So it’s been twenty years since Massive Attack’s Mezzanine was released and Neil Davidge from the band is till working damn hard but this time on OSTs for two hit current TV series,’ Hard Sun and Britannia.
With an extensive background in scoring, Neil spoke with The Fountain about the process of composing music for visuals, and those that he would love to score.
TF: Twenty years of Mezzanine, wow, you must be ecstatic?
Ummm, not particularly, it doesn’t seem that long ago, it feels like ten years at best. I know I’ve been busy but that went really quick!
TF: And you have also composed the score for this successful new series, Britannia, a fab year for you already Neil?
Yeah, and the TV series Hard Sun, I wrote both of those last year. I’ve had a good run, I’ve been lucky but I’ve worked damn hard and I still don’t take anything for granted.
TF: And this is certainly not the first time you have composed an OST, how do you find the process?
I’ve been scoring pretty much since I started with Massive Attack. The early opportunities came through them and culminated in my first full movie score Unleashed. As much as I loved working with the band I felt even more at home composing so it was kind of inevitable (looking back) that I’d eventually focus on that side of the industry.
I think what I love about it is that I’m telling a story, and I don’t have to write the story, I provide the emotional context, cues and atmosphere that takes the audience through the ups and downs. It’s not easy, it’s incredibly hard at times and frustrating but when it comes together there’s a certainty that I never really found in making albums. I also have a lot less time so I have to be decisive, a great deal of freedom comes from knowing the first idea generally has to be the one!
TF: And is this something that you are likely to play live, taking it to concert venues?
I’ve not thought about performing any of the scores live, it would be quite an undertaking. The kind of thing I do isn’t straight ahead orchestral and it’s not purely electronic. It’s a combination of live, electronic and orchestra… there would probably be more people on stage than watching!
But maybe, if Britannia keeps going from strength to strength. I just love working on the show and with the characters to be honest, I get such a buzz out of it.
TF: If there was one film or series you would have your heart on to score, which would it be?
A TV adaptation of the Grant Morrison graphic novel The Invisibles, that would fun, or maybe Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis