For a week now, 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 Mark Mulcahy, and then the first new music from Michael Stipe since R.E.M. called it a day.
Here’s the latest, with indie-poppers the Echo Friendly, 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?
Shannon's manager, Lillian LaSalle, put us in touch with Tom and then he and I had coffee and we really connected over music we loved -- and turns out I was already a fan of his music video work with R.E.M. His vision for the project was really collaborative and it was important to him to have women involved and that really spoke to us.
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?
He had the sequence in mind so he sent us the raw footage to look at and we loved the image of the spooky rest stop at night. Being in a band, we have driven a lot at night, stopping at places like that, so even though the film's themes were different than ours, we still found a personal connection to the imagery.
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?
We already had an instrumental we had worked up with our band of a long time that we were planning on recording, but it was the collaboration with Tom that made me want to add Shannon's voice and our vocal interplay, which is the most recognizable element of our sound. The lyrics were part of a recurring theme in a new batch of songs that ended up working perfectly for the footage so it was very easy and organic.
How do you feel about the way it turned out?
It really exists as its own thing separate from the band and the film. It's always nice when that happens in collaboration.
Had you ever done anything like this before? What did you most enjoy about the experience?
We've worked closely with a lot of filmmakers on music videos and acted in and made movies together, but we've never gotten to be so hands-on editing our music to a visual piece. Julia, who edited the film, did a great job and really wanted us there the whole time so we were able to learn a lot about the process from her.
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?
Dan Romer's score for "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is our favorite score. I'm a bit biased because I've known Dan a long time and have had the chance to work with him a few times, but what he did with that music was totally incredible. It's hard to even think about the movie without hearing the score in your head. They screened it in Prospect Park with a live orchestra. There aren't too many movies you can do that with.
We also love TV and there have been some great moments recently. "The Americans" used a great live version of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" in the pilot and also the Cure's "Siamese Twins" in the closing of another episode and it was like hearing it for the first time, which for me is always the goal when mixing the two mediums, otherwise it can be distracting. We try to make our music very cinematic so when people want to use it for film and TV it's very exciting because I think we are inspired by those moments.