If you’ve watched the animated show Ed, Edd n Eddy or plan to watch the second season of Netflix’s The Order, then you will be privy to the sounds and music created by composer Patric Caird. Cultured Vultures got the opportunity to speak with Patric about his work across multiple platforms and genres, and it’s an understatement to say his career is incredibly impressive. He’s dabbled in everything from horror to comedy, and enjoys working in both live-action and animation.
Music has been a part of his life from a very young age, and upon discovering one particular jazz musician, his life was forever changed as he went from dropping out of college to composing music for film and television. Patric’s long-standing professional relationship with Canadian showrunners Danny Antonucci and Dennis Heaton has allowed him to completely immerse into a wide range of content that we can all enjoy today.
It was a pleasure and privilege to speak with Patric Caird and learn about his journey to becoming an extremely talented and well-accomplished musical composer. His experience speaks for itself, and it serves as an inspiration for anyone hoping to enter the same profession. Check out our conversation below as we talk about Patric’s beginnings, his career, and what he’s got coming up!
What first brought you into the world of music? What was that “aha” moment for you? How about your switch from jazz to film/television composing?
I started playing the saxophone in grade nine and my grade ten teacher was also a saxophone player, I had just switched schools at this point. The music teacher was a really intense, charismatic and ferocious guy, and he inspired me to practice more and take music seriously, and he made everyone in the band sound better too. I started practicing while I was in a sax quartet with him and other guys in my high school, which was really cool. I remember it was that year in grade ten that somebody had brought in a John Coltrane record. We would often listen to music after school in the music room but then I heard this particular record and immediately, I was struck with a bolt of lightning. That moment really turned it around for me. I started doing research at the library and reading the back of album covers. I was trying to figure out who this person was on this record and who was playing the same instrument as me in that amazing way.
Through that I learned about Coltrane and his obsession with practicing and pushing boundaries. I followed his lead in attempting to get better every day, so that was the beginning of the playing of the saxophone. I graduated high school and went to college briefly but I soon realized I wasn’t going to be able to sit in class all day. I ended up dropping out of college and had moved out of my house so the transition from being a student and into the real world happened instantly. I wound up being a jazz/saxophone player and began gigging. I was playing a lot of R&B – James Brown and Ray Charles. This went on from the time I was 18 to 24 at which point I got a grant to study in New York City with a jazz/sax player for a year, which was a great opportunity.
I went back to Vancouver, had kids, and within the first year of my son’s life, I realized that the road life wasn’t for me so I began writing and producing music instead.
What has it been like scoring the second season of Netflix’s The Order – a series about the dark arts, werewolves, monsters, etc.? What influences and inspirations did you use to create music for such a unique/specific genre? How did you get involved?
The Order is Dennis Heaton’s love child, and he and I have worked together for many, many years and are dear friends. I first worked with him on Netflix’s series, Ghost Wars and then when Netflix asked Dennis to do The Order he said I’m taking Pat with me. He described the scenario to me and I realized I had never done a supernatural show like this before.
This was the first time I did something with a story focused on young adults. I did a lot of research and watched all the vampire/zombie shows I could to collect an idea of what the tropes were and what I liked, how I would do things differently or the same. I talked a lot to Dennis ahead of time because I prefer to get started early, read the scripts, etc. You have to invent the musical world for these shows so we talked about that in the beginning. Once you’re in it and you’re making the music, very often all that reserach comes from the show and what it tells you. Certain things stick, and certain things won’t.
The storytelling is more epic and gothic and ancient in The Order so we kept going back to these larger broader, operatic themes. We would get bigger and more exaggerated in terms of the musical gestures and how we would support certain things.
You’ve worked alongside Danny Antonucci for quite some time on multiple projects including Ed, Edd, n Eddy. How did you two cross paths and how has that relationship evolved over the years with the type of work you do, especially in terms of collaboration?
A neighbor of mine in the housing complex I lived in was about my age and he had two kids that were the same age as my kids. He was an animator named…Danny Antonucci. We became quite close friends back then and we bonded over a mutual love of jazz music. Eventually, he brought me into the animation world where I worked with him in a place called International Rocketship in Vancouver. We did short films, and worked for Nickelodeon, MTV, and Converse All-Star commercials, and a bunch of other stuff. I wrote the music and sound effects and got into the industry that way.
Danny and I met in the mid 80s and from then on started our professional relationship. I would work with him on bits and pieces here and there. At the time, he had just done a short film that was popular and controversial, and I think either Pearl Jam or Guns N Roses actually played it before one of their stadium shows. Danny’s career was taking off and eventually MTV asked him to do a series due to the success of Beavis and Butthead at the time. Animation was making a comeback at the time in an interesting way. So they asked Danny to make his own cartoon series and he made one called the Brother’s Grunt which was totally surreal. And in order to do that, Danny had to start his own company called a.k.a. Cartoons alongside someone he worked with back at Rocketship (Dennis Heaton), who now works on Netflix’s The Order.
All of that us led us to Danny eventually pitching Ed, Edd n Eddy to Cartoon Network, and they said let’s do this.
Between working on live-action and animated shows, is there one that you prefer more than the other? What are some of the things you love about both and what are some of the challenges that come with one over the other?
I love doing it all! I just finished this web series called Save Me recently. The first season was really songwriter-y and had a lot of voices and guitars to mess around with. I love doing this sort of thing! I love horror, animation, gosh I love it all and just love writing music. I also do Hallmark movies and that’s fantastic to go from something like The Order to romantic movies on Hallmark.
When you’re writing for animation you’re writing very close to picture and you’re hitting cuts and action and writing around. It’s very much like cogs in a wheel, it’s got a mesh and you’re down to the frame. So, there’s that level of detail. But when you’re writing a Hallmark movie or any other kind of movie where the music is underneath the story you have to be careful about dialogue. I personally don’t like if the melody is slamming over what they’re saying. I like the music to support and respond to what is being said, and it’s like a dance between dialogue and music. It’s like a craft almost to make sure the music doesn’t take away from the scene or what the viewer is watching.
Save Me has a very specific indie-rock sound to it. Tell us a bit about that project, specifically what it was like creating a solo piano score for one entire episode.
It was really, really fun! Save Me is so cool because each episode is about what happens leading up to a 9-1-1 call. The story is about what’s happening in these places that lead to this phone call. How somebody makes a bad decision and gets their fingers cut off by a lawnmower. But there’s a reason that they made that decision–it’s very cool and interesting.
So the episode with the piano, it has kind of a film noir touch to it. The story sort of unfolded in these little conversations throughout the episode. It felt appropriate to have this formal melancholic piano thing going through it because of the characters. It also added a level of continuity as we skipped from one thing to the next. It builds until we get to the end of the episode where there’s a surprise, unexpected reveal.
What is your creative process like from start to finish? Is there anything particular/unique you do when starting on a project?
I like to write scenes and come up with a sound palette, sometimes that is electronic, orchestral, acoustic, distressed etc. I did a horror movie recently that was all electronic instruments and is really fun to do. It’s called Curse of Willow Song, and I’ve worked with the filmmaker on it a bunch.
Anyway, I come up with a sound for the show and then I like to think schematically whether that’s the sound, vibe,mood, melody and apply it to the characters and see if its working and doing what it’s supposed to do. I can do that before I even see anything but really what happens is that when I see dailies or early cuts it really helps me develop the type of impact I want to make. The impact of the show is the set design, costume design, how the lenses are working, how the shots are (close, far), or if its low contrast or high contrast. All these things trigger me emotionally and I’ll respond to that as much as I respond to the actors and the writing. I see it as a complete whole and try to have the music contribute to that and support those decisions.
Advice for others?
Master your tools, and know what you’re doing. It’s great to be musical but there’s certainly a side to this business or the actual making of music for film and television that’s technical and complicated. As composers now, we’re expected to do everything – writing music, recording music, producing music, editing it, and then deliver it to the scoring stage. You have six or seven hats and of course when there is no budget for live players, you have to perform the music as well. There is a lot to work on but ultimately you want to take your innate musicality and figure out how to apply it in service to picture. You can learn that by watching and listening critically.
I spend about 80-100 hours writing music and the rest of the time I watch old movies and new movies to see why some music works and why some doesn’t.
Learn your craft, get really good at it, do a lot of studying, and practice!
Any future projects we should know about?
I’m currently working on a musical and have a martial arts movie that I’ll be working on later this year. I don’t know the title of it but I’m super excited about it!
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