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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.
Mark Mothersbaugh: I got a call from G?bor and he told me he had been doing The Simpsons and now he was creating his own show. It was called Rugrats and he said he had heard a solo album I put out in Japan called Music for Insomniacs. He wanted to use one of the songs on Music for Insomniacs for the theme song for Rugrats. While we're talking I said "I've already scored five or six TV series already." Why don't you let me write you something for it? I can do it in the style of that music, if that's the music you like.
(Music Playing) I started at the very beginning in I don't know it wass like the third or fourth season or something when they came and told me and I was like "You're going to do a feature?" and they go "yeah." They go, "well, the show is incredibly popular." I was thinking wow. I just sit in a room all day and write music and never know what's going on.
I never looked at the trades or followed any of that stuff. So I didn't really know the show was like a pretty successful show. But Paramount said "who you're going to-- who do you want to have the score the movie? We have some ideas." They said, "well, we want the composer of the film to score it." They're like "no, no, he has never scored a big orchestral film before." And I said, "well, I have scored like half a dozen films." "Yeah, but you never had more than 15 people playing." This is going to be like a 80s, 90 piece orchestra.
Gabor he went to bat for me and said "no, I want my composer to write the music!" The execs at Paramount relented, and let me score the movie. It was on-the-job training there too. But it's like in some ways it's easier to score a big score like that, because you have all these people. You have orchestrators and other people that come in and they kind of watch your back for you.
The arrangers and the orchestrators, there is a lot of checks and balances. But anyhow so Rugrats ended being the movie that allowed me to break out of the Catch-22 of he has never scored a big orchestra before.
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