The terrific Nebraska-via-Athens, Georgia, duo Azure Ray have also collaborated with Moby, Bright Eyes and Now It’s Overhead. But this new music is really a collaboration with a film — Tom Gilroy’s “The Cold Lands.”
All week we have been rolling out new music made by some amazing folks to accompany bonus footage from “The Cold Lands,” which stars Lili Taylor and is now available on most video-on-demand services. It started with new music from Mark Mulcahy, and then the first new music from Michael Stipe since R.E.M. called it a day.
Here’s the latest, along with our conversation with the band.
How did you get involved with the project? What is your connection to Tom Gilroy and the film?
Orenda: Tom reached out to us to ask us if we wanted to be a part of The Cold Lands Collaboration and of course we were honored. We’re big fans of Tom’s personally and professionally. I believe we met Tom many moons ago through our friends Michael Stipe and Hassan Lemtouni. We were working at Hassan’s restaurant at the time in Athens, Georgia, and he took us under his wing and introduced us to all of his cool friends.
Did you know what you wanted included in the footage or make any requests? Or did Tom simply set you up with the clip he wanted you to have?
Orenda: Maria and I live in different states so we had to do the collaboration with each other remotely. To split up the process creatively, I choose the direction of the footage we were to use, then that was sent to Maria to inspire the genesis of the piece musically. I went for the dreamier scenes of the movie — looking for pieces that spoke to the eternal love of a mother and son in life and death. I felt like that would be inspiring for Maria since she is now a mother and is deeply connected to her son.
What was your process like from there? How much time did you spend with the footage trying to match your music with the film? Or did you simply understand the emotional feel of what you wanted to do, and go from there?
Maria: As soon as I watched the footage that Orenda had chosen, I had an immediate emotional connection to it. I watched it only once at first and then sat with my guitar and put the emotion into a melody. I had a guitar melody and a vocal melody that weaved in and out. I wanted it to have a nostalgic and maternal feel to it; make you feel sad and safe at the same time. I sent it to Orenda and she added layers of vocals that would come in and out, adding mystery, then we sent it to Todd Fink to add the final production touches and give it his stamp.
How do you feel about the way it turned out?
Maria: I love how it turned out. I love its subtlety.
Had you ever done anything like this before? What did you most enjoy about the experience?
Maria: We haven’t ever written specifically for a film before. It’s something I would definitely love to do more of.
Do you have a favorite film soundtrack, or a favorite film moment where the music and the visuals work together to evoke a feeling or emotion that’s particularly memorable?
Maria: Hmm, off the top of my head I would say the “Lost in Translation” soundtrack. I think it adds so much to the movie.
Orenda: I always had a soft spot for the “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack. And most David Lynch soundtracks, especially “Twin Peaks” and “Blue Velvet.”