Published Nov 24, 2014Fans are used to seeing Edo Van Breemen as the frontman of jazzy Vancouver ensemble Brasstronaut, but these days the songwriter has been devoting most of his time to a different musical endeavour: film scoring.
Speaking with Exclaim!, Van Breemen explains that he has been immersed in scoring director Christian Cantamessa's Air, a dystopian sci-fi flick set in an underground bunker following a nuclear apocalypse.
"It was very intense narrative scoring," he says of the all-instrumental work. "I was working with the director on a daily basis. Because the movie only has two characters, the music had to imply a lot of the emotion that was going on. It was kind of like a subtext. We'd watch a scene and talk about the emotional beats that we'd have to hit."
Van Breemen goes on to note that he created most of the music using analogue synths, and he got outside assistance from Brasstronaut clarinet/EWI player Sam Davidson, violist Nadia Sirota (Grizzly Bear, Arcade Fire) and others. Van Breemen cites Giorgio Moroder, John Carpenter, Boards of Canada and Modeselektor as influences on the project.
"The director was really adamant about us developing particular themes," Van Breemen explains. "The movie has its own theme, some of the characters have their own theme. It's pretty musical. There are some scenes where it's super '80s. There's basically no percussion through the whole thing. We worked with pulses instead of percussion."
At the time of the interview, Van Breemen had completed scoring the bulk of the movie, with only the opening and closing credit rolls left to finish. He expects that the film will be out next year, with Walking Dead producers David Alpert and Robert Kirkman serving as two of the film's producers.
Watch a trailer for Air at the bottom of this page.
This is hardly the only score that the Brasstronaut singer has on his plate. Once Van Breemen is wrapped up Air, he will begin scoring Fractured Land, a forthcoming documentary about a British Columbia lawyer fighting fracking, the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Directed by Fiona Rayher and Damien Gillis, the film is expected out in 2015.
Although Van Breemen hasn't yet begun the music, he speculates, "I think it will sound more more organic than the Air score. It will have fewer electronic instruments."
He's been in touch with Mac DeMarco, Martin Courtney of Real Estate, and both members of Japandroids about contributing. It's possible that the score will include vocals and structured songs, rather than exclusively instrumental work.
Beyond that, Van Breemen recent scored The Backward Class, a documentary about education in India, which is currently making the rounds at Canadian film festivals. He and Sam Davidson also scored the short film Ship, which recently premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival, and Van Breemen is booked a small-town hockey drama called Hello Destroyer that's slated to be shot in Prince George, BC, by director Kevan Funk (who made Brasstronaut's "Mean Sun" music video).
There's also a documentary called Lost and Found about the objects that got washed across the ocean to North America during the Japanese tsunami of 2011. It's being directed by Nicolina Lanni and John Choi, the latter of whom has made music videos for Metric, Jim Cuddy, Sloan and more.
In between all of these scores, the composer is finding time to work on band projects. He's still collaborating with Zolas member Zachary Gray on a side-project called Unalaska, and he anticipates that they will begin to roll out songs before long. And Brasstronaut are well underway in the sessions for their new album; it will likely be self-titled and come out in the spring through Hybridity (with the overseas release on Tin Angel).
Van Breemen describes Brasstronaut as "democratic," with each member contributing their own material.
"There are a lot of songs that are way more upbeat than anything else we've done before," he says. "We just wanted to make lively music. Brasstronaut used to be an outlet for mellow, subdued stuff. The more we live apart and then we come together to play shows, the more we want to rock out a little bit."
It is largely being recorded at home, with the bed tracks laid down at Monarch Studios in Vancouver with Zolas member Tom Dobrzanski (Said the Whale, We Are the City). All of the songs are written, and much of the instrumentation has been recorded.
Keep an eye out for more from Van Breemen soon. He hopes to release his film scores soon — either as free digital streams or full-blown soundtracks, depending on the project.