film score composer Nicholas Britell

The fashionable film composer – Nicholas Britell

“Gimme The Loot” is now being released to critical acclaim in major cities across America. Here’s the interview we did with the film’s musical composer/soundtrack guru, Nicholas Britell, after the film was shown at SXSW. 

One of my favorite vignettes in the 2009 anthology film New York, I Love You, which I first viewed about a year ago, is Teya and Dante. At the end of the story directed by Natalie Portman I was moved by a piece of music entitled “Father’s Day” by composer Nicholas Britell. As a fan of good film scores, I immediately sought after this particular piece of ear candy only to be stumped in my quest. No worries, as I contacted Britell, who was more than happy to send me an MP3. Britell’s recent work includes composing original music for Gimme the Loot, which won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW in March. Recently the Harvard grad talked to The Dodgy.

What’s the story behind having your music featured in the Natalie Portman-directed story in New York, I Love You and how did you come up with “Father’s Day”, the piece Carlos Acosta dances to in the final scene?

I was very honored Natalie asked me to write the music for the scene she directed. I had previously acted in her short film Eve, in which I had performed a piano piece I wrote called “Forgotten Waltz No. 2.” The scene in New York, I Love You presented some interesting challenges because we wanted the music to begin tenderly as underscore before the dance begins and then seamlessly evolve into a dance. I wrote a few different melodic ideas, and the final theme we chose, “Father’s Day”, seemed to work the best. The melody has an intimate feeling, and it worked well with Carlos Acosta’s beautiful dance.

Did you attend SXSW and what was your reaction when the film Gimme the Loot won the Grand Jury Prize?

I did attend SXSW this  year. It was a great experience to be there, and it was so exciting to be attending alongside our film Gimme the Loot. We have been so thrilled and humbled by the amazing reaction people have had to this film. In addition to winning the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW, the film was also honored as being an Official Selection for the Cannes Film Festival this year. I went to Cannes as well, and we had a wonderful time screening the film in France.

What’s your writing process like? Do you write during a particular time of day or night?

I generally begin writing music in the mid-afternoon or later. I’m a bit of a “night owl” and I find that I’m more productive with music composition later in the evening. I also play the piano throughout the day, and I find that this helps with generating ideas and being musically inspired.

Do you have any favorite film composers?

There are so many composers who have inspired me. With regard to film music specifically, I’ve always felt a close bond to the music featured in Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique. That score is spectacular, written by Zbigniew Preisner. I love the music of Maurice Jarre, in particular his scores to Jacob’s Ladder and Dead Poets Society. And of course I love classics scores like Vangelis’ score to Chariots of Fire. There are really so many others too – I could go on and on. Danny Elfman’s Beetlejuice score, James Horner’s Sneakers

Now is the typical “What’s on your iPod?” question. What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?

I listen to all genres of music. I love classical music – right now I’m listening to a lot of Mozart and Prokofiev – but  I also love hip-hop, jazz, and world music. I’m a huge fan of producer J-Dilla, and I’ve always been very inspired by Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, and many other great hip-hop producers.

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