Here's an Archive of my 2004 interview with film and TV Music Supervisor Alexandra Patsavas discussing her work at the time on the Fox TV hit Series "The O.C.".
Alexandra Patsavas-Music Supervisor Extraordinaire
By Arlene R. Weiss
© Copyright 2004, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved
In 2004 I was honored to interview film and television music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas. Alexandra has directed the music selection, licensing, and placement for such critically acclaimed hit TV shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Rescue Me, Chuck, Gossip Girl, The O.C., Boston Public, Mad Men, Carnivale, Supernatural, and many more. She has also been the music supervisor for such motion pictures as the wonderful character study, Water For Elephants and The Dilemma. Alexandra has also supervised the music for all four of the films in the blockbuster Twilight motion picture franchise, (the fourth film in the Twilight series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 will be released this November 18, 2011 with Alexandra producing the soundtrack, which is due for release on November 8, 2011 on her own Chop Shop Records label).
Alexandra is also the founder and owner of Chop Shop Music Supervision, as well as Chop Shop Records which is partnered with Atlantic Records. Chop Shop Records not only releases many of the soundtracks for the movies and TV shows that Alex supervises music for, her record label also signs and champions new and exciting indie music artists. Currently Anya Marina, Mackintosh Braun, The Republic Tigers and Scars On 45 are just some of the new artists signed to Chop Shop Records.
Alex has come far since her early days booking a small music venue in Champaign, Illinois where the Chicago native first started out in the music industry.Alexandra then moved to Los Angeles and worked at BMI.She first began doing music supervision for many of the films of the great master of B-horror films, Roger Corman, and in 1999, she broke into doing music supervision for television shows.
These days, artists often see having their music licensed for motion pictures and TV as a very effective, financially lucrative and artistically positive promotional vehicle for showcasing their music and presence. This process often breaks artists to a wide audience, raising exposure and awareness for their music with critics, the music industry, radio, media, press, record labels, and fans…something Alexandra has long supported and has been doing for musicians.
Here’s a fond look back with Alexandra Patsavas, who at the time of our interview was enjoying the phenomenal success of the Fox TV Network hit show, The O.C.. Alex was the Music Supervisor for The O.C. and all six of its best selling soundtracks.
Alexandra Patsavas at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, Photo: Wikipedia
Arlene R. Weiss: The O.C. has become something of a phenomenon, not only in it becoming one of the most critically and commercially acclaimed new shows on television, but also in becoming a significant platform for showcasing a wonderful, eclectic range of talented music artists and styles, many who are below the mainstream radar. The show also utilizes music as more than a part of the mere background, instead integrating it into and as an essential, defining element that creates a part of the core of the storyline and characters.
Why did you choose to use music in such a manner for the show, and why do you typically seek out artists and music outside of the mainstream?
Alexandra Patsavas: Music just seems to be a natural part of the show. The show’s creator, Josh Schwartz, and the executive producers are all music fans and enjoy seeking out new material and new artists. I really feel strongly about supporting indie artists from the States and abroad.
Arlene: What is the submission process? How do you learn of artists and receive their music?
Alexandra Patsavas: I get music from many, many places. Record labels, managers, publishers and artists all submit CDs, demos and catalog alike for consideration. But I also read fanzines, peruse the store racks and listen to the radio to check out bands.
Arlene: How much time and work goes into licensing music?
Alexandra Patsavas: The licensing process is a huge part of music supervision. Every song has to be cleared and papered before the show is mixed and eventually aired. I start by researching ownership for both the synch and master. Requests are then sent out and fees negotiated with the master and synch owner. Finally, the song and use is confirmed by fax and the completed episode, with budget and cue sheet information, is turned over to the television studio for licensing and payment.
Arlene: Could you talk about the task of dealing with artists, managers, music publishers, lawyers and record companies when obtaining the legal rights and clearances?
Alexandra Patsavas: Dealing with rights holders is the key to successfully clearing a copyright for air. We all work together in order to gather the proper approvals at a price we can all agree on.
Arlene: Do you go out to live clubs and venues to check out new artists?
Alexandra Patsavas: I go to see live music all of the time. It’s such an important part of understanding the recorded material.
Arlene: Does living and working in Los Angeles, the center of much of the music industry, and being among an environment so nurturing to music open your ears up to a broader array of musical talent?
Alexandra Patsavas: I started my career in the music biz in Champaign, Illinois, booking a small rock venue, and I was always interested in regional as well as national music. Working in L.A. has made connecting with bands all over the world a much simpler proposition.
Arlene: Who are your main lifelong and current musical influences, and how much do they factor into the music selection process and mood and atmosphere that drives the show?
Alexandra Patsavas: My main musical influences are wide and varied and for fear of boring everyone to tears I’ll limit myself to a top 10. The artists include Neil Young, Elvis Costello, The Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, Radiohead, The Clash, Nirvana, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, and currently The Killers. Music seems to naturally find its way into each episode and works with the scene and the characters.
Arlene: How do you select and place songs that you know will make a perfect match and fit specific, pivotal episodes, scenes, moments, and characters, to create the right atmosphere?
Alexandra Patsavas: Music ends up in the show in so many ways. I send down weekly compilations to The O.C. so that the producers and editors can easily access current clearable tracks. Josh Schwartz often scripts songs that he loves and I clear those before the episode is even shot. Our amazing picture editors Norman Buckley and Matt Ramsey select songs that work beautifully and I pitch songs for specific scenes, sometimes from the script but usually to the already edited picture.
Arlene: Three favorites that come to mind that really created that “special” moment are South’s orchestral epic, “Paint The Silence,” which played when Ryan kisses Marissa for the first time on the Ferris Wheel in “The Heights,” Nada Surf’s bittersweet take on OMD’s “If You Leave” when Anna says goodbye to Seth in “The Goodbye Girl,” and Finley Quaye & William Orbit’s exuberantly romantic “Dice,” which played when Ryan rushes to be with and kiss Marissa as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve in “The Countdown.”
Alexandra Patsavas: “Dice,” maybe my favorite musical moment of the season, was scripted by Josh. The song actually got sent down to him on the first compilation I ever put together for the show. The song was unreleased in the States until after the show aired. “If You Leave” was created for the show by Nada Surf. Josh and I talked about a lot of different song possibilities for Anna’s goodbye sequence and determined that nothing current was working. He and Stephanie Savage suggested OMD’s 80’s classic “If You Leave,” and we immediately decided on Nada Surf. Serendipitously, the band was in the studio recording their new album and they took time out to do the track for us.
Arlene: In the past, having an artist’s music utilized on a TV show was considered to be a commercial sellout to their fans, but on The O.C., the opposite is true. Can you discuss how The O.C. has become the”cool” place for artists to be heard, seen, and to break out to a mass, diverse audience?
Alexandra Patsavas: We have had so much support and enthusiasm from the artists, music and business communities. The bands are fans of the show and have wanted to participate. As the music supervisor, I just have focused on what seems to work for the show and I haven’t focused on whether the artists that are working are major or indie… They just feel right.
Arlene: It must be very satisfying seeing artists you’ve profiled on The O.C. subsequently receive the recognition they deserve, like Jem, whose songs on The O.C. preceded and helped propel the release of her debut album. Indie band favorites Death Cab For Cutie, Interpol, Bright Eyes, and The Killers have also gotten more recognition, and wider public interest in seminal musicians such as Ryan Adams and the late Jeff Buckley has come from The O.C. as well.
Alexandra Patsavas: I’m so happy that all of these amazing artists are reaching larger audiences. It’s just great to see all of these inspired talented bands reaching more fans.
Arlene: Who are some of the artists who will perform at The Bait Shop, the live music club created for and written into the storyline for the season two?
Alexandra Patsavas: The Walkmen, Modest Mouse, The Killers, and The Thrills have already taped their episodes.
Arlene: The O.C. not only has its own official website, but it also has its own official “Music From The O.C.” webpage. That in itself displays the phenomenon that The O.C. has generated for artists and their music from the show’s buzz and momentum. You also created a contest on the website, “Enter The Mix,” where bands could enter and submit their music with the winner having their music appear on The O.C. How did that go and could you tell us about some of the entries and the winner?
Alexandra Patsavas: We got a slew of amazing entries and we went through every single submission over the summer. So much really great material from so many talented artists. The top five have been announced, the votes have been cast and the winner will be announced soon. [Author’s Note: On November 5, 2004 the winner was announced, Arthur Yoria, a Houston, Texas based singer, songwriter whose entry “Call Me” appeared on an episode of season two of The O.C.].
Arlene: With so many great artists and songs having their music heard on the show, how much of a challenge was it for you to select and choose the few sterling artists and songs that made the cut for release on the series of soundtrack record releases “Music from The O.C. – Mixes 1, 2, and 3”?
Alexandra Patsavas: It was very difficult to narrow down the tracks to the final soundtrack. We had many rounds of almost final CD’s with favorites tunes that eventually had to be cut.
Arlene: “Music From The O.C. Mix 2,” released October 26, 2004, includes a live track by The Walkmen, “Little House Of Savages,” as well as songs by The Album Leaf and Dios Malos, which are part of the as yet unaired upcoming season two. Whose idea was it to provide these advance treats for the show’s fans and the bands’ fans, to hear these songs, before, they even air on The O.C.‘s new season?
Alexandra Patsavas: We wanted “Mix 2” to include songs from the second half of last season, and the first few episodes of season two. The episodes for season two had already been shot, although they will not air before the CD is released.
Arlene: Tell me about the concept behind the title and album “Have A Very Merry Chrismukkah – Mix 3,” the 3rd release in “The Music From The O.C.” soundtrack series, also released October 26, 2004, and some of the featured artists and songs.
Alexandra Patsavas: The Chrismukkah CD was meant to celebrate the Cohen’s very favorite holiday and showcase some of our favorite bands doing both original and standard holiday songs. Some tracks were recorded specifically for the album, including The Long Winters’ “Christmas With You Is The Best” and Ben Kweller’s “Rock Of Ages.” Jimmy Eat World and Rooney did Christmas covers, and the rest are originals.
Arlene: What plans do you have for future music projects and releases for The O.C.?
Alexandra Patsavas: We will have some more artists play live in “The Bait Shop”, create a new cover or two and put out “Mix 4” in the spring.
Arlene: What is your favorite song that has been featured on The O.C.?
Alexandra Patsavas: A three way tie. Franz Ferdinand’s “Jacqueline,” The Perishers’ “Trouble Sleeping” and Bright Eyes’ “Blue Christmas.”
Arlene: What ultimate favorite “dream” music artists would you like to get to perform on the show or have their music be licensed for the show for a key scene?
Alexandra Patsavas: Dream scenario, right? The Clash performing “Clampdown” circa 1979.
© Copyright 2004, 2011, 2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved