Manic for the music
|Hear excerpts of an interview with "Dirt" creator Matthew Carnahan|
|Hear excerpts of an interview with Kevin Edelman, the music supervisor for "Dirt"|
By Lesa Griffith
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Lesa Griffith
In a recent episode of "Dirt," schizophrenic paparazzo Don Konkey, played by British actor Ian Hart, has an other-plane-of-reality experience in his dark cave of an apartment while vintage steel guitar warbles in the background.
As Konkey's aural sedative, Hawaiian music is regularly featured on the new FX series "Dirt," a soap-noir on the ethics-free world of tabloid journalism.
The show's creator, executive producer and writer, Matthew Carnahan, was looking for a device to set the tone for Konkey, who "has these horrific hallucinations, but he also has an ability to sort of escape into a blissful fantasy world."
He found it in Hawaiian music. As a Hawai'i fan who pops over to Maui to surf the west shore, Carnahan is familiar with Island sounds and collects vintage Hawaiian vinyl.
"(In the pilot, Konkey) plays these old Hawaiian records for his ailing cat who's dying of cancer and sort of drifts off into this fantasy realm where he imagines beautiful beaches, palm trees," says Carnahan from his Los Angeles office. "In the second episode, after his cat has passed away, he imagines that the cat is alive and with him. So for him, the older, slack-key and 'ukulele music is very dreamy and that Hawaiian tenor is very nostalgic, and I think extremely pacifying. ... It was perfect for Don."
While Carnahan dug through his collection for Konkey cues, it's up to music supervisor Kevin Edelman to scout out a full playlist of options.
Edelman, who also tracks down music for "My Name Is Earl," "Boston Legal" and "Criminal Minds," started his search as he always does, contacting music library firms such as Associated Production Music, putting out the word that he was looking for traditional Hawaiian music.
"I picked the ones that were the most authentic and the most haunting sounding, because this character is somewhat of a haunted character, and the music needs to reflect that," Edelman said.
For the final cut, explains Edelman, "it really comes down to Matthew's vision of what this character would be listening to, because it's his character."
For a musician, as Edelman was in his previous life, it's a dream job. He made the transition to music supervisor 14 years ago. "It was a pretty natural job for me once I discovered it was a job that existed," he says, laughing. "It's a lot of fun."
And essential. "Music can definitely influence the way the show comes across and the emotion that's relayed to the viewer," says Edelman. Choosing the right sounds "becomes kind of a second nature when you've been doing it for a while like I have, to look at a piece of footage and almost instinctually know what type of music is going to enhance it."
Edelman, who also appreciates Hawaiian music, went beyond Mainland music companies, contacting Mountain Apple Co. in Honolulu. He says the company submitted a selection that he'll soon present to the producers.
Mountain Apple president Leah Bernstein says projects like this are "one of the joys of my job — I get to talk to people on the creative side, and I get to go through our whole library to try and fit the puzzle pieces together."
A question lingers. Has Ian Hart, who played John Lennon in the 1994 film "Backbeat," adopted his character's taste for Hawaiian music?"
"I haven't asked him," says Carnahan. "I'd be surprised if he has, because he's from Liverpool. But maybe."
Reach Lesa Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org.