Composers name’s are never tossed about as often as their on-screen counterparts. These folks control everything from the pace to the feel of a movie and deserve more attention. So when we get a chance to interview composer Nathan Barr who has worked on everything from True Blood to Cabin Fever, we jump at it!
You have a very unique collection of instruments. What would you consider to be your favorite? Which is the most valuable?
Honestly my favorite instrument vacillates from week to week depending on my mood! The latest addition to my collection is a 19 rank Wurlitzer Theater Organ which lived on Twentieth Century Fox’s Scoring Stage 1 for almost three quarters of a century and can be heard in films as various as “The Sound of Music” and “Home Alone,” among many others. It was installed at the studio in 1928 and sold in the early 90s to a private collector who owned it until I purchased it earlier this year. It will receive an immaculate restoration over the next two years and then be installed in my studio. I am very excited to welcome an instrument with such a rich history in film music into my collection.
You have been tied to HBO’s True Blood for quite some time. What was/is your favorite thing about working on that show?
The best part of working on “True Blood” is getting to compose music for an incredibly rich and interesting cast of characters. Even if I was not scoring the show, I would still be tuning in each week to watch the characters I have come to love so much over the past six seasons. In addition to their on-screen chemistry, there is also a lot of off-screen, behind-the-scenes chemistry among those of us who work on the show.
You have studied music all over the world. What was your favorite place and why?
Cello lessons in New York City with one of the greatest teachers of my life, Maxine Neuman, probably stands out as one of my best experience studying music. While New York City as a setting is wonderful, it was my teacher Maxine who instilled in me a lasting passion in the cello and all it’s possibilities.
We here at Horror-Fix are pretty big Eli Roth fans. You have worked on numerous films if his. What kept drawing you back to Roth’s works?
I just love working with Eli. We have very similar tastes and sensibilities as far as horror films go, and so working together has always felt very natural and easygoing. His films always make an impact on audiences, and being a part of his vision brings out some of my best work.
Your list of feature films is quite impressive. What was your favorite one to collaborate on?
I would put working with Eli on “Cabin Fever” as among my favorite experiences. It was Eli’s first film, and we shared an enthusiasm and excitement about really pushing the boundaries in the genre to new levels. Another great experience recently was working with Justin Zackham on “The Big Wedding.”
Are there any other directors/producers you would like to work with?
Danny Boyle, Joe Wright, Jane Campion, Terrance Malick, among others…
You are known for not only writing but performing and arranging various works. Which of the three do you consider to be the most difficult?
Composing and arranging are for me very similar. Arranging is really about composing music around someone else’s melody – honoring the essence of that melody, and hopefully giving it a new and interesting environment to express itself in. Performing most of the instruments in many of my scores is probably among the most challenging things I do because of the various handicaps I have on certain instruments. Getting the right performance out of myself on a track takes infinite amounts of patience and discipline.
What is the most difficult score you have worked on?
The most difficult scores are always those with too many cooks in the kitchen, each with a different idea of what the music or film are supposed to be. Fortunately, I have had very few of these experiences and hope to keep them at a minimum!
Do you have anything upcoming that we should be on the lookout for?
This year I am composing scores for Season 2 of “The Americans” on FX, Season 2 of “Hemlock Grove” on Netflix, Season 7 of “True Blood,” and Season 1 of “Tumbleaf” on Amazon. I also have a musical in the works and a couple of films on the horizon!
Thanks to Nathan and everyone on his team! We cannot wait to see what you do next.