From the start, director Derek Cianfrance had one band only in mind to score his movie “Blue Valentine”: Grizzly Bear. And the beloved Brooklyn independent band had happily and eagerly agreed.
But then the realities of modern moviemaking intruded.
“Derek contacted us about three years ago,” says Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste. “We were really excited. We were between albums, and we were ready. They hadn’t shot yet, and we couldn’t compose without seeing anything, so we were in a holding period.”
That “holding period” turned into extended delays as the shooting schedule for “Blue Valentine” was pushed back. Ultimately, by the time Cianfrance was ready for the band, it was promoting its breakthrough album, 2009’s “Veckatimest,” and couldn’t stop to score the picture.
“We’re not professional movie-scorers,” says Drost. “We haven’t done it before, and we knew it would take a long time for us. … It was such a bummer.”
With no new music to offer, Grizzly Bear threw open its three-album vault to Cianfrance. “We said, ‘You can have every album, take all our instrumentals, you can do anything you want,’ ” Droste recalls. “We knew the budget was limited. The smallest fee you can think of was fine.”
Remarkably, Cianfrance and his team were able to take the elements provided by the band and used some songs in recognizable form, but sliced and diced others to create an underscore that mirrors the movie’s desolate theme of a deteriorating marriage.
“You don’t know if any of it works until you put it up against the picture,” says music supervisor Joseph Rudge. “It just shows how well-produced their music is and how well it transfers over as a score.”
In the few spaces where Grizzly Bear material didn’t work as underscore, musician Matt Sweeney provided previously unreleased material.
Rudge hoped Grizzly Bear could at least provide them with one original song, but even that proved impossible. “We really wanted to give them something new,” Droste confirms. “But it’s a moot point,” adds Rudge, “because what we have on screen works so well.”
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