Killing Eve music supervisor Catherine Grieves shares her TV and movie journey so far
Catherine Grieves is a music supervisor known for her work on Phoebe Waller-Bridge's new series Killing Eve, Collateral, Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here, The Musketeers and Wolf Hall. Here she tells Mandy News how she got started, what the responsibilities of a music supervisor are and how to get into the music department for TV and film.
Please introduce yourself and tell us how you got involved in music, and then the film industry.
I’m a music supervisor for film and television and I also work as an agent for media composers at Faber Music in London. Music has been a big part of my life from a very early age. I’m classically trained in flute and piano and I have always sung. I’m also from a big family who love music, and spent my teens raiding their records, discovering and obsessing over old and new artists and albums from Nick Drake to David Bowie, Pearl Jam to Roxy Music and Joni Mitchell, and a lot of Northern Soul.
I studied the Tonmeister Music and Sound Recording degree at the University of Surrey, which gave me a break into the music industry, leading to a job at HotHouse Music, who are a UK based film music supervision company.
I learned a lot working on some big films like Les Miserables, Ridley Scott’s The Counselor and Sing Street, while also gradually building up my own television supervision projects like London Spy and Wolf Hall, and working with some great composers on shows like Sherlock and Luther.
I joined Faber Music last year, to manage their media department, looking after their roster of top UK film and TV composers, as well as continuing to develop my music supervision work.
Killing Eve is currently on BBC Atlantic, a show which you worked on as music supervisor. How did you get involved in the project?
I’d worked with the production company Sid Gentle Films previously, having been music supervisor on a BBC war drama called SS-GB, and with the series producer on the BBC’s The Musketeers. I am also a huge fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge following her debut comedy-drama series Fleabag, so I was itching to be involved...
How did you approach working on the series? What was process and turnaround for delivering an episode?
The series was really exciting to work on, as everyone wanted to have a fresh approach with the soundtrack from the start. We wanted to explore having a featured artist involved in the soundtrack, with a strong female voice, to reflect the two complex female protagonists in the show, as well as a score composer.
David Holmes was a perfect fit for the project, bringing his female-fronted band Unloved to the table, as well as a great original score. David is also an incredible curator of music, and made a lot of great commercial track suggestions too.
The process, as is usually the case with multi-episodic television, involves a quick turnaround from locking an episode to the final mix. This means that there is often only a short time to decide creatively on a track and clear the rights. It can take a lot of detective work to find rights owners, particularly on older, lesser-known songs, so I had some very close-to-the-wire moments.
You have also worked on Les Miserables and and The Mortal Instruments as assistant music supervisor and score supervisor respectively. Could you tell us a little bit about those roles and the biggest challenges you faced in each?
The role of a music supervisor can have many guises. Often it will involve trying to clear a wide range of music, which I did recently for Lynne Ramsey on You Were Never Really Here - everything from the publishing rights to Bernard Hermann’s shower scene music from Psycho that Joaquin Phoenix imitates, to the music in film clips that play on TV in the background of scenes, to commercial pop songs - and then sourcing alternatives when the budget is prohibitive.
However on a musical or music themed film, a music supervisor will look after the whole music budget on a film, and is responsible for co-ordinating every aspect of music, from pre-record sessions, on-set music and musicians, sourcing composers, score recording sessions, as well as any song research and licensing.
Les Miserables was an epic project, involving anything from co-ordinating microphone test sessions for recording live on set, sorting in-ear monitors for cast, organising vocal coaching, ensuring scores are continually updated and distributed, to booking vocalists, musicians, music editors, programmers, engineers, studios – the list is endless - often with just hours notice, and all within budget.
A score supervisor or score co-ordinator manages the score record budget on behalf of a production company or composer, and co-ordinates the recording. This often involves advising on the best option to get the best results within a certain budget, considering things like recording location, number of musicians, and the best music personnel to hire for the project, especially if a composer is new to working in film.
I’ve recently worked in this capacity with contemporary classical and opera composer Thomas Adès on his stunning debut film score, for the upcoming Keira Knightly film Colette, where I co-ordinated an experienced film music team (programmer, copyist, engineer etc) to support the technical elements of writing to picture and creating demos during the writing process, so that Thomas could focus on composing.
What do you have planned for 2018 and beyond?
I have a couple of new projects in the pipeline, including series two of Killing Eve, which I’m delighted has been recommissioned already. I have also just helped launch a new publishing division at Faber Music called Faber Alt., where we are developing a roster of alternative and crossover writers and artists.
We have signed some great new artists like ambient-electro singer songwriter Henry Green and Mesadorm, an indie electronica band fronted by Blythe Pepino formerly of Vaults. It’s really exciting to be working with talented artists and music that I love.
What advice do you have for people wanting to get involved in the music department and, more specifically, as a music supervisor?
I think it’s important to go into it knowing what’s involved and that the creative side of selecting songs is just a small part of the job and, even then, it’s always a collaboration. It’s a lot of problem solving and finding compromises, with a lot of time spent negotiating fees and paperwork, so you have to know your stuff in terms of licensing and copyright.
It’s a really varied and interesting job, and a privilege to work with great music and composers every day.Tags: