What drew you into composing and visual storytelling, and do you feel that your experience as an actress and playwright influences your musical choices?
I have always been a sucker for a good story – and I really thrive under a narrative frame, both in commision work and my own music. I always create concepts or stories, even with my own records. And I guess that stems from my education and background in acting and playwriting. I think it has granted me an intuitive understanding for dramaturgical energy, that really helps me when scoring for films. It was actually in the transition between acting in film and focusing more on my music, that the film scoring part happened. Many of the directors I had worked with as an actor heard my music and wanted to use it in their work for film or stage. So it kind of happened organically and felt quite safe.
Having composed original scores for film, theatre and dance, and also produced multiple albums, your body of work is very impressive! What are the projects you’re most proud of and/or projects that served as milestones in your career?
Thank you! I am proud of my solo albums, and especially the one I am about to release in 2021. But I am also very happy to have been able to work on Margreth Olin’s films, as they are often political and very humanistic. Her films really have the ability to change political landscape and deeply affect people. “I am Greta” also feels like a real milestone for me.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge in writing to picture, and how do you deal with it?
I think the biggest challenge is finding the balance between a personal expression, your musical voice – and submitting to the narrative of the film. Knowing where to take space to create emotions, and when to step back, which is equally important. And to not lose your musical expression and the homogeneity of the score, in the complex process filmmaking is.
You recently scored Greta, a documentary feature that follows climate activist Greta Thunberg and her efforts to get people to listen to science. The film premieres in Biennale De Venezia in September 2020, and will stream on Hulu! How did you get involved in this project, and what was the scoring process like?
Yes, we are just finishing the score, the last mixing day is tomorrow actually! It’s been a super intense and learnful process, and very rewarding in the end. I so believe in this film and the climate issue is something that takes up a lot of space in me, so I went all in with everything I could give. I partly wrote the score with my good friend Jon Ekstrand, who is an amazing film composer. However he is also writing for a Marvel film right now, so most of the Greta score landed on my plate. But the synergy of writing with Jon really laid down a strong fundament for the score, as we have such good musical flow together. We’ve worked with processed voices and string octet, as well as analog synthesizers and felt piano. We are also using the cellist Linnea Olsson as a soloist in the score. She has such an amazing tone. The nature of the score is quite repetitive and energetic, with a lot of arpeggios and harmonics in the strings. We wanted to underline the clarity and focus Greta Thunberg has on the cause, and to incorporate the massive energy of the movement in her journey throughout the film. So there are three voices in the score; Greta’s, the movement’s and nature itself.
Tell us about your next projects- what’s on the menu for 2021?
I am just finishing a record I have made with poet Jessica Dessner and her brothers Bryce & Aaron Dessner (of the National). It’s called Complete Mountain Almanac, and will be released next year. I am also writing the scores for my long time collaborator, Norwegian director Margreth Olin, who is doing two features next year. Plus Jon Ekstrand and I are finishing up an HBO true crime series before Christmas.
Jennifer Thomas (April 12, 2021)
Wei-San Hsu (April 5, 2021)
Lili Haydn (March 29, 2021)
Elizabeth Phillipson-Weiner (March 22, 2021)
Tangelene Bolton (March 16, 2021)
Lauren Buchter (March 8, 2021)
Daisy Coole (March 2, 2021)
Cindy O’Connor (February 22, 2021)
Aurélie Webb (February 16, 2021)
Joy Ngiaw (February 8, 2021)