How Grizzly Bear’s Christopher Bear Went From Scoring ‘High Maintenance’ to ‘Soul of SOHO’


Call Christopher Bear the "unintended scorer." The longtime Grizzly Bear drummer/multi-instrumentalist by no means supposed to dive head-first into writing scores for movie and tv, however after befriending ex-wife and husband workforce Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair 5 years in the past and placing collectively a "few issues" for his or her then-Vimeo sequence High Maintenance, he received drawn into the composing world when the weed supply anthology present made the soar to HBO in 2016.

And he undoubtedly didn't plan on that happenstance gig resulting in his first movie scoring job, for the upcoming documentary The Soul of SOHO.

"It was clear I used to be going full-on into this and so they [Sinclair and Blichfeld] requested if I'd be enthusiastic about doing an entire season, which was completely up my alley," says Bear, 36, of the request that got here in in 2012 when Grizzly Bear was in between albums. Bear had simply constructed a studio within the dwelling he was dwelling in on the time and tells Billboard that he thought the flip into the scoring could be an attention-grabbing new expertise as a result of he'd already established a good relationship with the pair. Plus, the three of them "musically spoke the identical language." 

Like, as an illustration, when Sinclair and Blichfeld mentioned they needed “one thing that’s received this really feel of Ethiopian funk, however not precisely that,” it one way or the other made sense to Bear, so he whipped up that sound for them and so they beloved it. The relationship blossomed over the present's first run on-line kind 2012-15, however then Grizzly Bear launched their 2017 album, Painted Ruins, and Bear was again on the street in band mode.

The finish of the tour coincided with the ramp-up of the present third season of High Maintenance, which once more discovered Bear creating quite a lot of soundscapes for the sequence, from ambient washes to the frantic, jarring soundtrack to the just lately aired, must-see dangerous mushroom journey episode, "Fingerbutt."

The time constraints of filming and the creator's usually inscrutable creative whims helped push Bear out of his consolation zone, resulting in extra tracks with drum machines and programmed synth sounds that he usually doesn't use within the band. "It's a unique facet of the mind, however not a very totally different mind-set about music once you're not as involved about making one thing that appears like a tune or has a standard tune construction," he says of the problem of cooking up "20 seconds right here or there that must take you from Point A to Point B." 

That break from extra conventional songwriting in favor of "sonic palettes" with out lyrics and a few admittedly "janky, MIDI-based" tracks additionally helped Bear put together for his greatest problem so far: writing the rating for the primary unique brief movie from the journey/leisure start-up Culture Trip, The Soul of SOHO.

The 25-minute documentary, slated to premiere on Saturday (March 9) on the Austin Motel in throughout the SXSW FIlm Festival, takes viewers on a visit by means of the long-lasting Soho neighborhoods in London, New York and Hong Kong in an "exploration of the connection between folks and the locations they inhabit," in line with a launch asserting the mission.

"They received in contact about this mission and mentioned, 'We don't have something to point out you now,' however I had a while and it appeared like an attention-grabbing mission," he says. Without something aside from the thought to work from, Bear racked his mind for sounds that made him consider the 2 Sohos he was fairly accustomed to (admittedly missing information in regards to the Hong Kong one).

Though his first demos had been impressed by listening to songs that instantly recall to mind visions of these areas -- suppose the Velvet Underground for New York -- the tracks ended up feeling a bit by-product. Bear despatched a few of these sketches to director Keith Musil, who responded with an ask for music that unified the three Sohos fairly than mentioning their variations.

"So I began entering into that route, and fairly than attempt to characterize these locations as, 'This is the New York sound,' it turned much less about location and extra in regards to the character's relationship with the town and their relationship with the neighborhood," Bear says of the subtly propulsive, moody and ambient sound sketches that underscore the tales of artists, restauranteurs, tailors, radio DJs, dancers and drag performers who've made a house and a life within the numerous Sohos.

"The story may be very a lot about the entire folks interviewed and their relationship to their neighborhood," says Bear of the music, which manages to be unobtrusive and bubble underneath the vignettes whereas additionally jauntily transitioning between the character sketches.

"I didn't need it to really feel too stamped to older time durations, but additionally didn't need it to all be entice beats," he says. "I used to be asking, 'How can we nonetheless make some music that’s digital, but additionally leaves room to let these melodies and extra melodic emotional moments come by means of?'"

“Our objective for The Soul of SOHO was to make a movie that reveals the spirit of those neighborhoods in ways in which a journey information can’t,” says Daniel Montalto, the movie's government producer. (Disclosure: I labored with Montalto at MTV News.) “We transcend an off-the-cuff go to and delve into the lives of the creatives who make these areas extra than simply locations on a map, but additionally thriving communities.”

Feeling assured about his work on SOHO, Bear says he's excited to begin diving into some new solo music, with no explicit mission in thoughts for the time being. "I've years of unfinished demos and songs that will really feel good to complete, whether or not they get launched of not," he says. "Now that I'm off the street for some time fairly than having some full-on down time I'd fairly be reinvesting in issues I've labored on in previous."