I think it was the year 2000. I had been working my way through the Director's Guild book, ringing Directors and introducing myself. Everyone I spoke to was very nice but opportunities were very rare. I cannot remember exactly how I ended up talking to Michael Barry at Universal Studios Networks (which is the part of Universal that was focussed on TV content) but I got the opportunity to write music to go with their new Idents for their satellite channel. It was orchestral and I needed to produce a 30 second version, a 5-second version and a bong, which lasting a second.
This then led onto the opportunity to write the music for the Secret Life of Objects. This was a series of shorts that was being created in a very interesting way. The idea was to look at everyday household objects and look at how they called all be used for sinister purposes. It was quirky, film noir and tongue-in-cheek. Each territory would produce a few episodes but what would tie them all together would be a common theme tune and a piece of music that could be used according to how the individual directors wanted to work with it.
It was a 3-hour train / Tube / walk to USN and I used to come up with an idea, travel to meet Michael, play him my music, take his feedback on board and go back home and develop it. That was just the way it was back then!
I was so grateful for my Related Arts and Music degree because it gave me a breadth of musical understanding I don't think I would have had otherwise. |Michael was a really nice guy but he wasn't musically-trained, so the hardest part was being to get inside his head and understand what he wanted.
There was a fabulous violinist called Louise Mansbridge who was studying at Chichester University and she came over to my studio a few times. Although most of my music was created with synths, it is amazing how adding a single live instrument can lift the music entirely and give it a more authentic sound.
I was writing serial melodies using the 12-tone scale, keeping it quirky and catchy. Each time I played it to Michael, he would ask for it to be stranger, quirkier, slightly more sinister etc.. Louise was amazing, she had never played in these strange styles before and she was a legend! The final idea had no musical elements to it at all and consisted of Louise making strange scraping sounds! That was the point at which Michael asked to being it back and we ended up with something he loved.
I think it took about 5 trips with different ideas in the end. That music was then developed and extended and elements of it were used in all of the episodes. I was so grateful that I had encountered so many different styles when I was studying music!