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"Alien: Ore" (2019) Q & A, Leonty Music, part three

As part of my ongoing Q & A series on "Alien: Ore" (2019), here is part three of my three-part interview with the film's composers, Rose Hastreiter and Gerry Plant of Leonty Music

Recording (cont.)

Nick: Horner recorded his score to Aliens (1986) in four days. How long was your recording process for "Alien: Ore" by comparison? 

Rose: Approximately two months, from auditioning to the final mix. Composition, recording and tracking were all happening at the same time, in our case. We didn't have any luxury of budget towards a live orchestra. So, we were resourceful in our design of sounds. Everything was arranged and produced in our studios.

Gerry and Rose each have their own studio, and the two communicated back and forth constantly during the score's production.

Nick: When recording, did you try to recreate any "alien" sounds for your own score? If so, how analog-driven was your approach? For example, in Forbidden Planet (1956), Bebe and Louis Barron used specialized equipment to create "electronic tonalities" that would give the movie its alien atmosphere; though much of Goldsmith's score is unused in Alien (1979), certain segments almost have an experimental, “John Cage” quality to them, as well. 

Rose: We didn't aim to recreate any Alien sounds. As composers and artists, we really attempted an original piece of music with only some influence from the original score (as well as the visual environment that we saw on film).

Louis and Bebe Barron. They composed the first entirely-electronic film score, but were denied an Academy Award nod (they were electronic engineers, and weren't members from the American Federation of Musicians; the Academy Awards didn't legally consider what they did music).

Nick: Certain sounds produced in Alien were "replicated," in Alien: Isolation. Most notable was the "space whale" sound effect. The studio licensed it and other sounds/melodies, which Sam Cooper  and Byron Bullock reproduced. In this interview, Cooper and Bullock explain how modern technology allowed them to experiment, giving their "whale" a unique stamp.

Did you ever try re-create older sounds for "Alien: Ore," albeit with a similar, modern slant? Or did you "play it by ear," listening to the music and using your own tools and devices, without trying to replicate the original (music and sounds) quite so much? 

Gerry: Mostly by ear while still throwing in a couple of sounds/approaches similar to the original score. 

Rose: We took great care in designing a sound library for the [score. For] the opening title scene, we used several layers of sound to create the "whale" sound that you hear right before the cut to the first scene. We tried to keep "synthetic" choices over organic elements—hence the "species" of sounds that related to the environment: metals, wind through the tunnels, etc.

Kolton Brown right before he finds Al's body. The scene is largely dark, and the music that plays is ambient, full of spooky sounds.

Nick: On that note, Kailey and Sam mentioned your recording approach, including how you had used metals and other sounds that could have been right from the mine to create "musical moments." Could you describe some of those techniques, and the "musical moments" they produced? For example, were you ever on location, in the mine, perhaps recording various sounds, or gathering musical data?

Gerry: I spent some time putting together a small library of "found sounds" that could be manipulated by various FX and synths—most notably by dragging an assortment of metal things across a concrete floor and sampling the results. Beat up a piano a bit too.

Rose: Yeah, the wok lid is surprisingly still usable for food, haha! We didn’t have the luxury of heading into the mine. On a feature, we'd definitely consider doing that. For our work, "found sounds" are always a favorite approach.

Gary Rydstrom, who led the teams responsible for the award-winning work in Terminator 2 (1991). Some of my favorite sound effects work is heard, in that movie. Rydstrom et al used a lot of "found sounds" for the sound effects, which tended to mirror or complement the music written by Brad Fidel.

End Result

Nick: Were any excerpts from your score removed, late in the game; or, did just about everything make it into the short? For example, Goldsmith's score was largely discarded by Scott. Small pieces were "cut up" and interwoven with other works—some from Goldsmith's canon, others from Mozart or Hanson. 

Gerry: Everything made it in (with some bonus last minute additions).

Nick: How happy are you with the final product? Did it turn out better than you expected? In hindsight, would you do anything different?

Gerry: Once the final edit with all the VFX showed up, it looked awesome. Don't think I'd do anything different as far as the score goes; "different" doesn't necessarily equate to "better."

Rose: The movie was great. There's always going to be discussions around "should the score be louder"—and only because we're composers! If it were up to us, the score would probably be louder than the dialogue, haha ("How many composers does it take to change a light bulb…")!

Nick: Given your experiences with "Alien: Ore," would you return for a feature-length sequel, if that were an option? 

Gerry: Only if I get a Weyland-Yutani t-shirt.

Rose: Heck yes—but only if the Spears write and direct it!

Nick: Lastly, "Alien: Alone" composer Joel Santos' score is available on Bandcamp and Spotify. Will your "Alien: Ore" score be similarly available in the near future?

Rose: Yes. In fact, it is in the process of being placed into Spotify!

A Word from the Directors

The twins have worked with Leonty Music for years.

Nick: Music-wise, how did you come to use Leonty Music? Did you have them in mind, early on, and did you want them to emulate a specific composer (Goldsmith’s Freud [1962], for example)?

K & S: We LOVE working with Rose Hastreiter and Gerry Plant at Leonty! We had previously worked with them on "The Mary Alice Brandon File" (2015) and "CC" (2018). Rose had taken the lead on both of those ("The Mary Alice Brandon File" was released on the Twilight Saga Facebook page and can be seen there. Give that music a listen. It is beautiful). We love Rose [for] her beautiful attention to detail.

[Music is important.] The sounds and tones of the music help build [an] understanding of the world [the viewer is] placed in—for the story, as well as [the viewer's] understanding of who the characters are. We knew going into this project that we wanted the music to have a very close relationship with the soundscape—[for] them to almost play off each other and for there to be "music moments" that could almost sound like the diegetic world [of "Alien: Ore"].

[For that, we] wanted to use Rose and Gerry right from the beginning. We knew that they would bring something special to the score. They were amazing with what they brought to this film, [too.] It was a different approach then what we had done with our previous films. [Rose and Gerry] used metals and sounds that could have almost been from the mine itself to create musical tones and "moments." 


About me: My name is Nick van der Waard and I'm a Gothic ludologist. I primarily write reviews, Gothic analyses, and interviews. Because my main body of work is relatively vast, I've compiled it into a single compendium where I not only list my favorite works, I also summarize them. Check it out, here!

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