You know Gabriel Mann as a musician, but are you aware he's also a composer? It's Mann who's behind the beautiful music of the Sundance TV original series "Rectify," and he spoke with AXS recently about his work on the program and some of his most memorable experiences in the business.
His composing history includes the hit comedy "Modern Family" and "Star-Crossed," but there's something special about "Rectify," which is gearing up for its third gripping season. "'Rectify' is a pleasure," Gabriel told us in our e-mail interview. "It’s still wonderful just to watch it. These long, mesmerizing scenes between characters I’ve grown to love - the silences, the beautiful darkness, the long form. I just love the show, and getting to write music for it is a treat."
While he loves both sides of his career, he enjoys the assignment that comes with composing. "That’s a big benefit, to collaborate on a larger project than my own artistic vision...where I get to participate in something bigger and more layered," he explained.
Highlights from the show's run so far include the piano waltz he composed for a bookstore scene in season one, several cello pieces performed by Vanessa Freebairn-Smith, a saxophone solo by Charles Burns heard in season two when Amantha (played by Abigail Spencer) is at the drive-thru, and a sample for string quartet that you can hear near the conclusion of season two as her brother and Daniel (Aden Young) rides his bike down the highway. Like the best composers, Gabriel is able to make use of a variety of instruments and artists to give the music a full life just like the characters he's scoring for.
As "Rectify" has gone on, Gabriel told us that the sound of the series has become simpler and more raw, with more instances of solo instruments either supporting or acting as counterpoint to moments on screen. While there are still epic selections from time to time, the score is often getting more out of less. For us, that's a refreshing change from a lot of music, where there's usually the push for bigger and better the second or third time around.
You might be surprised to learn that he studied composition in college, and his first job upon moving to California was working for a composer. But as is often the case, his career took him to other places, including The Rescues, producing Sara Bareilles' first album, opening for Alanis Morrisette, and a Christmas vs. Hanukkah show with Katy Perry before people knew Katy Perry. Another career highlight? A duet with his daughter. "That was pretty awesome," he enthused, "and I look forward to seeing her musical journey - and hopefully her younger drummer brother’s - blossom."
He's glad more people are learning about composing as well. "That people are interested at all is wonderful," Gabriel said. "Television music often goes unnoticed, so it’s always nice to have it recognized."
For more on Gabriel Mann, visit his artist page at AXS.