Mother/Android is a new sci-fi/thriller that recently premiered on Hulu. Set in the near future, the feature follows Georgia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her boyfriend Sam (Algee Smith) through a treacherous journey of escape as their country is caught in an unexpected war with artificial intelligence. Just days away from the arrival of their first child, they must face the stronghold of the android uprising in hopes of reaching safety before giving birth.
Mother/Android was directed by Mattson Tomlin and features an original soundtrack created by the composing duo of Michelle Birsky and Kevin Olken Henthorn (https://birsky-henthorn.com). The composers - who are soon to be married - recently shared their exerience working on the project, which premiering on December 17th.
What were the needs of the show?
“We needed to create an intimate sound that followed two characters traversing through an apocalyptic landscape riddled with killer androids. The score was purposely focused on the intimacy between the two main characters, rather than the big, epic nature of the world around them. While we did have to score some pretty big action sequences, they all stemmed from a more intimate place, and were built up from there.”
How did you approach it?
“When we first talked to Mattson Tomlin about the film, he said he wanted it to sound like two people in a room, banging on pots and pans. We took that very literally. A lot of the percussion in the film was crafted by sampling pots and pans that we found in the kitchen and then editing them together. It was a wild time scoring this film because it was the middle of the pandemic. We had been uprooted from NYC and were traveling across the country trying to make it to LA. We ended up writing the preliminary demos at Michelle's parents house in Tucson. Almost all of the percussion we used was drawn from samples we created there, banging on pots and pans in the kitchen.
“We also were really interested in the dichotomy between small organic sounds that felt like our two characters (acoustic guitar, our own voices, light piano), and the synthesized android world surrounding them (synths, distorted pitched vocals, electric guitar drones). Anytime we were out in the forest, we would have a peaceful bowed acoustic guitar drone. But the forest was also never a truly safe place for these characters, so there was always a synthesized or distorted ominous undercurrent that ran through their journey. We also took a disguised approach when scoring for the androids. We would sample our voices or other organic sounds, but would pitch and distort them into unrecognizable contortions to embody the android world.”
What gear did you use?
“We used a lot of bowed acoustic guitar, the Prophet Rev2, Arturia synthesizer plug-ins, Spitfire Percussion, our own voices, Kilohearts pitch plug-in, violin and cello performed by Rachel Ruggles, and pots, pans, wood, and other found sounds that we sampled.”
Can you describe some of the cues and themes?
“We had several motifs running through the film, all of which mostly focused on the characters, rather than the outside world. Georgia's cue book-ends the film and scores a pivotal scene in the middle. That cue consists of mostly piano and a vocal melody line, to highlight Georgia's humanness and struggle. We also wrote a cue for Georgia and Sam's baby, which is the lightest and sweetest of the cues. We considered this the family cue and we used it to highlight the love between Sam, Georgia and their child. Arthur's cue is a specific melody line that is plucked out on the acoustic guitar with some low cello underneath, which we used to highlight his solitude. Because the threat in this film are the androids, we used technology for most of the action cues in which the main characters are in danger. These cues share similar synth lines as well as distorted vocals and distorted guitar.”