Composer Anamog Talks Creating The Right Score For “Anomaly”
We recently had a chance to speak with composer Anamog, also known as Ryan Taubert, about his score to the short film “Anomaly”. Set against the space-race canvas of the 1960’s, “Anomaly” is inspired by the traditional Christmas Nativity and explores, through a modern-day lens, the events of two-thousand years ago. It is a story about relationships that intertwine around an unprecedented astronomical event, as a couple navigate life’s realities at a time of unfathomable significance. Read what he has to say about that film and some of the other projects he has recently worked on below.
-At what stage did you get involved with “Anomaly”?
Anamog: I got involved with the project through the director, Salomon Ligthelm. We had been working together for a couple of years previously before he approached me with the idea of the story. Originally it was just going to be about a three minute piece that I was scoring and then as he got other people involved it became a much larger project. Now a year later it has turned into a long, short film.
-What was the hardest part of scoring “Anomaly”? Was there a specific sequence?
Anamog: I think the most challenging part was pushing myself beyond what I’ve done in the past and trying to do something innovative with the music. Salomon was really particular with the music, so he was constantly pushing for experimentation with the sounds and never settled for something that felt cliché. It was one of the hardest parts of working on the film but also the most rewarding.
-Many people have taken away different things from “Anomaly”. What is one thing you hope the audience will take away from this film?
Anamog: It’s an abstract piece so it’s open for interpretation. I think people will get what they want out of it. Overall, it’s really about following these characters on a journey and exploring the relationship between humanity, the natural world and the cosmos.
-How much of “Anomaly” had you actually seen before you started the score?
Anamog: I hadn’t seen any of it. After having many conversations with Salomon we came up with the plan that I would write music without having any sense of the visuals. We would just focus on creating the most creative music possible while doing a lot of experimentation with sounds. So when they started filming it was about finding a home for those cues and then re-doing some of them to work with the scene.
-Did some of your cues actually influence the director’s decision about how to film them as well?
-When you are composing, what tends to be your method? Do you sit at a piano, at a computer or would you write?
Anamog: I have a keyboard in front of me, and I usually sit down with a piano first. I normally try to figure out what emotion I’m trying to represent. Then I start layering lots of textures to establish the world I am trying to create.
-In the opening scene of the film, it almost felt like you sampled a spaceship siren. Did you mean for that?
Anamog: Yes, we used a lot of organic sounds that weren’t even instrumental sounds in the music. So, for some of it you will be hearing Morse code type sound-effects, frequencies and also some air raid siren type of sounds.
-When people ask you to describe your music – how do you respond? How would you classify your sound?
Anamog: That’s a hard one. I would say my style has evolved over the years, at first it was more stock standard, very melodic and now it is more textural. If I were to sum it up, I would hope it would be immersive. Overall an immersive experience.
-Do you prefer to work with live orchestras or would you rather use computers and technology?
Anamog: Well, I like utilizing ‘live flares’ whenever I can, and I utilize live flares on “Anomaly” as well. I think I can go so far with the computer, but it just needs that imperfection from a human performance. I think right now technology has done really great, but I still feel like it doesn’t replace a live performance. So a lot of the textural sounds you hear in “Anomaly” are textural, solo, violin and cello sounds that have been layered. There is no way, I could have created that with the samples, so I definitely use both and then try to use as much live instrumentation as possible.
-Some of your music was recently used for the “Alien Outpost” trailer.
Anamog: It was actually one of the tracks from “Anomaly” that was used.
-How does it feel to you when you have some of your tracks replicated in different places? Do you get a different feeling/vibe from it?
Anamog: Well yes, it is interesting. Sometimes I’m not sure how I feel even though it’s cool to see it on another project, because I wrote the track in context of another story and it is used in a completely different way. It is interesting to see how it translates to other content and in that case of the trailer I think it worked pretty well.
-What is your favorite type of alien movie?
Anamog: Yikes! Alien movie… I don’t know.
-Or maybe did any alien / space-related movie stand out to you when you were growing up?
Anamog: You know what movie I used to watch, was the movie “Fire in the Sky”. I don’t know if you heard of that one. I used to watch it all the time growing up.
-You have produced music for a lot of different brands and commercials, such as the “Blackfish” documentary trailer and the “Out of the Furnace” trailer. Which ad did you enjoy working on the most?
Anamog: I did ads for the Lincoln Motor company that I really enjoyed. It required me to do a different style of music I had never done before which was kind of more Southern folk, with a fiddle sound. I recorded a fiddle player and some different types of guitar. That was a fun one. A lot of the things I’ve done are dark, textural and cinematic, whereas this one was more of a folky, fiddle playing sound which was really fun to create.
Was that easier to do because you’re from Texas?
Is that a common music from where you grew up?
Anamog: It is actually. That’s the type of music I heard growing up, especially growing up near the border of Louisiana. Which was where the Lincoln Motor commercial was based at, so the setting kind of surrounded that.
You can learn more about Anamog at www.anamog.com
You can watch “Anomaly” here: https://vimeo.com/115329271