Thursday, 7 April 2011

Tip #67: Get excellent music from solo artists and bands

(Interview with musicians Phil and Joe Gooch)

Rather than the tedious and expensive method of trying to licence a famous music track for your film, why not look at using the just as good (and sometimes better) music from the many relatively unknown solo artists and bands out there. All you need to do is find a great track (e.g. on MySpace), ask, and then make sure they sign a waiver if they say yes. We interviewed London musicians Phil and Joe Gooch, whose solo and band music (as MellowSun) was used in the feature film Ambleton Delight, about why they said yes.

1. What kind of musical background do you have?

Phil Gooch: I learnt the cello up to the age of 17, then decided to teach myself the guitar. I played in a few bands at University, and have been dabbling in writing guitar music ever since!

Joe Gooch: I have had no formal training in singing or composition but that hasn't stopped me from singing in a variety of bands and writing songs since 1990. Since the late 90's I have been writing songs with my brother Phil in our acoustic band MellowSun. In 2004ish I started writing instrumentals.

Phil Gooch

2. How do you write/record music together?

Phil: Usually one of us will already have a basic chord structure that we want the other to contribute to: in my case, it would need lyrics, a melody and vocal parts, in Joe's case, he might want a guitar part. We tend to use Reason and Logic, and record and mix directly on the laptop.

Joe: Phil will play me what he's been working on. While I'm listening, I will start to get vocal line ideas. Phil will then record what he has come up with and I will take it away and work on the lyrics and possible structure ideas. We'll then get together and work through the track and make any adjustments.

3. What inspires you to write?

Phil: On my own, I might get inspired by an existing loop or drum pattern, and come up with a guitar part, or I might just be noodling on the guitar and develop it into an entire piece, or just a loop pattern.

Joe: When I write my instrumentals, I am fortunate enough to get a lot of song ideas, melodies and titles from dreams. When that happens, hopefully I will wake up soon enough after dreaming it to sing it into my phones voice recorder to work on it at a later date.

4. Why did you allow your music to be used in the film?

Phil: Mutual respect for each others' work really. Also, I was interested to see how the music I'd written might be used in a film: for example, how would someone else interpret it and decide which scenes a certain piece would be appropriate for?

Joe: I had a small part in Ambleton Delight as the London Head Chef. I also think it's a win-win situation for both the film and us, as they get to use our music for the film's soundtrack and we as musicians or composers get our music out there to an audience who probably haven't heard our music before. I was also promised that if I let Dan use our tracks in the film he would reprise the character of London Head Chef in a spin-off film where he works as a chef by night and solves crimes by day in The Ambleton Murders. I'm still waiting for that to materialise...

Joe (foreground) and
Phil Gooch

5. What do you recommend filmmakers do when they want to have indie or other music in their film?

Phil: Rather than just put out a general request for 'unsigned' music, I think it really helps if the film-makers directly approach bands and musicians whose work they like. For musicians just starting out, it's great to be approached and asked if your music can be used in another medium - it shows that it has some resonance in some way outside of the confines of the song or piece itself.

Joe: Just contact the band or individuals and be upfront in regards to payment, or lack there of! I would think most independent bands and artists would love to be asked for the use of their music as part of a film's soundtrack. Not only is it nice to know that a film maker likes your work enough to want it to play a part in his or her film, but every band or artist wants their music heard by as many people as possible and this is another great way to do just that.

MellowSun MySpace page:

Phil's solo work:

Joe's solo work:

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