The introduction, background & it’s really all about me bit…
When it comes to horror film inspirations, one doesn’t need to look much further than our centuries old collections of folklore and fairy tales. Ever since movies began, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and other writers of myth and lore have provide the source and influence of endless cinematic productions.
The simple reality is that these stories, often dressed up as cosy children’s bedtime tales, are in fact choc-a-bloc full of threat, hate, violence and death – Sounds like a nice horror recipe to me!
As a child I used to devour the works of Grimm and Anderson, in fact I distinctly remember one of my prized posessions being the complete works Hans Christian Anderson. It was a book bought for me by my parents as a birthday present. I loved it, the stories were wondrous, profound and instantly transported me to places and times that were as alien to that young boy as anywhere. And yet, and yet…….. they had also inadvertently provided me with a collection of stories containing more death and anguish that I would have been allowed to watch on TV before the fabled ‘watershed hour’ of 9pm.
At the time I wasn’t really aware of some of the more subtle and horrifying sub-texts to many of the fairy tales I used to devour back then. It was only years later when I realised the full horror of many of the themes contained It’s all in there, lust, incest, hate, murder, loss, death…….and more death. It was brutal stuff – and I loved every minute of it.
When it came to The Brothers Grimm, they too provided me with a plethora of delicious childhood nightmares with perhaps Hansel & Gretel, with it’s tale of a cannibalistic witch (that’s correct folks, I said ‘cannibalistic’) kidnapping young children. My god, the nightmares I had after first reading THAT story! Even the family friendly sanitized movie versions by the likes of Walt Disney still contained many of the original horrific themes. I shall never forget the sleepless night I had after watching Pinnochio – in particular the scenes of the naughty boys being turned into Donkeys……bloody hell!
So you can imagine my delight when I learnt that a new adaptation of this tale was getting a brand new cinematic release. Director Oz Perkins’ has produced the upcoming dark new take on the classic fairy tale, entitled Gretel & Hansel. It will be released in several territories (including the US by United Artists – the theatrical film distribution partnership between Annapurna & MGM) on January 31st.
The film stars Sophia Lillis (IT) and Alice Krige, perhaps best known for playing the Borg Queen in “Star Trek: First Contact .
You can see the trailer for Gretel & Hansel RIGHT HERE.
Any self-respecting horror film relies to a large extent on the quality of its music, Gretel & Hansel is no exception. I was lucky enough to be able to listen to the official soundtrack just a day or so ago and was blown away by its delightful atmospheric resonance.
I listened to the album twice yesterday and sound it hypnotically beautiful. Rob has served up an unrelenting haunting and evocative electronic environment that effortlessly guides the listener along the films journey. However this isn’t your run of the mill horror score containing the requisite collection of jarring, harsh piano and string assaults on the ears. Instead the result here is a soundscape of occasional warmth delight – totally unexpected and all the better for it. Wonderful stuff.
I was delighted to be given the opportunity to chat with composer Robin Coudert (alias Rob) about the writing of the soundtrack. So before his words of wisdom let me throw a little mini-biography of Rob your way……
Robin Coudert alias Rob studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
He worked with Sebastien Tellier and Phoenix on different projects at the beginning of the 2000s. In 2005, he composed his first original score to the short film Pink Cowboy Boots, and produces several artists such as Melissa Mars (2005), Zaza Fournier (2008), Alizée, Adanowski (2010) or Leon Larregui (2011) – n°1 in Mexico.
He started to work more for the film industry, and developed a strong collaboration with director Rebecca Zlotowski (Belle Epine, Planétarium). He is especially known for his work on horror movies such as Frank Khalfoun’s Maniac, and Alexandre Aja’s Horns. He is also well known for his score to acclaimed French tv-series Le Bureau des Légendes (The Bureau).
Rob recently scored the music to Mounia Meddour’s drama Papicha, which was selected at Cannes ‘Un Certain Regard’.
Next to his work as a composer, Rob is also a producer and created Hippocampus Studio with producer Jack Lahana.
The Interview bit…
Q) Firstly, tell us a little about your musical history and inspirations
I started playing the trumpet when I was 8 years old. I moved on to synths when I found out I had lung issues, and started playing music using computers when I was 10. My relationship to electronic music began when I was quite young, I think it gave me a very naive and instinctive approach to it.
As a kid, I was already pretty much into score. The scoresfrom Polanski’s Vampire Killers, or Morricone’s Mission were a big thing for me when I was a young teenager. I also remember being fascinated by Michael Nyman’s Draughtsman’s Contract. I still am!
Q) Are you a fan of horror? If so what are some of your favourites & why?
I wouldn’t call myself a fan of horror specifically. I’m just extremely curious and adventurous. I love it when the Arts go beyond their limits. I guess genre and horror films can do that pretty well, no? I’m always surprised when people say they can’t watch horror films, because they’re scared. But they can watch Hanneke or Lars Von Trier… I don’t get it.
Everything is potentially interesting. I’m obviously a huge fan of horror authors like Argento, Carpenter, Romero, but I’m also very excited to watch new talents such as Ari Aster, Robert Eggers or Ali Abbasi (Borderfor example).
Q) Hansel & Gretel is a classic story about childhood. Would you have written the music differently if it had a more ‘adult themed’ horror story?
I tend to always include parts of my childhood emotions in my work. I love to dig in that part of my brain to look for buried feelings and deepness.I like to think that our inner child leads us throughout life whatever happens.
It happened very instinctively to use this in Gretel and Hansel. Of course the relationship between the siblings and Gretel’s coming of age were a great source of inspiration. The fear facing the unknown, the warmth of childhood, the trust and mistrust towards the adult world…
Q) Did director Oz Perkins make any suggestions on what he wanted for the music?
‘Electronic’ and ‘humorous’ were the two key words. I thinkOz wanted some distance between the music and the picture. I like the idea that the music brings something exterior &unwritten to the film, some kind of other perception.
Music should tell us what we don’t see, what is untold in the story.
Q) Why did you choose to go with an electronic score rather thanthe traditional orchestral approach?
An orchestra would have taken us to a usual fairy-tale atmosphere. We’re used to eery, fantasy, harpy sounds, it’s part of the Disney legacy in a way.
This feature brings a brand new approach. Here, this tale feels more realistic, tangible. Of course its fictional, but it has its own reality. I wanted to create the soundscape for that.
Q) What was your experience working on this film compared to working on Franck Khalfoun’s acclaimed ‘Maniac’ starring actor Elijah Wood?
Those two projects are very different. Downtown LA and the early 19th century Black Forest obviously bring different inspirations.
Although, the similarity would be that I have used my inner child for both scores. There’s a common ‘childish’ point of view, in a way. In Maniac my original idea was to compose the music for the main character through his childhood traumas, and in a way, what we experience in Gretel & Hanselare those traumas coming alive.
Q) Next to your work as a composer, you’ve also created hippocampus Studio. Can you tell us more about this?
My partner Jack Lahana (mixer and co-producer) and I, have founded the studio in Paris. It is a shelter for our creativity and a musical lab. We record and produce everything there. It’sstuffed with synths and gears, all ready to rumble. It’s a fantasy I had when I was looking at Vangelis footage, a fatsynth’s god, surrounded by machines.
Q) If there was one film score that you wish you had written yourself, what would it be?
I don’t have idols, really. But I have many fantasies. I love the idea of being just a tiny part of cultural history. But apart from these thoughts, Sex Power from Vangelis is a true melodic masterpiece.
Q) What does the future hold for Rob?
Run Sweetheart Run, directed by Shana Fest, just premiered in the Midnight category at Sundance Festival 2020. It’s a great social horror feature, very exciting.
And Papicha is on its way to an American release, it’s an Algerian movie about the Black Decade of the 90s in Algeria. It is a very intense and beautiful film, directed by Mounia Meddour. It got selected at Cannes Film Festival 2019 in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ selection.
All tracks composed, performed and produced by ROB
Engineered and mixed by Jack Lahana at Hippocampus Studio (Paris, France)
Recording and mixing assistant: Rémi Peral
Cello Performed by Moritz Reich
Music Production Executive for Studio Hippocampus: Jeanne Trellu
Score Published by U/A Music Inc. (ASCAP)
Music Editor: Nate Underkuffler
Album Artwork by Sara Deck
Waxwork Records is excited to present Gretel & Hansel as a deluxe vinyl release featuring the complete film music by Rob, 180 gram “Witchcraft Splatter” colored vinyl, new artwork by Sara Deck, old-style tip-on gatefold jackets with satin coating, and heavyweight printed inner sleeves. The packaging, artwork, and design is a nod to classic fairytale books such as Little Golden Books.
ROB’s OST album to director Oz Perkins’ horror fairy-tale Gretel & Hansel, is now available via Waxwork Records on vinyl, digital & CD.
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