Perhaps the name Meghan Currier doesn’t ring an immediate bell however I’m sure film and show titles such as, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Skyfall,” and “Still Alice” might. Meghan was either music supervisor or coordinator with music supervisor Randall Poster on the aforementioned titles and their impressive catalog of work is a testament to their musical aptitude which is utilized impeccably for HBO’s new show, “Vinyl,” with executive producers Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger. “Vinyl” is an intense and riveting gut wrenching punch to the gut ride of crazy goodness. Combine that with Meghan and Randall at the musical helm you can’t negate the sonic power and feel as if your witnessing magic on screen. The culmination of punk rock, disco, soul and jazz in merely one episode (with hints of hip-hop, perhaps to come in the following episodes?) is simply incredible and each genre coexists with one another in a world that ostensibly is impossible to pull off with such fluidity. However it is pulled off and it is simply spectacular. We had a chance to interview Meghan about her work on “Vinyl” and all things music.
Meghan Currier/ Photo by: Noa Griffel via Tory DailyMeghan Currier/ Photo by: Noa Griffel via Tory Daily
TK: Billboard.com mentioned Atlantic Records joined forces with sister label Warner Brothers to allow full access to Warner Music Group catalog for “Vinyl.” What did you find most difficult from choosing final selects from such a colossal catalog and how did you narrow down your choices?
MC: Scripts often dictate what is musically needed. So, we typically start there with each episode: are there specific on camera performances that need to be addressed? Are there musical references in dialogue? This could all go out the window of course once we’re in post production. Often we find that there is an interesting way to color a scene by using music that is counterintuitive– it can be very powerful, dynamic. As for Atlantic/Warners- we’ve worked with Atlantic and Warners for years and are pretty familiar with what’s in their catalog…thankfully it’s a very deep!
CQ: The seventies was such a revolutionary time for music. How did you use the inspiration of that decade to inspire your work with Vinyl?
MC: The inspiration is already there in the music! Just listening to music all day long, sending playlists back and forth between me, Randy, editorial, the creators of the show, the directors of each episode. Music is on all the time anyway at my home and at our office…but even at the Vinyl production offices- there was music constantly blasting. It was in the air.
TK: Have you ever had a moment(s), whether at dinner, a lounge, event, etc. and heard a song or artist you didn’t recognize and thought, “Wow this song or artist is amazing,” and considered or used the music for a show? If so describe one of those moments.
MC: Absolutely! I have those moments all the time and had a major one of those moments right before Randy and I started recording for the pilot back in May 2014. We were looking for a vocalist who had an authentic grasp on R&B from the 50s and 60s when a friend of mine called up and asked if I wanted to go to an event he was throwing at the John Varvatos store on the Bowery (the old CBGBs no less).
A band who I had never heard of before called Vintage Trouble was opening up for Gary Clark Jr, and I was completely blown away. Ty Taylor, the lead vocalist, was such an amazing live singer and performer that I think I immediately stepped outside after their set, called Randy and the next day we were on the phone with his manager planning when to get him to New York to be the voice of Lester (Ato Essandoh).
Ty’s vocal instincts are out.of.this.world. And he’s such a joy to work with.
CQ: What was the most challenging part of this project?
MC: Getting a good night’s sleep. But it was worth it.
TK: What type of feedback or suggestions did you receive from Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger regarding your selects for each episode?
MC: Marty is my favorite filmmaker and The Rolling Stones are my favorite band! They are living legends, so their creative presence was always felt. It’s clear how deep both of their love and respect for music is. The ongoing dialogue about music for this show was about capturing an authentic experience while also servicing the story. Both Mick and Marty set a precedent to maintain a balance between utilizing mainstream hits that everyone knows and loves, as well as presenting underground bands/songs to bolster the ancillary story lines about the emergence of disco, hip hop and punk.
CQ: Can you recall your earliest and most influential inspiration towards the work you do now.
MC: I’ve been playing piano since I was three. Without that as my introduction to music, I’m not sure I’d be on the path I am now.
TK: You were a music supervisor for HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire.’ How different was the creative process, finalizing your music selects, between your work on ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and ‘Vinyl?’
MC: Our involvement was much more intricate with Vinyl than Boardwalk Empire just based on the fact that Vinyl is a show all about music. Our job didn’t just begin and end with selecting music in post production with a peppering of on camera prep. We were a part of the discussion from beginning to end.
Aside from working closely with the writers and producers, directors and editorial- which is a thrill on it’s own- we were interfacing with all of the departments of production, which is pretty atypical for music supervisors. For instance, we were working hand in hand with casting, getting actors with real musical chops in front of the camera. Our amazing props department was on my speed dial- they were always making sure we were getting the correct instruments, amps, mics, even cables for each specific character you’ll see on camera. We’d be sharing and exchanging photos of artists with the wardrobe, hair, and makeup departments to make sure we were all on the same page in terms of era, look, costumes, and in turn that was corresponding with props. Even the production designer and art department would send us their stage plots so we could plan out how much room we had to accommodate certain sized bands. On top of all of this- we made sure each and every person on camera playing an instrument, singing, spinning, doing anything musical, had proper coaching, were rehearsed ahead of the shoot dates. It was extremely important to us that not only the music we were selecting was great- but so were the performances.
On top of all of this, we were in the studio multiple times every week from May until just a couple of weeks ago recording new masters for the show. Unlike Boardwalk that was limited to ragtime, jazz, blues- specifically 1931 and earlier- we were recording proto-punk, hard rock, R&B, blues, early disco, funk, psychedelic rock, garage rock, soul ranging from the 1950s through 1973! It’s a massive time period to cover! I was practically living at Electric Lady Studios for a couple of months, which was awesome. We had the extreme pleasure of working with multiple music producers to help capture these specific genres for the soundtrack: Stewart Lerman (who is our right hand man and an integral part of our music department for Vinyl as well as Boardwalk Empire), Lee Ranaldo, Don Fleming, Stretch Armstrong, Joe Henry, Gabriel Roth, and Brendan O’Brien among others.
CQ: Name your top 4 favorite film scores and why?
MC: First ones that come to mind right now…
Ennio Morricone “Metti Una Sera A Cena” , the orchestration is so perfectly 60s. Lush, sexy, dreamy, haunting, cinematic. I always play with this as temp score for projects I’m working on. Morricone is the master.
Roy Ayers -”Coffy” -I love, love Roy Ayers. This soundtrack is beyond cool, the orchestration is so sophisticated- but also slick and sexy. It’s no wonder so Roy Ayers is sampled so much in hip hop…
Ry Cooder “Paris Texas” -It’s stark, quiet, intimate. Ry Cooder is one of my favorite guitarists of all time, he makes it sound as effortless as it is authentic. His respect for and interpretation of roots music is impeccable. I love listening to this soundtrack while traveling alone.
Michael Andrews “Me And You and Everyone We Know” – It always astounds me how emotional this soundtrack is. Andrews only uses synthesizers for this film, I think he mentioned once in an interview that one of the main synths he used was a $10 casio keyboard he got at a garage sale. I love it. It’s innocent, but impactful.
TK: In episode one you hear a vast range of music from blues, punk rock, disco and soul. I can’t help to think it’s some type of incredible musical cross pollination with such eclectic genres. In particularly the specific songs chosen for each episode. Obviously this is a testament to you and Randall Poster as music supervisors. Why did you think this “musical cross pollination” would work for a show like “Vinyl?”
MC: Rock, funk, soul, and R&B are all vibrant, ‘legitimate’ and very marketable genres by the time we get to 1973. There was no question about featuring significant bands and artists of the time that fall into these categories. But what we love about this year in particular is that it was dawning of disco, punk and hip hop! All of these genres, however, and the artists that ushered them in, are only culturally significant because of jazz and blues. There was no way a show like Vinyl can exist without getting into the history of it all. It becomes apparent throughout the season how foundational these genres were to not only Richie (Bobby Cannavale) and his foray into the business, but to the music business in general -as criminal as it was.
CQ: Who would you like to work with that you have not worked with as of yet?
MC: So many people! Off the top of my head?
Edda Dell’Orso, Leon Bridges, Michael Stipe, Nick Cave, David Byrne, Mykki Blanco, Roy Ayers, Sade, Kourosh Yaghmaei, Van Morrison, Darlene Love, Tame Impala, Frank Ocean, Phil Collins, Mica Levi, Les McCann, Kate Bush, Sia.
TK: Were there any unfamiliar artists you came across in your access to Warner Music Group Catalog? If so who were your favorites (or name two) and what did you learn about them?
MC: The Mickey Finn (not the same Mickey Finn, drummer for T Rex)- fun fact was that Jimmy Page recorded with the band for a while during 1964/1965
There are a couple other artists on Atlantic that have created original tracks for the show that I love, but were never really familiar with: Kaleo, Sturgill Simpson, Alex Newell
CQ: What would you like the audience to walk away with after viewing the first episode?
MC: I hope the audience can’t wait to see the rest of the season! …and liked the music!
“Vinyl” premieres this Sunday, February 14th at 9PM EST, on HBO. The phenomenal cast, to name a few, includes Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde, Ato Essandoh, Juno Temple, Ray Romano and James Jagger.