Tuesday 18 October 2016

Interview with Sully Composers Christian Jacob & Tierney Sutton

Varese Sarabande recently sat down with composer Christian Jacob and Tierney Sutton who worked on and wrote music for the Clint Eastwood directed film starring Tom Hanks about the airline captain who landed a commercial plane on the Hudson River.

1. Describe the SULLY soundtrack on Varese Sarabande.

Christian Jacob: The Tierney Sutton Band (TSB) has been together for over 20 years and has been known for its collaborative process of arranging music. The scoring began with an improvisational approach over several themes written by both the director (Clint Eastwood) and myself. Every member of the band was watching scenes on the screen and improvising their own parts by following a basic lead sheet. We know each other so well, that our musical ideas fell beautifully in place. We each brought something special to the various moments of the music. Director Clint Eastwood was present during the entire recording process and guided us while still allowing us complete freedom. I later added orchestral parts on some of the cues to give them more depth.
2. Which scene did you score first and why?
Tierney Sutton: We scored the film from the first scene to the last. Then spent a few weeks perfecting the cues. We spotted the film again with Clint and decided which cues could be "sweetened" with orchestra and then Christian orchestrated those and wrote the end title suite. While he did that, I worked on lyrics for Clint's theme and one of Christian's.
3. Did the director give you any interesting instructions or feedback to help you create the tonal palate?
Christian Jacob: Being a fan of Tierney's beautiful voice and of the band for the last 10 years, Clint was very familiar with our "sound", and he believed we could bring something interesting to his film. Because Clint had used some of our recordings in the temp music for the film, we had a good idea of what he was looking for. He guided us with a soft touch and was interested to see where we would put a music cue, even when he felt nothing was needed there. He would also give directions by mentioning his preferences like:  "only piano there"; "let’s try one with more space", "have just the bass and voice there", etc.
4. What does it mean to you to have your music released by the pre-eminent soundtrack label?  What is your favorite Varese Sarabande title in your collection?
Tierney Sutton: Having Varese Sarabande release the soundtrack is a singular honor. I am a fan of so many of the composers whose work has appeared in Varese releases -- the modern masters like Michael Giacchino, Alan Silvestri and John Debney as well as the classic film composers like Alex North. This is truly the icing on the cake of the experience of creating the score for "Sully".
5. What kind of ensemble did you use to record the score?  Did you use any interesting or unusual instrumentation or soloists who deserve a shout-out?

Christian Jacob: While some moments in the film were colored by single instruments such as piano, drums or voice, the central nucleus of the soundtrack was the sound of our band: piano, bass, drums and voice. The natural way to expand on the band's personal sound was orchestral.

The first track of the Sully soundtrack is an orchestral Suite with the band being featured. It recapitulates all four themes of the movie and features every member of the band. It was intended for the end credits of the film but we ended up only using part of it. Besides the irreplaceable Tierney Sutton, Trey Henry, Kevin Axt and Ray Brinker, we had the very best musicians in the orchestra and the wonderful Conrad Pope conducting.

(Photo Credit: Dave Alloca) (Christian Jacob & Tierney Sutton at the NY premiere of Sully)
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