Alexandra Patsavas Talks "The Carrie Diaries" and More
Thu, 28 Feb 2013 10:21:30
"Music is so visceral and personal, and when the right song is chosen, it can enhance a scene and change how an audience feels about what's happening," says premier music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas. "However, the music is only effective when the words and acting are already there. The song just enhances it."
Patsavas has been at the forefront of finding the music that consistently "enhances" scenes. She's worked on everything from the Twilight flicks to The O.C. (TV Series) to Warm Bodies to, most recently, The Carrie Diaries. She's been a purveyor of the idea that music supervision in its own right, and she's also proven that claim by remaining a true soundtrack trend-setter.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Alexandra Patsavas talks her process, working on The Carrie Diaries, and so much more.
How much of your own musical tastes and personality can you infuse into a project?
It's an artistic craft so you have to bring some of your own opinions and personality into the music you're listening to and pitching. In all honesty though, the initial vibe is really a conversation and a producer choice. We get hired alongside the director of photography, the costumer, and the editor. The show runner in television or the director of a feature film has so much to do with how the musical personality gets shaped. Once that conversation has occurred and there's been back-and-forth, we can expand on the conversation and bring in some things we think are appropriate.
It's a real collaborative effort.
It has to be. We're all support stuff for the creative vision of the creator of the project. It's definitely collaborative. Now, we work closely with picture editors alongside a composer. The music is always enhancing and supporting an image which is different than curating a mixtape or producing in album.
How much does the script dictate musical choices? Or, do you wait to talk to the producer and director?
During those initial meetings, I think the producers are looking for a music supervisor to bring his or her take and come up with a musical point of view. That's how the discussion starts. For instance now, it's pilot season. We start to get scripts for the new pilots. They won't be shot until March and finished until the end of April and most won't go on the air until next season. There's a long incubation period for discussion.
The Carrie Diaries breaks the mold because it utilizes music from the period as well as modern songs. Most shows will stick to one era.
I was really excited to do The Carrie Diaries. I was in high school at the time the show is taking place. So, many of the songs have real, personal memories for me. I heard the music at a time when I think people are the most excited about new music. They take the music they heard at that time, and it never leaves their psyche. Much of the music is 1978-1984. We're also finding some underground music from the era, having some covers created, or licensing covers of songs from the era.
These aren't the songs you hear from every project in the style of The Wedding Singer…
[Laughs] The opportunity is to use some of the less-heard gems. I think The Three O'Clock are actually going to have reunion this year at Coachella. They were a critical favorite in Los Angeles during the early '80s. It's fun for us to showcase a band like that.
Most people will listen to the same music they did at 13- or 14-years-old. Many of the shows you work on speak directly to that demographic. What you're doing is important.
I bill myself as, "The world's oldest teenager" [Laughs]. I read an article with Stephanie Savage about The Carrie Diaries and some other Fake Empire Productions projects. She basically said when thinking about teenagers, everything is the biggest moment they've had. Things seem heightened. There are so many firsts at that time. We take in music the same way. It's exciting to expose teenagers to the music I loved so much. When using more current music, we know that's something that will resonate with them for years to come.
The eighties is the new seventies. Bands are drawing from it now.
[Laughs] I remember hearing The Killers for the first time. I was listening to a CD on the way to Coachella, and I thought about how much it sounded like my favorite bands from the eighties. I think you're right. There's certainly an influence, and I suspect we're going to move into the nineties pretty soon here, right? Hopefully, there's some Pearl Jam and Nirvana happening in some garage somewhere!
"Classic Rock" will be the next new thing.
What's your own curation process like?
Music supervision used to be on the side of the traditional music business. Over the last two years, the business has changed, and it's moving more into the center of marketing plans and the way bands, majors, labels, and publishers want to reach new fans. We're serviced the same way program directors from radio stations used to hear all of the new music. It's not only limited to already signed and produced bands. As long as the song is of good enough quality to be aired, we consider everything. A great deal of listening is certainly what happens.
Who are you listening to now?
I'm very excited to be attending the Nick Cave show tonight! That's what I was listening to today.
What else have you been working on?
Warm Bodies was an interesting project because the lead spoke through LPs. We're excited to work on Scandal (TV Series) and Mad Men (TV Series) too as well.
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