitely did move more into a darker electronica space in Episode 10 as the characters sort of both turn. So, I’m excited to do more of that in Season 2, without having been informed about exactly what’s happening, it seems like that’s where we’re going. Darker and more electronic in tone is my short answer for what I’m excited to continue exploring in Season 2.
Lili: The characters are both entering into a new chapter, obviously; and a new sort of awakening of who they really are and their true essences. For me, in addition to exploring new sounds, I’m excited to get deeper emotionally with the characters. That’ll require us to grow emotionally. We’re going to keep growing with the characters. We’re really along for the ride as well.
Philip Klein Interview
Flying into stream on Netflix is the brand new animated comedy adventure Wish Dragon – featuring a magical score by composer Philip Klein.
Known for orchestrating exciting projects such as Raya and the Last Dragon, The Mandalorian, and the upcoming Jungle Cruise, Klein has also composed scores for films such as The Last Full Measure, Philip Klein is a compelling young voice in the film music world. To score Wish Dragon, Klein connected with the story’s central relationship between a son and his mother and the theme of “finding what really matters in life,” using experiences and emotions from his own life to write the heartfelt music at the core of his score.
Ames: What initially drew you to the world of film composing?
Philip Klein: Oh boy. Probably John Williams, if I’m honest. I was young and I wasn’t going into music yet, but I had been surrounded by music. My dad was in drum corps and was a ridumental drummer. And so, I definitely had music around me, but I had no desire to really be a drummer. But then I watched Jurassic Park and I heard trumpets blasting as a helicopter flew into an island inhabited by dinosaurs and I thought, well, that’s what I need to be doing. And that’s kind of what drew me to film composing. Then of course I developed a love of cinema over the course of kind of falling in love with music. The two of them just seem to go hand in hand together in my mind — this perfect dance that lived between them.
Ames: As a composer, how do you find your style?
Klein: Yeah, that’s a hard thing. What’s your style? Well, it’s whatever the film needs. I think when you’re someone like John Williams or Danny Elfman, or, you know, Alexandre Desplat — you can certainly hear their sound; and I think that’s because they are masters and eventually they start getting asked to score movies that kind of suit their style. When you’re younger and I think trying to adapt to such a changing environment in film, I think you really have to be a chameleon with the styles that you’re writing. I’ve written scores that are totally whimsical and emotional and I’ve written scores — and we’re working on one right now for another film that’s just a dark, murderous sound the entire time.
So, I say it would be hard to listen to both of them and go, “Oh yeah, that’s so Klein, right?” I think it takes a while before you’re at that level where people are calling you for a specific style. So, I don’t know if I have a great answer for that. I think at this point in my life, I’m just trying to write whatever the film needs, and be honest to whatever I think that is. Hopefully, in the process, my style comes through, because I have a certain way of thinking about things. That’s probably all I can say.
Ames: James Horner always talked about how he would underscore the emotion of a scene, even during an action sequence. What do you look for in a film to base your score around?
Klein: Well, I mean, similarly Horner was also a huge influence on my life. I think I tried to find the relationship first in a movie — which relationship I’m really gonna focus on. In the case of Wish Dragon, I kind of gravitated towards the relationship between Din and his mother. I know that’s kind of the secondary relationship in the film, but there was something about their relationship that was so beautifully honest in that movie. Once I find that relationship, it tells me a lot about the characters in that relationship. Then I can really start forming thematic ideas from that, because I do think that if you can hone in on the crux of the major relationship in the film, you’ve kind of cracked the psychology of the characters. That’s where my brain first goes. Then I go and write music and fail in the first five or six tries before I really start to capture something, but it’s never a pretty process in the beginning.
Ames: What drew you to Wish Dragon and what challenges did the project present to you?
Klein: I love animation. It’s been something I’ve always wanted to be doing in my life. I think there’s obviously often a youthful innocence to animation and also the music has to do a little heavier lifting in animation than, say, a traditional drama or live action film. For a composer it can be mentally gratifying because you can open your box of tricks a little more. But also, because animation can be so wildly different, it forces you to adapt, which has always been an exciting process for me. There’s an escapism to me with animation – who doesn’t want to grow up at some point? Who doesn’t want to live in that blissful ignorance of a child? I think there’s something fun about allowing your brain to live in that world for however long you work on a film.
The challenges I face are common in most animated films. There are a lot of shifts and jumps … whereas other films you can allow the music to develop slowly over time. In animation, you have to telegraph the music a little more. That’s not to say it doesn’t change. Certainly, on something like Soul, it has a clear line and they did a really lovely job on that, but on Wish Dragon we have a lot of comedy and action and such. The sheer amount of heavy living is usually the most challenging part when you’re working on something like this, but that’s also what makes it so exhilarating.
Ames: Was there a scene or sequence where the score came together that made you go back and rescore other scenes that you had already completed?
Klein: Yeah, it is a process. You might score a film early on in the game and think, “Oh man I nailed that,” and then go back and start working on other stuff and three months later realize you approached that scene in the completely wrong way. When I found Din’s theme, it became a pretty big signifier and signal for the movie that we were about to have some fun. At the end of the iflm it became a big emotional crutch for me to lean on whenever he was going through something, which is basicaulyl the last thirty minutes of the movie.
But going back to that one relationship between Din and his mother, that was the scene where I was really starting to crack the puzzle – at the end of the movie he and his mother share a moment that was beautiful. She says a line that, without giving too much away, well, it’s on the soundtrack — “Everything that Matters” — and his theme is playing on this childishly simple piano. It’s just two chords going back and forth with his theme just floating on top of it and the piano and the strings giving it a little nudge, but I felt like — and it was partly luck (that happens a lot as a composer), but I felt like it was the right sound for that moment. And I felt like it was all coming together right there. In any movie, as Horner was saying, you can find the emotional core and the rest is just noise. But the benchmark moments, when you have true emotional statements, is really when you make your commission in a sense. I felt like that scene was the big one for me right there.
Ames: You also make good use of Chinese folk instruments in your score. Are these instruments you were familiar with, or was this completely new territory for you too?
Klein: Absolutely, no, no, no! (Laughs) So, the first three to four months I think Chris, the director and I just emailed YouTube videos back and forth and sent MP3s; and just talked about what if we tried this or looked into this? We watched so many videos and talked about so many instruments working and not working. I have an assistant who’s from China and he made me all these cheat sheets about these Chinese instruments. We probably picked about fifteen or sixteen and over the course of learning more about them and talking to players – I would have Zoom interviews with these guys and girls from all over the world; and they would play little lines for me and show me what was available or what wasp possible. Eventually, we got it down to a core of eight and ten instruments. I bought a couple of them here in Los Angeles and had them in the studio and did them no justice. (Laughs) I wasn’t too concerned about using them in the most proper way. We didn’t set out to make a truly authentic Chinese score, we wanted more of a universal sounding score that drew influences from these instruments but also drew influences from the western world; and kind of weaves those instruments into the fabric rather than having them sit on top as the feature.
And it worked! I didn’t have to be great at the guqin. I could just hit it with drumsticks and make rhythms on it
and it would be exactly what we needed for the scene. It was a huge learning experience and I learned a ton from those players even if I probably made them roll their eyes at the end. (Laughs) But that’s part of the fun of the score with this film. It took everything and turned it on its head with those instruments.
One of the benefits of being a film composer is that you get to dive into these worlds that you’ve never experienced before and get inspired by these new textures and sounds and harmonies – that was certainly the case on this movie.