1939 Ensemble Band Member, José Medeles' Take on A/VEC

Respect the process and accept the challenge.

Existing between genres, 1939 Ensemble creates music that is both angular and pristine by interlocking drums with rhythms meeting somewhere in the middle of jazz, rock and noise. We were honored to have the band on board for the second installment of our A/VEC series -- an event that challenged both filmmaker, Zak Davis, and 1939 Ensemble bandmates, José Medeles, David Coniglio, Josh Thomas and Knate Carterto, to push creative boundaries and think beyond what is expected. 

We chatted with Medeles about how the band overcame the challenge of writing, arranging, producing and performing a live soundtrack in only a matter of days. Enjoy. 

What was everyone's initial reaction to the film? 

JM: Excellent acting. Sad. Funny.

After watching the film for the first time did you have an idea of the direction you wanted to take the music? What was it that sparked the initial idea? 

JM: Yes. Once we watched it, the storyline, dialogue and overall tone of the film we felt confident, as a collective, where we needed to go musically. Everything “sparked” ideas. Many seeds were planted by the title, shots and feel. The filmmakers did an amazing job to provide us with a great canvas.

What scene did you find to be the most challenging to write music for? Why?

JM: The “training/desert” scene. The scene had a lot of movement, action and dialogue. We wanted to approach it by using a minimal amount of instrumentation/voices. The challenge was to support the action and energy, but not get in the way. Using less is always more challenging. We decided to use 3-slit drums and electronic pulses. We were happy with result.

Were you nervous to perform the score in front of a live audience? Why and/or why not? 

JM: I wouldn’t use the word “nervous." I would say “excited." Luckily, we have done this before but not in such an intimate setting. It was a joy to play our pieces that we were proud of in that environment. The only time nerves kicked in was thinking about the filmmakers hating what we did.

What were some lessons you learned through this project?

JM: To always put the music and goal first. Set ego a side and serve the project with every ounce of integrity and honesty you have. Respect the process and accept challenges openly. Not everything you play is great. Lessons in humility are always welcoming.

Watch the final product of this collaborative, live performance here. And read filmmaker, Zak Davis' take on this unique creative experience here.

Posted on July 22, 2016 and filed under Music, Field Notes.