Owen Pallett Discusses Working on the Oscar-Nominated ‘Her’ Score with Arcade Fire and Spike Jonze
It's been a surreal week for Owen Pallett. The Canadian composer, string arranger, and pop artist went from performing with Arcade Fire in Haiti to having dinner in Los Angeles with some of the world's most renowned composers, including John Williams, Burt Bacharach, and Randy Newman, in the span of just a few days.
Such is the life of a multi-talented musician who was nominated for his very first Academy Award this year, for his work on the score for the Spike Jonze film, Her.
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"It's been amazing to be in Oscar land and hang out with these incredible film composers," says Pallett from Los Angeles, where he's attending several Oscar week events. "We all had dinner last night in the back room of a bar on Wilshire. Just the composers and some of the executives from the music branch of the Academy. The guy who wrote 'Killing Me Softly' was there, and Randy Newman and Burt Bacharach. They're both Academy members and huge inspirations to me as a songwriter. They were all amazing. I felt like the redheaded stepchild in the room."
The 34-year-old is the go-to string arranger and composer for several notable indie bands, not the least of which is Arcade Fire, whose unique brand of orchestral pop won them a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2011. After meeting through mutual friends in the Canadian music scene and playing on the same bill several times in the early 2000s, Arcade Fire asked Pallett to contribute to their 2004 debut album, Funeral.
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"It was immediately clear that this was an important and serious record being made," Pallett says. "I've been on an unspoken retainer with them since that date and I can tell they're working on a different plane than other bands."
Pallett had worked with Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Regine Chassagne on the score for the 2009 thriller The Box. The band tapped him once again to help them with the string arrangements and overall composition of the Her score. "They know what my strengths are and what I bring to the table," Pallett says. "They needed a clear connection between the band and Spike. Some elements needed to be scored so they brought me in to score them. It was about a six-week process."
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