Invada

Thank you for all the amazing support we have had for the last 6 months with this incredible vinyl only release.

As of August 2013 we are stocking and selling the Picture Disc double LP and now the new Yellow double LP version.

In case you missed it, label boss Redg Weeks interviewed legendary composer and soundtrack guru Cliff Martinez. Read on for an insight into Cliff's musical history and workings.

INVADA's label manager Redg Weeks spoke to Cliff Martinez - punk scholar, Eno fan, and the composer of this incredible score - about his lengthy history, scoring Drive, and a bit of what's next.

The early days…

Which bands/musicians did you grow up listening to? How much of an impact did they have on your career?

I grew up listening to artists like, THE BEATLES, LED ZEPPLIN, MILES DAVIS, DAVE BRUBECK, BLACK SABBATH and CAPTAIN BEEFHEART. FM radio in the Midwest (where I grew up) during the 70's was very eclectic and adventurous, at least where rock and jazz were concerned. I got a lot of exposure to new music by way of radio. When I moved to Los Angeles in the late 70's I fell in love with the punk rock music scene and that was the beginning of my professional career in music.

As a drummer you played in some influential bands (i.e. The Weirdos, Lydia Lunch, The Dickies) can you tell me how it all started? What was it like living in LA during the punk scene in the late 70s?

I was in love with the LA punk rock scene in the late 70's and early 80's and that scene was all about passionate, over-the-top musical expression with a minimum of training and musical knowledge. It was all very democratic; anyone with a guitar that knew three chords was allowed to participate as long as you were able to express something with conviction and intensity. I had long since become bored with the pretentiousness of the progressive rock of the late 70's and I found this new, primitive musical expression appealing.

You’re famously known as an early member of RHCP - how did this come about?

Flea and I were scholars/enthusiasts of LA's local punk rock scene. It was a very tiny scene in some respects and Flea and I kept bumping into one another. We played together a couple times and I shared a rehearsal space with the Chili Peppers and my own band, Two Balls and a Bat. When the Chili Peppers lost their original drummer, Flea asked me to join the band.

Your move into compositions…

Have you always been a keen film enthusiast or did this evolve as your career started to change?

I first became interested in film scoring because of my fascination with electronic music technology in the late 80's. I started out in the music business as a rock and roll drummer and then I fell in love with sequencers, samplers and drum machines. All the gizmos of that period got me thinking about creating music in a completely different way. And rather than trying to write songs for radio, I thought that the way that computers were influencing music creation better lent itself to film and television.

Were there any scores which inspired you to pursue a career in the industry?

My earliest favorite film scores were Bernard Herrmann’s THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and Ennio Morricone’s FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. Once I started working as a film composer I was more influenced by minimalist composers like Brian Eno and Philip Glass rather than other film composers.

Is it fair to say drumming provided a solid foundation for your composition work?

I don't feel that there was a lot that I was able to transplant from that world into the world of film composing except for my sense of rhythm and of making music by hitting things with a stick. I had to completely re-tool to make the transition into film music.

Now I'm an electronic musician who occasionally wanders off the reservation and creates orchestral or orchestral/electronic hybrid scores. I come from the musical school of "less is more". I am like Vangelis Lite with Erik Saties' left hand and John Bonhams' foot. Think giant blue babies levitating over the mountaintops.

Your first composition was for Pee Wee Herman, was this the catalyst to become further involved in the TV / film industry?

I had a Roland MSQ-700, the first midi sequencer, a Prophet 2000, one of the early low budget sampling keyboards that wasn't a Fairlight and an SP12 sampling drum machine. All this gear funneled me into an abstract, non-musical sound design approach that I thought complimented the show perfectly. I remember I also had a 7 ft. Tibetian horn that made this wonderful blatting sound that was half musical tone and half flatulence. I thought I was on the cutting edge of modern music composition. I used my sampling drum machine for the percussive sound of kitchen utensils and rude body sounds triggered from a midi drum controller and it was perfect. And it all appeared on network television and had a very wide audience for music very much out of the mainstream of popular music. I was hooked on scoring for picture after that.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape was your first full length film score - can you briefly explain how this came to fruition?

I met Steven Soderbergh in 1988. I had a friend, Mark Mangini, who is a sound editor. He asked me to create some music for the film ALIEN NATION whose creators had wanted the sound department to create something part musical and part abstract sound that the aliens might listen to. As I was chiseling away on this material, in walked Mark's roommate, Steven Soderbergh. Before we were even properly introduced, Steven began making comments and suggestions about the music. I could tell that Steven wasn't coming from a musical background, but his instincts about fitting the music to picture were smart and insightful. Later that afternoon, he just asked me if I would be interested in scoring his first film (and mine too), SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I felt that I would be in capable hands. I said "yes" and the rest is history.

As both a musician and (film) composer do you find it frustrating that unless people see the film they are unlikely to hear your compositions? Or are you a firm believer in ‘if it’s a good score it will gain recognition regardless’?

All I can do is write the best music I can to serve the film and hope that it resonates with viewers on screen. If I do my job well then soundtrack sales will hopefully follow.

Film is the closest thing we have to a modern fine art experience that is popular on a mass scale like concert music used to be. People go to the movies and discuss the performances, the direction, the cinematography and the music. If you've ever participated in a preview screening you know that every moviegoer is now a film connoisseur.

Is there a specific process you always adhere to when choosing if you are going to work with a certain film or director?

I wish I were at a point in my career where I was the one doing the choosing, but it's the other way around. The projects choose me and for the most part I always say yes. I'm easy.

Moving onto Drive, I believe the director, Nicolas Winding Refn personally chose the 80s sounding electro-pop songs featured in the film. Were these played to you before you started working on your score?

The songs were more or less established when I was brought onboard and I was assured that they would be in the final version of the film. It seemed clear that the 80's synth-pop style was an important part of the overall sound and so I tried to integrate elements of that into the score in strategic places. We just wanted the songs and score to cooperate with one another and for the entire soundtrack to feel like it was cut from the same cloth. I didn't set out to create a full-blown 80's style score however, nor do I think it was Nicolas' intention to revisit the 80's with the film as a whole. It's a modern film and soundtrack; the retro references are in there just for flavor.

A lot of your scores have encompassed modern electronic synth sounds. Do you listen to a lot of electronica outside of work?

Not a bunch, but Brian Eno is my ATF, if you consider him electronica. I like Crystal Method, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Amon Tobin among others.

Which one film from the past do you wish you could have worked on and why?

I would have liked to have worked on some of the early monster movies from the early thirties like Frankenstein or King Kong. I love those films to begin with, but being there at the dawn of "talking films" would have been interesting because even though there was a precedent of live musical accompaniment for silent films, a whole new vocabulary of music for picture was being created. And the guys that get in on the ground floor get to make the rules because there really aren't any.

Looking at your discography, which composition are you most proud of?

Probably the biggest kick in the pants for me was SOLARIS. I had done a few orchestral scores previously but not on the large scale/posh ride that was SOLARIS. The transformation from demo to final recordings with a live orchestra was breathtaking. The before/after contribution that I felt the score made to the film overall made it one of the most gratifying projects I'd worked on, and it was, and still is, one of the few scores that I still enjoy listening to.

The future…

Are you able to reveal details of any forthcoming projects you’ve got coming up?

I finished ARBITRAGE -- it's hard to describe but I guess you could call it a "financial thriller" -- coming out in August. I’m currently working on THE COMPANY YOU KEEP for Robert Redford and of course Refn’s next film ONLY GOD FORGIVES, which he is currently shooting in Thailand.

Is there a director you’d love to work with but haven’t had the chance to yet?

I'd love to work with Korean director Chan Wook Park one day.

Do you have any interest in other forms of music production - like remixing songs or even producing bands? If so, do you see yourself moving in this direction?

In 2010 I did a remix for Richie Hawtin aka Plastikman. I enjoyed that because in certain respects we are two peas in a pod, musically speaking, even though I come from film and he comes more from a live performance perspective. I've dabbled a bit in video games too and I found that interesting because the music had to be designed to play back differently depending on the seemingly infinite directions the game might head into. Now I'm sniffing around the world of television commercials, because I like the idea of funneling all this talent, imagination and resources into a 30 to 60 second format.

I imagine I'll stay glued to making film music but I'm open to just about anything with the possible exception of dog food commercials and karaoke.