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Linda Muir Interview | The Northman



I sat down with costume designer Linda Muir (The Witch, The Lighthouse) to discuss her amazing work on The Northman, as well as her other collaborations with Robert Eggers. Watch it below!

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Interview | Hesham Nazih Discusses His Moon Knight Score, Being a Part of the MCU, & More



Very seldom do aspects of a Marvel project stand out, at least in recent years. Moon Knight, however, changed this pattern with its wonderful score. Hesham Nazih has an impressively long resume, but nothing with the scope of an MCU project. In his score, he blends the epic nature needed for any sort of blockbuster film/limited series with Egyptian tidbits sprinkled in. It’s truly wonderful and I hope that Moon Knight gets a second season, if for nothing else, than to give Hesham another season. Bravo, Hesham.

Congratulations on Moon Knight, your score is so distinct, which is not always the case with comic book properties, and I was curious as to how you were approached for the show.

Moon Knight was definitely one of the biggest, if not the biggest project I’ve ever worked on, and I assume that you have watched the series, which has a massive story which is so full of everything in full everything in excess. Everything [from] romance, adventures, historic mythology in the Ancient Egyptian charm, and you know, all of that encompassed in a very human way, not neglecting the human side of the character, especially the main character, Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) who is a great character that has an incredible background with the childhood trauma that he endured and the sense of guilt towards his wife [Layla (played by May Calamawy)]; towards the things that he had done; and in his connection with Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham)]. Marc is an amazing character [and] is so unusual and [the series is] so dramatically intense as well. And it’s very dynamic, the whole show, the whole thing.

Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight. Photo courtesy of Disney.

So I had all of that in mind before writing, before taking the first step. And my first step in writing this score was with the main team because I believe that if I come up with a good one that encompassed all of that—or almost all of that—it would make everything afterwards musically clear.

Did you have to keep this project a secret when you found out you landed this job?  

Absolutely. I had gone through so many NDAs and stuff like that and I had to keep it between me and myself. But I never talk about all my projects—I keep a low profile, keep it silent up until it’s out in the open. I kind of like it because it gives you the chance to work stress-free with no expectations.

And of course, Moon Knight was highly anticipated, but when you keep quiet while working, it gives you a calmer environment and more room to concentrate and focus on the work.

Was it any harder to score-to-scene with these circumstances? I wasn’t sure if they would hold any footage back given Disney’s secrecy with Marvel projects.

No, I saw it. I worked all to the picture. They sent me the picture and all of the script and everything I needed, I just needed to watch it alone and not to say anything about it—it was a regular nondisclosure agreement.

Did the pandemic affect this production or your work at all?

The pandemic affected everybody’s life, but at some point in time, we got used to it. You got used to the new normal, the new normal has become the normal, you know, and we discovered good things about that. It’s amazing how technology has made everything easier, we can now talk and see each other. I assume you’re a thousand miles away, in a different time zone, maybe it’s your daytime where you are, I don’t know. For instance, I monitored all the recordings on my computer while the recordings were happening (the mixing was happening overseas). And yes, the pandemic affected everyone’s life, but by the time I started working on Moon Knight, it became so normal and regular.

And so I think this is the first Marvel project, you know, to go over to Egypt, right? This is kind of globe trots a little bit, so for you, what is this like to see them make their way over to Egypt and to be involved in the first project that takes place there?

It’s great for any artist to take parts of any Marvel project because is, I mean, it’s reach is huge and everyone on the globe is watching one of Marvel shows. It’s amazing. And yes, working on a project like this was really cool because I had the chance to, within the score I’ve written for The show is not Egyptian, nor is the main character, nor is the show about Egypt, [but] part of it took place in Egypt and there is an Egyptian aspect in the score.

I remember talking with Muhammad [Diab], the director, he was really clear about making everything Egyptian as authentic as possible, which was the clearest part of the job, because we couldn’t be more Egyptian—we are Egyptian. So, naturally, yes, it’s great and it was a great challenge.

A still from Moon Knight. Photo courtesy of Disney.

I know earlier you said that because of all the NDAs, there were less expectations, but you also mentioned the rapid Marvel fandom and how everybody sees these projects. So was that intimidating at all to think about the millions of people watching Moon Knight and hearing your score?

I almost got that out of my mind. I always throw all these ideas out of my mind. And then I locked the doors of my room and start writing. Because when I think of the amount of people who would listen to the music, watching this show, it sometimes gets to me. Sometimes I think: “Oh, who’s was going to watch this and listen to it?” but in just a split second, I’m going to get back to focus and enjoy working on the show.

So I don’t know if they have announced any future plans, but if they did have a second season would you go back in a heartbeat or would you have to think about it?

I would go back in a split second if there’s a second season, absolutely. I will not think twice. It was a fantastic ride and I enjoyed it tremendously, so yeah, absolutely

I’m sure you’ve talked about Moon Knight ad nauseam, so I want to circle back a little bit about your journey. How did you get into composing?

I wasn’t in a musical school, I did not get the chance to study music academically. I was “self-taught.” But yes, I played music since I was a little kid and never stopped ever since joining local bands at a very early age of 14 and then kept popping from one band to another. One of those film students at the film institute in Cairo was looking for young starting composers to do scores for their graduation projects and stuff.

That is how I managed to infiltrate this community and penetrate the community because there’s no straight or clear channel two to become a part of the cinematic or the film community in Egypt, or I guess it’s everywhere.

The big questions become: How can I be one of them? How can I present myself? How can I be? How can I get myself? You keep knocking each and every door until one of them opens to you. And it does it, I mean, they will definitely open if you keep talking.

With social media, everybody has a platform, right? But there’s only so many that actually make it, including yourself. How difficult is that to navigate?

The magic of having platforms and digital platforms is that it allows everyone to get presented.

Back in old days, when a producer or director asked me for music, I would have to go home, make a cassette tape or a CD or whatever, and meet them again and send it to them and then gather again to discuss it. But now, I only have to send you a link or something.

It’s all a lot easier, but I think the catch is you do that and you present your work. You upload your work on each and every platform possible. I appreciate the time of those who are going to listen, so I try to make something different that will grab their attention, try to be as unique as possible and try to be as musically attractive as possible because that’s the only way to get the chance. Grab the attention of the decision-maker, which would be because he listens to thousands of tracks per hour each and every day so you need to stand out to grab their attention. Yes, the presentation is easier now, but it’s because there are too many composers. So you need to stand out in one way or another, which is good because it will keep pushing creativity to exceed other composers.

Since you said that you need to stand out in order to grab attention, in your estimation, what is it about your musical style that made you stand out?

I don’t know [laughs]. I may ask you that question if you find anything. But I think it’s kind of hard to say that about yourself, right? I just remember the first meeting Mohamed Diab, he told me he likes my music. He liked everything that I did before for various reasons. One of them is because my music is authentically Egyptian, yet it is used in a very unusual way. Sometimes you think it’s so traditional and all of a sudden it appears to be modern or hip or something.

That’s what I sometimes get from people. But if you ask me what is unique about my music, honestly, I’m in constant search for a new sound, a new approach, [a] fresh idea. And this constant search is what keeps me thinking, what keeps me up all night, and what makes me get up in the morning again.

Are there any projects that I can look out for that you can talk about?

I’m now enjoying the break, a much-needed break, really, after this incredible experience with Moon Knight and I’m reflecting and thinking about what the next step after this is. To me, each and every experience is unique in its own way, but this one is what was so big in every essence I’m just reflecting and thinking quite a bit.

Well, it is a well-deserved break. And I guess you mentioned that all your past music is on streaming. So if you had to recommend me one album to listen to her, or even, you know, could you do that?

I’d recommend The Blue Elephant, which is a movie I did in Cairo. The first one was released 2014 [and the sequel] was released in 2019. I may suggest Pharaohs’ Golden Parade, which was the last thing I did before starting on Moon Knight. It was a parade for the mummies of 22 Kings and Queens and brining the mummies from an old museum, the Tahrir Square in Cairo, taking them to a newer one. I wrote about another 50 something minutes of music and songs and they were performed live by a really grand orchestra [with] singers and a choir, uh, while transporting the mummies. I guess, I guess you’d find that [album] on my digital platforms (Apple Music, Spotify, etc.). But if you want to watch the video, you’d find it. I think you would just have to type “the golden mummy” on YouTube.

All six episodes of Moon Knight are streaming now on Disney+.

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Interview | Ariel Marx Talks Shiva Baby Score



Shiva Baby was one of the very best films of 2021. The claustrophobic film that takes place in real-time and revolves around one particular shiva in Brooklyn was something you can’t but get completely entrapped in. Much of the film’s success is owed to Ariel Marx, who composed the amazing score. The best way I can describe it, as seen in the interview, is full of tightly-wound strings a la the score for Midsommar. I had the privilege to speak to Ms. Marx about her work here that should be celebrated at the Oscars this Sunday, but I digress.

If you don’t mind me asking — I’ve asked a couple of other composers about this — and I would just love to hear your thoughts on the Oscars not televising eight categories, including Best Original Score. Is that something that matters to you?

You know, I feel mixed about it. Every person who works on a film is a part of it all and it’s hard to weigh the importance of one element over the other. It’s certainly disappointing; I feel very disappointed for the artists in the categories that were eliminated alongside composing. Again, it’s just hard for some artistry to be elevated over others.

The Oscars are a very visible and important award show, but at the same point, they aren’t everything.

And there’s so much that goes into filmmaking and everyone just plays such an important role. So I guess that’s where I stand on it, but, you know, I understand [that] they need to shorten the ceremony and I guess I’m a little ambivalent about it.

I mentioned Shiva Baby and I did want to ask you, how were you approached for this project?

I am in LA now, but I think Emma [Seligman] and I were both at NYU at the same time; [though] we did not interact really while there but I think was recommended to me by a colleague from NYU.

So that’s how we were introduced, and I had actually seen her short of the same name and I was totally blown away by it. So it was nice to just circle back around because it was a familiar title to me.

Were you already thinking of ideas for your score when you saw the short film?

What struck me about the short — beyond it being so brilliant, brave, and so unique — was how well it worked without a score. Emma was really deliberate about where she wanted music and where she didn’t.

I think a lot of the success of the movie is letting people sit in their discomfort. A lot of that has to do with moments that may typically have a score but didn’t. I was most blown away by how strong the storytelling was without a score thus the score could just be an additional element that added so much more, but it wasn’t guiding or necessary.

Did anybody or anything inspire your score? It’s so different than the tone of the movie? Shiva Baby is a claustrophobic film — not necessarily a horror film — yet the score kind of sounds like it’s from a horror film.

Emma knew that she wanted to have some sort of element of klezmer music in her score, but didn’t exactly know to what degree. That was the guidance that she gave to me, but she also knew that she wanted it [to be] very sparse and only in a few places. Ultimately, she was having ideas about kind of punctuating single sounds (nothing too big or lush), but just something to punctuate the moment, or cut the silence, et cetera.

And as a string player, I just sent her this big library of all these different sounds and pallets that could be made with a stringed instrument that aren’t necessarily what you expect from a classical instrument; and they are not necessarily pleasant sounds.

We then went through that library and she favorited all these different textures. We kind of got our heads together and the techniques that she was gravitating towards were the more dissonant, kind of violent ones. It then became clear that any sense of melody was not going to work, it was just too heavy-handed for this film. And so ultimately, the idea of klezmer music kind of settled and we didn’t end up using that anymore — obviously the violin is used in klezmer music — but it became much more about texture and tension and it is a horror score.

And I think what people have responded to is that it’s just like a very lucky mismatch in terms of the score. If this score was in a horror film, it would feel ordinary, but because it’s in a dark comedy, it feels so meaningful. So I thought that was such an interesting journey with her and she was so brave and so open and she’s just an amazing director with a really strong vision. She knows what she wants and she allowed me to play in unique ways, which I am just so fortunate for.

You mentioned that you’re a string player, which makes sense because of how prevalent it is in the score. Forgive me for my ignorance, can you explain the part the strings play in this score? The best I can do is say they sound “tightly wound.”

I’m just using techniques that are abrasive and dissident. I did a lot of circular bowing, Bartok pizzicato, and lots of drought intense pressure on the bow and the strings so it would not elicit any warm, round, beautiful sound, but more so something under stress. The instruments are fine [laughs], but these are more dissonant techniques that are very abrasive and traditionally not pleasant to listen to but very effective in communicating stress and claustrophobia.

Were there any other scores to see that kind of stuck out to you this past year?

Spencer, I also loved The Power of the Dog‘s score; I’m a big Jonny Greenwood fan. I also really loved Zola‘s score… I guess those would be the standouts for me.

And are there any projects that you’re working on now that you can talk about? I’d love to know what to look forward to.

I have a couple of series coming up that I’m very excited about. Unfortunately, I can’t say much right now, but it’s going to be a busy year with a couple of series as well as some films. It’s exciting, kind of new ways of cultivating my voice, and I’m really excited. I’m sorry I can’t be any more direct about them.

Thank you, White Bear PR for allowing me to speak to Ariel. Congratulations to Ariel on the wonderful score once again. You can listen to Ariel’s Shiva Baby score below.

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Academy Award Winner Graham Moore Talks His First Directorial Debut | The Outfit



Graham Moore is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter for The Imitation Game. Now, he set his sights on directing, as his directorial debut, The Outfit, is set to release on March 18. The film stars Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien, and Johnny Flynn and is like Reservoir Dogs meets the Kingsman movies. Good mob movies come very few and far between if your last name isn’t Scorsese, and Graham is able to balance a mob movie with a stage play quality with the film mostly taking place in one location. I spoke to Graham about his directorial debut, filming in one location, and working with the legendary Mark Rylance.

Check out the interview below:

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