THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC
Anyone with ears will know that the music of Being Human is, of course, awesome. To find out how these iconic tracks were chosen we caught up with Ross Sellwood, the Music Supervisor for series 1 & 2, to shed some light (and sound) on the subject...
You're a Music Supervisor... What is that?
We find the music for a series, negotiate a fee to licence it with the record labels and publishers who own it and try to convince the artists and their managers that it's a good series to be involved with.
We also work with the composer, mostly when they want to test out ideas. Actually, the majority of the music (and definitely some of the best music) in the series is specially composed by Richard Wells, so I should be clear we're talking about the licenced tracks here (anything with words in really)
How do you and the directors decide which music tracks to use in the series?
You'd have to include the editor in that question... he makes it work or fail with the pictures. So if he doesn't think it works, then it's all over pretty quickly.
The big questions we ask are what emotions are you (the audience) going to be feeling and what are the characters feeling. Music can do a lot that dialogue can't. It can foreshadow something, remind you of something, tap into the primitive brain, bring out a message or develop a theme and it can stimulate a range of emotions in a sequence that would be a lot less compelling without it.
Generally, we try mix it up with some achingly hip new artists, some more established ones... and a few that seem a bit random, but somehow really work. Then we hope it all hangs together.
There's also a large measure of bloody-minded determination in the decision process, which is very important.
What is your favourite use of music in a scene from eps 1-4?
Probably all of episode 1.
The Cure was the hardest one to get right - it was the 28th track we'd tried on that sequence. Seriously. Willy Mason's track "Simple Town" for when George + Nina are falling apart was an idea I had for a completely different scene. (Actually, I think it was probably an idea for that Cure scene...) And The Accidental "Time and Space" had just the perfect tone and message and for me, just stuck to pictures the first time we tried it.
Also Mumford and Sons "Sigh no More" in episode 2 - it's a 2 minute sequence (which is a very long music cue) and it's such a powerful scene the music had to be spot on and I think this track nails it. I think the band liked it as well...
Finally, Farewell to My Friend - Loner (actually an early idea for the Mumford and Sons sequence...) which was a really personal song for the guy who wrote it and he really likes the use as well. It's the last track in ep 2. If you cried a bit with this one, that's ok. There's no shame in that.
Do you and the directors ever have arguments over music?
Haha - yes. Some really good ones too, but that's not the norm and it's a good thing because people should feel very strongly about music. Each of the tracks we use has a real purpose to it. Nothing's in there casually - there's no musical wallpaper - and there's a lot of "spirited debate" about some of it.
What have you learned from doing the series one music that you've carried into series two?
Back up your music searches to an external harddrive so when you accidently delete a whole folder instead of just one tune, you don't have to cry in the office.
Are there any tracks you could change if you had the chance?
No. There are some I wish we didn't have to change. But we do when we can't afford them or get permission to use them...
Can you give us a hint as to some of the music in episodes 5-8?
There's an episode set in the 60's with probably the best opening track yet. I wish I could say it was my idea, but the director aced that one.
Ep 6 has a lot of tracks from people with crazy European accents. If I was writing this after ep 6 had gone out, I'd probably have to add another couple of tracks to the favourites list.
And there's some 16th century Italian chorus and possibly some country. But we're still working on 7 and the last episode and I can't say how these will sound. Not because I'd be giving anything away, but because I really still don't know how these will sound.
Except that they'll sound really, really good. Obviously.