You probably don’t know it yet, but Michael Andrews is one of your all-time favourite musicians. Sorry to break your brain…but it’s true. His musical scores have appeared in cult classics like Freak and Geeks and major box office hits including Donnie Darko and Bridesmaids. You can find Michael Andrews in the studio right now focusing on his own projects including his 2012 release “Spilling A Rainbow.” Michael took some time to answer some questions for OCR.
OCR: You have a long standing working relationship with director Judd Apatow. How did you guys meet? What was your first project together?
MA: We met through Jake Kasdan, he brought me in on Freaks and Geeks shortly after working on his movie Zero Effect with my group Greyboy Allstars.
OCR: You worked with Judd on the cult-classic TV series Freaks and Geeks. Reflecting on your own high school career, which character from the show do you relate to the most?
MA: I was not really in any particular group in high school. I was both freak and geek I guess. I played in bands, surfed, and studied.
OCR: You’ve written scores for numerous comedy movies including Bridesmaids, Donnie Darko, The Five Year Engagement, Bad Teacher, and Cyrus. How do you cater music to situational comedy scenes? Are you given a theme to base your scores on or do you sometimes view scenes to get a vibe?
MA: I usually just watch the movie and come up with something. That may sound simplistic but that’s the simple version of it. I usually just play it straight. I try to just write music that doesn’t talk down to the viewer, treat them like they need me to guide them through the emotional beats of the movie or TV show.
OCR: What is one of the most difficult challenges you encounter when writing scores? Do you have a sure fire way to vanquish writer’s block?
MA: I just write music everyday and I don’t think too much about it. Most days something comes out and I don’t put too much pressure on myself to come up with a jewel. The most difficult challenges are avoiding the phone and distractive emails and internet.
OCR: Outside of writing music for movies, you have your own side projects. Your latest release is Spilling a Rainbow. How does this creative process differ from writing for a movie? Is it easier to write music when it comes straight from your own personal interests and experiences?
MA: The process of writing my own music is different from film music primarily because I have the last word. All the music I write I try to stay fresh with it. I try not to labor over it too much. I just write and record. My records have my voice on them so that is another difference, and with my voice come my lyrics and personal experience. As I do with scores, I just try to make something I really like, or at least won’t be embarrassed by in a few years.
OCR: Do you feel more self-conscious when writing music that is more personal and close to home?
MA: I think I feel more self absorbed. I try to wait until I just can’t put it off anymore before I write my own records, that way I feel like I can’t avoid it. The songs come out quickly and the process is over before I know it. This way I only feel the embarrassment of being self absorbed for a short time. When I am on a film there is the idea of serving the film, which does give me a bit of distance and safety. That said, when I am in the theater with folks watching the movie, I would be a liar if I said I was not self conscious.
OCR: Spilling a Rainbow captures the emotions and experiences encountered during parenthood. How did becoming a father shape the landscape of your creative expression? Would you consider the musical documentation of your journey into parenthood an epic lullaby?
MA: If you want to call it that I would not disagree. It is simply how I felt in the first couple years of parenthood. I felt an overwhelming amount of love for my family at this time and I was hyper aware of all of our experiences.
OCR: The song Music for Cell Division is very experimental. The song does not have any verbal lyrics and yet there is a strong sense of story. It joins initially soothing sounds with progressively more aggressive sounds that border a kind of science-esque vibe. Can you describe the narrative you were telling with this soundscape?
MA: This music was written to my wife’s 3D motion ultra sound. Life in the womb is pretty Sci-Fi.
OCR: You are a self-proclaimed “obsessive classified ads addict.” What is the craziest thing you have seen in a classified ad? What is the most treasured item you have procured from a classified ad?
MA: It’s not so much the things in the classified ads that are crazy, it’s the people who are selling the things. I have accumulated so much stuff now I don’t need much, so now I am just digging for that needle in the haystack. My brown Martin I bought in San Diego in around 1990 is the most prolific instrument I have owned, therefore my favorite.
OCR: What’s next for Michael Andrews?
MA: Immediately this month I will finish the follow-up to Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids called The Heat. Then both The Heat and Mira Nair’s Reluctant Fundamentalist will be released in April I believe. I will continue to work on Ben and Kate until the end of the season…ten more episodes or so. Greyboy Allstars Inland Emperor comes out in April, we will be touring for that. I also have a couple other records I am working on that could be released in the next few months. I hope to get into another solo album as well. All the while I will be hopefully playing with my group out around town and beyond playing tracks from solo records “Hand On String” and “Spilling A Rainbow.”
Head over to Amazon and iTunes to check out Michael’s music!