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In this installment of Creative Inspirations, we meet music composer and DEVO founder Mark Mothersbaugh at home at Mutato Muzika, his studio on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. This is where he and his fellow spuds (Mutato combines mutant and potato) create some of film and television's most compelling music.
Mark reveals what drives his projects that have ranged from Clio Award-winning commercials, to Emmy Award-winning music for television, to soundtracks for popular video games. Mark shows us his stunning paintings and drawings that have been shown in galleries around the world, and shares his motivation behind being an artist working in various media, his fascination with mutants and symmetry, and using Photoshop to manipulate his work. He also discusses how the unique DEVO sound, look, and philosophy first came together, and why after a 28-year break, they came back together with a new album and tour.
James Sale: Mark's focus for every film that he does is melodic and thematic. I think he feels that he can really concentrate on that, concentrate on the melodies and the themes, and not worry about the scope and the size and whether it's three trumpets or six trumpets, or not get lost in those details because he knows that I will then take care of that afterwards. Mark Mothersbaugh: This is James Sale. He is composer in his own right, but he is also an excellent synthestrator, orchestrator and conductor. Hi does all of those things here at Mutato.
What we have got here is the piece of the film that we worked on last year. It works for a Sony Pictures. It was a 3D film called Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. James Sale: So we'll start with Mark's sketch here and this is a key moment in the film where basically our lead character Flint has sort of given up hope. (Music playing) This is the full orchestral version with samples to picture.
(Music playing) So as you can see, the logic, it's got a pretty good simulation of the real thing, but now we will hear the full orchestral recording.
(Music playing) These strings are far more effective obviously when they are real and detailed, the harp and everything comes through.
(Music playing) Solo lines like that are much more emotional. So this is the score that I conducted from, in London. When I am out conducting on the podium, Mark is in with the producers and directors and he is constantly in contact with them, talking to them, getting notes from them, getting recommendations, holding hands, assuaging fears and all sorts of things.
Mark Mothersbaugh: Massaging them through the process. James Sales: Yes, massaging them through the process. And then he relays that to me when I am out on the podium. Mark Mothersbaugh: There is nothing that sounds like hundred live players all in the room breathing. And midi and sampling is pretty amazing, but it's just there is not a comparison really in the long run if you are-- I mean, which isn't to say that all scores should be orchestral. I mean a lot of scores need to be logic only.
They could be just happy living in the world of synths and we do those kinds of scores too. But it's just-- there is something about having real players that nothing else compares to it. With this film in particular, it was one of the smoother films I think either of their separate work done. Just, there was a lot of pre-production for both of us and it was worth at the end. It was like, it went very smooth on the five days we were in the London. And our directors they had never been on a recording day before.
So when they were sitting there with the hundred players playing, they were appropriately blown away and that worked out in our favor. It helped us out. James Sale: We had to wait nine months for that moment but it was worth it. We kept telling them, "You are going to really like this someday."
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