Get to know Music Supervisor, Emilee Booher

Meet Music Supervisor, Emilee Booher, and her incredible music memory.

At Marmoset, there's nothing "stock" in what we do. There's no set process and there's nothing secret behind the curtain -- it's just real people with a real love for music. One of those people is Emilee, whose ability to glean an emotional resonance in a film and distill it to a soundtrack is uncanny. An artist in her own right, she finds the perfect pairing of sound and vision in each project she's involved with.

Emilee possesses a huge rolodex of musical knowledge from her experience in producing and editing film and touring with Portland musician, Zeb Dewar. With a deep love for the creative process, Emilee dives fully into a project and surfaces with a harmonious pairing of music and picture. Here's more about Emilee in her own words...

M: What's your guiding philosophy when it comes to music supervision?

EB: I think it's more of a feeling than anything else. There's so much power when music and picture are combined, you kind of just know when something triggers the right emotional response. I've always been a visual thinker, so I grew up listening to music and imagining what kind of scene or context specific songs could live in. There's always been that interplay for me between what I hear, see and feel. I also just try to listen to a lot of different kinds of music and keep an internal catalog tucked away for when the perfect opportunity arises.

M: What makes for a successful pairing of sound + picture?

EB: This is obvious, but sound and picture should be mutually beneficial and feel like one whole idea as opposed to two separate things. Both the scene and musical track should be memorable, and I think that's a sign of a successful pairing. It's seamless, each piece adds to the other, and one thing isn't too overpowering. With music supervision, you're fortunate to see how different tracks can affect the same scene so it kind of teaches you as you go through trial and error. After a while, you start to recognize more of a gut/giddy feeling when you know something works.

My recent soundtrack obsession is Bruce Gilbert's work in Transparent, for obvious reasons. Between the Dustin O'Halloran piano score and having only a couple key licensed songs per episode, the music is perfectly sparse and always so on point. Whether it's a lesser-known indie act like Alice Boman or Neil Young's "Razor Love" playing all the way through, the music is nicely woven into the show and crosses generations and genres really well. It's pretty key in developing the characters and mood of the overall story.

M: What makes a compelling story?

EB: For me, something with emotional resonance and creative freedom. Stories that are relatable but told in a unique or interesting way. It's kind of a hard question to answer without sounding cliche, but a fresh, creative approach can take an already appealing story to a whole other level. So, it's not necessarily all about the story, but how a story is told. 

M: What's one thing you'd like to tell filmmakers when they approach the task of finding a soundtrack?

EB: I think all too often, especially with shorter commercial work, music can be an afterthought. I would say to treat music just as carefully as the rest of the production. You can have the most beautiful imagery in the world, but what's really going to make it stick in people's brains is how the music is used. If possible, set aside the time and budget to really be able to dive into the soundtrack side of it. Some of the most successful pairings feel like the music is driving the edit as opposed to being dropped in afterwards. 

M: How is music misused in film?

EB: I am of the mindset that less is more and curveballs are good. Silence can be powerful. When soundtracks are too busy or too prevalent in a project, it can cause the music to blend together and be less memorable. Or, the tracks picked feel too obviously close to the emotion that's trying to be conveyed. It's a careful balance of curation, taking risks and knowing when to stop. 

M: What was the last album you listened to?

EB: I've been really diving into music from the 60s and 70s lately. I've made everyone at work listen to "Sunday Morning" by Margo Guryan, which is off her 1968 album Take A Picture. It's raaaaadd. 

M: How does your life as a musician impact your work?

EB: Well, I don't really consider myself much of a musician. I mostly play songs in my bedroom or in my friends' basements. But, I think it gives me more of an appreciation for how songs are crafted -- from the instrumentation and songwriting to the production quality and historical importance. It also just keeps me involved in the music world outside of my day job, which becomes a big help in thinking outside of the box.

M: What's the next instrument you want to learn?

EB: I mostly just want to get better at singing and playing the guitar and piano. My pipe dream is the pedal steel. But, I've heard that's more of a lifestyle. :)

M: What's your power animal?

EB: I used to have a recurring dream when I was young about flying around on giant bird (Rescuers Down Under style).

Posted on March 18, 2016 and filed under Music.