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- Posted on Oct 22nd 2010 4:30PM by Jason MacNeil
"I've done stuff for all of his past documentaries," Beck tells Spinner of the doc that debuted at this year's Toronto International Film Festival and makes its television debut Oct. 24. "So as soon as he told me was going to be making one, there was always the seed of an idea that it would be happening down the line."
Beck says the biggest hurdle was simply getting into a mental framework. "It's always exciting to shift my way of thinking into a more cinematic head space -- serving a picture rather than serving an ego."
His working relationship with Shapiro seemed to give him more creative leeway with this score. "Because we worked together so many times there really is a bit of a carte blanche," Beck says. "He really just encourages me to go with what I'm feeling, and if something is not working for him, he'll tell me why in a very simple explicit way. We're always on the same page so it's a real pleasure to work that way."
As for the music pieces in 'How to Start Your Own Country,' Beck particularly enjoyed the music for the Sealand segment, something he describes as "pretty orchestrated and dark" that made him feel as though he was "scoring something like 'James Bond.'" He also found another lengthy piece engaging for its "less is more" blueprint.
"There was one really, really long music cue, and it was under talking heads for a long time," he says. "What was interesting about that was if I was to be making music without a picture for a piece that long, it would have been something much more dramatic by the end. But you're unable to do that because then it starts biting into the dialogue. It's a really interesting exercise to do that without the music becoming more dramatic and overtaking the scene.
"These are things that really don't exist in the pop world. When there's dialogue, your focus is different, your aural focus is on the voice, so it's just a very different experience."
Beck says he watched the world premiere as part of TIFF and thought it was great.
"I promised myself that when I was at the screening I wouldn't just be listening to the music, I was going to try and watch the film as a whole," he says. "It's like listening to a record that I just worked on, it's hard for me to just listen as an objective observer without becoming involved."
"I'm not sure how to do that," he laughs, "Maybe I need to smoke a lot of weed."
The musician says he'll be doing some producing later this year, as well as mixing Chilly Gonzales' next album. Beck also says that he's toying with the idea of possibly releasing a compilation album of instrumental music that he's made for film culled from the last 10 years, but nothing is confirmed.
"I tend to work on very different projects from one to the next," he says. "I could never just be a film composer or just a songwriter or just a producer. I love bouncing from one thing to the next, and challenging myself that way."
One thing Beck is sure of, though, is what his own 'micro-nation' would consist of if he had one.
"Myself, my cats, and basically [it would] just be my apartment -- that would be it," he says. "I would make people coffee. And they could only have one kind of coffee, there wouldn't be different lattes. I would just make an espresso with some steamed milk... maybe the stamp passport would be coffee."
And what would be the name of this new nation?