Nathan Johnson Scores “Young Ones” at Studio Trilogy in SF

Pictured at Studio Trilogy is composer Nathan Johnson recording a programmable music box with two Neumann KM 84 mics in an X-Y configuration.

Pictured at Studio Trilogy is composer Nathan Johnson recording a programmable music box with two Neumann KM 84 mics in an X-Y configuration.

San Francisco, CA, February, 2014 — Innovative scoring composer Nathan Johnson ventured from his homebase in Los Angeles to work at Studio Trilogy in San Francisco on the music for sci-fi thriller “Young Ones.” The film debuted with strong reviews at the Sundance Film Festival where Steven Spielberg, godfather of director/screenwriter Jake Paltrow, attended the screening.

In addition to recording strings with San Francisco’s Magik Magik Orchestra at Trilogy, Johnson recorded one of the film’s themes with a music box he programmed. “The music box was less programming and more just punching holes in a paper strip with a hole puncher. In this version it essentially only has the white keys of a piano, so I wrote the melody for that and then wrote the rest of the music around it. I worked with the string ensemble, but then there are also synthesized elements. The music for this film is very melodic, but mostly horns and strings are the lead instruments.”

The film stars Michael Shannon, Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult and Kodi Smit-McPhee. A hybrid of Western and sci-fi genres, Paltrow’s second film is a tale of revenge set in the future when water is scarce and many have fled a barren land in search of a better life. Those who’ve stayed behind manage as best they can, but easily turn on each other.

As a composer, producer, art director, and songwriter, Nathan Johnson’s innovative film scores and hybrid media performances have consistently blurred the lines between stage, screen, music, and narrative. Best known for his unconventional work in film and music, Johnson favors modified, organic instrumentation combined with unique approaches to recording and performing.

“I worked with the Magik Magik Orchestra previously on the film “Looper,” but this was the first time I worked at Studio Trilogy,” Johnson explained. “It was perfect — not only a great studio, but great musicians and recording engineer Justin Lieberman did a really fine job, making it a really smooth session. In addition to all of that, the studio has a nice apartment and it’s so comfortable when you’re in a different city working on a project that you don’t have have to think about all that. You just wake up and walk across the hallway to the studio and then at the end of the day you head back and hit the sack.”

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