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'Reach out to people you want to work with' The Girlfriend Experience composers on music kit & more

Mondo Boys are a two-man film music outfit made up of Mike Schanzlin and Mike Griffin. They have worked for producers Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and scored season two of Golden Globe-nominated TV show The Girlfriend Experience. Here they share their process, favourite kit and advice for up-and-coming composers with Mandy News.

16th January 2018
/ By James Collins

The Mondo Boys THEMONDOBOYS

Please introduce yourselves, tell us how you met and got into the industry.
MS: We're Mondo Boys - Mike Schanzlin and Mike Griffin. We met many years ago playing in a band in high school and were roommates through college while we pursued different creative areas. I went into the music industry and advertising world while Mike went to film school. 

After a stint at Capitol Records I was hired by a commercial music house where I was able to dive into music composition and production through hands-on experience. Mike G and I joined forces to score a film a few years back and found it to be an intense, cathartic experience so we've been doing it ever since.

MG: I went to film school because I really wanted to be involved in some level of filmmaking. That brought me close to a lot of filmmakers and I learned things that we apply every day to the filmmaking process because that's really what we're doing, making movies. From film school and working in the industry, we still have a lot of collaborators that came from that time.

What kind of kit/programs do you use to produce music?
MS: This varies from project to project but we mostly compose in Logic Pro, working with a mix of live instruments and synths. We do what we can to stay out of the 'gear head' mentality, so our focus is primarily weighted toward storytelling and capturing a performer/performance.

How did you get involved with The Girlfriend Experience?
MG: The editor of the show, Greg O'Bryant, recommended us to writer/director Amy Seimetz. They were exploring musical ideas so we produced some tracks based on the idea of "modern clean electronic score meets spaghetti western". We were really inspired by that so we made some demos and when they heard them, it seemed like they wanted us to score the show right away. 

It was a good match from the beginning and honestly stayed that way for the whole process. We wish we could have just kept going, to be honest.

Do you have any scores, soundtracks or composers you look up to/rate/love?
MG: John Williams' Star Wars, Jonny Greenwood, really excited for his Phantom Thread score and a lot of Disney movies where they integrate songs with score.

MS: Nino Rota is an all-time favourite. His score for Juliet of the Spirits makes you feel like you're stepping into another world. Also a big fan of modern guys like Johann Johannsson and Danny Bensi/Saunder Jurriaans who are doing more conceptual scores.

What is next for the Mondo Boys?
MS: We have a few features on deck for 2018 with a wide range of music needs, which should make for a fun year. We're currently working on a horror anthology, The Mortuary Collection with director Ryan Spindell that will have some very interesting music moments and themes weaving through multiple stories.

MG: I'm also writing a script that involves songs as well as a score because that's something we want to keep doing and hard to find a good story for it so I'm just writing it myself.

Do you have any advice for up and coming composers/people wanting to get involved with the music department?
MG: Learn more than just music. Understand story structure and a little bit about producing and directing a movie. Once you're on a project you won't be guided through so you have to know about what everyone else needs from you and what a story needs from you at any given time. Writing the music is the most important but weaving it in to the bigger picture is something that will separate you from the others.

MS: Reach out to people you want to work with and don't be afraid to share your music. Change your creative process often to keep things interesting. Write on unfamiliar instruments and with new people. Trust your gut and hold on to your beginner's mind.

You can listen to Mondo Boys' work on The Girlfriend Experience here.