Interview with Nils Petter Molvaer

published 4 November 2011
written by Kathy and Karo

A couple of weeks ago staffer Karo and Kathy attended a concert of Nils Petter Molvaer, soundtrack composer of Rupert Grint‘s Into The White, where he presented his current album “Baboon Moon”. Later on we got the chance to ask him some questions and he told us about is work on the soundtrack, where he got his inspiration from and about an instrument that we probably won’t expect in the soundtrack. How did you become a musician, and how did you become involved with film scores?
NPM: I grew up with music,and musicians. And at one point I decided to go for this, and it has worked well so far. When it comes to filmscores, somebody asked me at one point if I wanted to do a score, so I said sure. I think in the beginning I was asked because they wanted my songs (from albums), but lately I have been doing scores without trumpet also. I really like the process. It´s a huge contrast to what I usually do,and I like contrasts. Both in music, and in life. You’ve worked with Petter Naess before. How did the collaboration for “Into The White” happen (i.e. did Petter Naess ask you to do the score)? Did Petter Naess have any specific ideas, like a certain type of music to be played in certain scenes, or were you given free reign?
NPM: He actually had many ideas. I like that in these kind of films. He know what kind of feeling he wants,and then I try to convert them into music. Does your background in jazz music have an influence on how you approach a film score such as Into the White’s, despite the differences between the genres?
NPM: It might, even though I never think about it. For me,the process of making filmmusic is about simplicity, and to try to capture soul of the situation, or to describa a landscape for example. How much were you influenced by the fact that the film takes place in the 1940s? Where did you get the inspiration for the score? Did you get any inspiration from German/English/Norwegian music of that time?
NPM: No. I try to describe the feeling of the landscape,and the tension, release between the characters. Sometimes also to get tempo in to a scene, or to create a contrast to thesituation. It can be a delicate balance. How would you describe the overall mood of the film score? Is the entire score a new composition, or did you also use contemporary music throughout the film?
NPM: The mood of the landscape is that it´s beautiful but also dangerous. The overall mood is going from tense to relese, but to describe it like this is to generalize, and I´m not fond of that. I try to capture the feeling of situations and characters. When starting to work on the score, did you begin with “only” the script, or did you start once you were shown actual film scenes? How long did it take to finish the score?
NPM: I start to get a feel of the story. Read some script, but mostly having the scenes, and check out different soundscapes or instrumentation. Some instruments works, and some don´t. It took me approximately six months. It´s alot of trying and testing different instrumentations, and then find one and stay with it. Are there any surprising elements/instruments used to convey certain aspects of the story?
NPM: The most suprising would probably be a Tibetan Singing Bowl, and my voice 🙂 Did you create different melodies for the British and German sides, or how do you portray the two opposite sides in the story through the score? When dealing with a story like this, is one tempted to musically represent one side (the Germans) as the “bad guys”?
NPM: I haven´t done that. The thing about this film is that it goes beyond the good guy/bad guy story. It´s about five people stuck in a situation where they have to co-operate to survive. And we get under the -isms, and and into the interaction between people in a difficult situation. That is actually what I like the most about this story. The “good guys” can end up being the “bad guys”.

Thanks a lot Nils for taking the time to answer our questions.

If you wanna find out more about Nils Petter Molvaer check out his official site here.
Baboon Moon is out in stores!

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