Composer Mark Hadley Discusses Linoleum’s Out of This World Score

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The wait is finally over! Last year’s SXSW favorite, Linoleum, is now available in select theaters and VOD. Written and directed by Colin West, the sci-fi/dramedy follows Cameron Edwin (Jim Gaffigan), the host of a failing children’s science TV show called “Above & Beyond”, who has always had aspirations of being an astronaut. After a mysterious space-race era satellite coincidentally falls from space and lands in his backyard, his midlife crisis manifests in a plan to rebuild the machine into his dream rocket.

As Cameron’s relationship with his wife (Rhea Seehorn) and daughter (Katelyn Nacon) start to strain, surreal events begin unfolding around him — a doppelgänger moving into the house next door, a car falling from the sky, and an unusual teenage boy forging a friendship with him. He slowly starts to piece these events together to ultimately reveal that there’s more to his life story than he once thought. Adding to the emotion is the score by Mark Hadley (Double Walker, Into the Dark: My Valentine) who used everything from synths to acoustic guitars for the Linoleum score. In the below Q&A, Mark breaks down his musical contribution to the film.

Want to hear Mark’s Linoleum score? The full album is now available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and Apple Music

You have worked with Linoleum writer/director on a few other projects including Double Walker, Look Like and Here & Beyond. How was your experience on Linoleum different than your other

Colin West is not only a great friend of mine, but he’s a brilliant creator and collaborator. Even though Linoleum was a bigger film than all our previous projects, the experience was quite similar to our previous work. I work closely with Colin and the editor, Keara Burton, as I compose the score. They both put a great deal of trust in me, which is empowering, and we maintain an open dialogue throughout the whole process to make sure everything is feeling right.

We heard you used a few synths for the Linoleum score. Can you talk about which ones specifically?

Sure! I used the Teenage Engineering OP-1 for many of the bleep-bloop sounds, which can be heard clearly in the beginning of the title cue “Linoleum.” I also used the Tasty Chips GR-1 granular synth to create many of the atmospheric textures heard in the score, in addition to a softsynth called Cycles made by Slate+Ash. For some of the more classic analog synth sounds, I used my Minimoog, the OB-6 and Prophet 08.  

There is a sci-fi element to the film. What instruments have you found make the most “unworldly”

Definitely the GR-1 made by Tasty Electronics. Granular Synthesis in general is quite conducive to unearthing brand-new sounds out of more familiar sounds and is a great tool for creating sonic worlds.  

There are a lot of physical elements to the film. Because of this were you working pretty closely with
the sound designer?

Actually, not really. The composing of the score and sound design of the film were entirely separate processes. 

Did you create any specific character themes for the film? If so, can you discuss those?

Absolutely. Without giving away spoilers, it made sense to have one main theme that could cover many of the characters on screen. This theme is heard clearly in the title cue, and used throughout the score in many different variations. 

Did you find that your interpretation of the film changed at all the more you worked on it?

Certainly. As the film deals with an abstract timeline, with a bit of a cyclical nature, I found myself wanting to create ties between certain moments in the film through the score that weren’t initially apparent.  

Did you watch any similar movies to Linoleum to get inspiration for the film’s score? If so, which ones?

I wasn’t really watching movies as much as drawing inspiration from music, both film music and non-film music. I always like to create a playlist for inspiration from the onset of a project to start considering and formulating the overall tone of the score. With Linoleum, I was listening to film composers like Alex Somers, Colin Stetson, and Devonté Hynes, in addition to popular music artists like Beach House and Joji. 

Linoleum premiered at the prestigious SXSW film festival and has since screened at numerous festivals including the Palm Springs Film Festival. Did you get to attend any of these screenings? If so, was that like? Were you surprised by any of their reactions?

The coolest screening I was fortunate enough to attend was the London Film Festival. I was definitely surprised by the different reactions that the audience had than the American audiences I’d experienced. 

Random question, are there any TV shows you are currently watching you would like to recommend?

The Last of Us. Also, I really enjoyed Severance and look forward to the next season. 

Learn more about Mark Hadley here:

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