[embed-1] From the creators of last year’s Good Hair, Coki Productions is back with a brand new flick, Pop-Pop is Dead, scored by Susto and Babe Club’s own Corey Campbell. The film’s soundtrack also features songs from Jenna Desmond, also of Susto and Babe Club, Matthew Lohan from Dyado, and the High Divers.
In the story, the main characters, millennial couple Layla (Catherine Dee Holly) and Desi (Fray Forde) leave their Los Angeles home for Layla’s hometown of Gaffney, S.C. after her Pop-Pop passes away. The three-day trip proves a trying one. The film premieres at Buckhead Theatre on Wed. Aug. 29, but you can listen to the soundtrack now on Spotify.
We talked to Campbell recently about the music behind the movie and how he got involved with Pop-Pop is Dead. Here’s what he said:
CP: How did you get involved with the movie exactly in the first place?
CC: About a year ago I saw a short film by the title of Good Hair, made by my friend Catherine Holly. She was a writer, played a lead role, and also co-owns the production company (Coki Productions). Well, Catherine and I are from the same town (Gaffney S.C.) and we went to middle/high school together, and for the past few years I’ve thought about how cool it would be to get into film scoring. So I reached out to Catherine, just to see if there was anything I could help out with/do for a film they were making in the future.
This is where it gets weird. So unbeknownst to me, they were in the middle of writing a screenplay that was supposed to take place in Gaffney, and they were wanting to some how get someone from Gaffney to score it. I’ve got to point out, that there really can’t be very many people from Gaffney who are into film scoring. And here I was reaching out to them out of the blue, with no clue at all. After my short message saying I’d love to work on something, we had a phone call, talked about it, and then all of the sudden I’m responsible for all of the music for a feature-length film. (This is my first film score by the way, so it was pretty intimidating!)
CP: How is the movie scored?
CC: The score explores the full spectrum of Southern music. Since the movie takes place in a small town in South Carolina, we wanted the sounds to help paint that Southern picture. And besides two public domain fiddle tunes, the entirety of the score was created just for the movie. The genres range from some fiddle tunes, rockabilly/honky tonk, classic country, modern pop country, indie-folk, blues/rock and even an old school Muscle Shoals-ish groove.
Some of the songs were written/recorded before we even had a rough cut of the movie, just based on what we read in the script. We tried to create these mood pieces, and emotional mirrors for scenes. Those are mostly the pieces represented on the soundtrack because they’re stand-alone songs.[image-1]
Some of them however were composed very specifically for certain scenes. So I’d invite some players over, like Ross Bogan (organ), or Ky Baker (drums), and we would literally be watching the movie as we’re recording the takes you hear in the film. I’d give a direction like, “We’re gonna play until he drops the knife, and then we’ll come to a hard stop. When the lead character starts to scream, that’s where we’ll pick it back up. But more aggressive this time around.’ This part of the process was unbelievably fun, and such a great way to create music.
CP: Did you all join forces as one band or did you do different songs than, say, the High Divers?
CC: After getting the script and realizing how big the project was I knew i needed some other writers/composers to help flesh out the score. So I asked Jenna Desmond from Babe Club/Susto, Matthew Lohan from Dyado, and Luke Mitchell from The High Divers to help out and throw in a few songs. I’ve got to give a shout out to Julius DeAngelis from the High Divers because he played drums on 95 percent of this score. Really couldn’t have done it without him.
CP: What was each person’s role in creating the score?
CC: So my role was Music Director/Composer/Curator/Songwriter/Producer
Jenna Desmond Songwriter/Composer
Matthew Lohan Songwriter/Composer
Luke Mitchell Songwriter/Composer
CP: Who produced/was in charge of the score?
CC: That’s my role. I recorded/produced all of the Score/Soundtrack in my studio.
CP: What kind of feel were you going for when creating the score?
CC: We were going for a lot of different feels! An hour long movie has such a broad pallet of emotions to paint. Some scenes needed to have a really nostalgic flow to them, some scenes needed to be eerie and uncomfortable, some are really aggressive and need high energy. Some need to be sweet, and a lot of it needed to be funny! Since it was a drama/comedy, we really had a good time with the funny pieces like Matthew Lohan’s “Hey Chicken” or Ken Buck’s “Feelin’ Good Ain’t Bad.”
CP: What do you think of the movie and of the project as a whole?
CC: The film makers Catherine Dee Holly, and Fray Forde are super talented, and have made a great film! Really excited and honored to be a part of it. I have to admit, the project was a bit more extensive than I expected, but not a challenge I wasn’t up to. It’s always exciting to see something that you’ve created, are proud of, come out and see the light of day — make the journey from the dark studio into public light.