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Twilight Eclipse’s Alexandra Patsavas is the woman behind your favourite songs

December 3rd, 2010

You may not realize it, but you’re already a huge fan of Alexandra Patsavas. Her resume reads like a timeline of shows and movies that most 20-somethings grew up watching. She’s launched the careers of some of the most notable artists of the decade, including Imogen Heap, The Fray, Death Cab for Cutie, KT Tunstall, Lykke Li, The Killers, Phantom Planet and many more. If it had a memorable soundtrack, Music Supervisor and Chop Shop Music Label owner Alexandra Patsavas was most likely behind it.

When Marissa nearly fatally shot Trey during the Season 2 Finale of The OC, it was Patsavas use of Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek that made it one of the most well-known scenes in TV in the last ten years. At the end of its Second Season, Grey’s Anatomy produced one of its most heartfelt and gut-wrenching episodes when lead character Izzy Stevens (Katherine Heigl) lost her husband one hour after he proposed. Patsavas launched the career of Snow Patrol and helped give Grey’s Anatomy its most prolific episode when she used the bands then unknown song Chasing Cars during the final scenes.

In the television world Patsavas has worked with The OC, Gossip Girl, Rockville and Chuck creator Josh Schwartzs on all of his projects, in addition to her work on Mad Men, Roswell, Life on Mars, Flash Forward, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, Numb3rs, Supernatural, Rescue Me and more. Patsavas’ work in promoting indie and unknown artists continues on the silver screen where she has worked on films such as Remember Me, New In Town, John Tucker Must Die in addition to her most recent work on all three Twilight films.

Patsavas’ work on Twilight and New Moon has featured an impressive amount of original material from critically acclaimed artists such as Death Cab for Cutie, Thome Yorke and Lykke Li. Wednesday’s Grammy nomination announcement included two original songs that Patsavas featured on the latest Twilight film, Eclipse, available on DVD this Saturday, December 4, including Cee Lo Green’s What Part of Forever and Metric’s Eclipse (All Yours).

In anticipation to the international release Eclipse on DVD in stores tomorrow, we spoke with Alexandra Patsavas about three of our favourite things; music, movies and vampires.

MM: When approaching artists and asking them to record original songs for the Eclipse soundtrack, was the success of the first two Twilight soundtracks a factor in their decision making?

AP: I think not only the success of the first two soundtracks and our great good fortune in getting artists like Thom Yorke and Grizzly Bear, but also of course the success of the books and the great love that people have for Stephanie Meyer’s stories. That really helps too. It’s different from most movies in that the artists are already familiar with the project.

MM: How closely did you work with the artists when your requested original material from them? For example, did you approach Metric for the specific scene that their song was used within?

AP: It happens in many ways, especially when you have this many original songs for a soundtrack. Many songs were written specifically with the movie in mind, but not to a specific scene, and some of these songs were custom and were written with a specific scene in mind. All the songs are making their debut here (on the soundtrack).

MM: In you opinion how do the songs on Eclipse add to the film?

AP: I think it’s part of a whole. I think the director, David Slade, the producers at Summit (Entertainment), Stephanie Meyer, of course, who has playlists and always kept music in mind, I think they all care a great deal about music and how music fits in. It can definitely make a big impact on a scene.

MM: Stephanie Meyers credits the band Muse in all the Twilight novels as her ‘muse’ during the writing of the books. Is it important to you and Stephanie to ensure that Muse is included in each Twilight soundtrack?

AP: I think it’s very important. They were a sonic part (of the soundtracks). They are returning artists. For the first film we licensed an existing (Muse) track. For New Moon they created a remix for us and wrote the song for Stephanie for the third in Eclipse.

MM: When you’re listening to new artists do you constantly have the Twilight characters in mind? Are you always on autopilot in terms of searching for songs that will fit within the upcoming Breaking Dawn films?

AP: I think Music Supervisors always have the characters in mind. But of course, when you actually see footage, sometimes the footage turns out exactly as you imagined it and sometimes the songs, which seem like they will fit so well, actually don’t.

MM: Some films release second and third soundtracks of music ‘inspired’ by the film. Is this something you would ever consider exploring with Breaking Dawn 1 and 2? Have you ever thought about this for the previous Twilight films?

AP: I feel like it’s really important that the soundtracks include music that’s in the movies. The reason these soundtracks are souvenirs and are pieces of the movies is because fans can remember the scenes that the (songs are) actually in, instead of the scenes they might have been in. That’s important to me, personally.

MM: The Twilight soundtracks have really been able to stand on their own as a huge success in terms of sales and critical acclaim in addition the success of the films. How do you measure the success of one of your soundtracks?

AP: I think a soundtrack is successful when it accurately reflects the intent of the director, the intent of the writer, and it feels like a piece of the movie. If you hear the Metric song, if you hear the Thom Yorke song, if you hear The Bravery song, you’re transported to the scene in the movie. To me, that’s a successful soundtrack. You start to hear songs and say, ‘that’s a Twilight song’.

MM: This may apply to other work you’ve done moreso than with the Twilight soundtracks, but when looking at artists to feature on a soundtrack do you take into account their cultural significance?

AP: First and foremost the song has to beautifully fit and enhance the scene. The cultural significance is secondary to a perfect fit. But I think that’s when soundtracks resonate with fans and with listeners, when the song is so perfect. Sometimes we have these very well known artists and sometimes the artists are less well known, but it doesn’t mean the song is any less impactful.

MM: Were you excited by the decision to make Breaking Dawn into two films?

AP: Definitely. This is an amazing project to work on and two is better than one. Two is great!

MM: You’ve been working on pop music soundtracks for the last 15 years. How has the music industry changed in that time in terms of how receptive artists are to being a part of a film soundtrack? It seems like the musician’s are no longer labeled as ‘sell-outs’ if their music is featured on a TV show or in a film.

AP: I think that’s certainly true. My first television show was Roswell and we had an interesting time with the more indie artists (trying to) convince them that it would not erode their credibility with fans. As opportunities become less available this is a great way to reach an audience that might not hear you otherwise. I think that has certainly shifted. It’s a different landscape.

MM: You’re a highly acclaimed Music Supervisor and have won an Emmy, been nominated for a Grammy for Grey’s Anatomy and worked on some of the biggest movies and television shows in the last 15 years. I have to end the interview with my most serious question; Team Edward or Team Jacob?

AP: I plead the Fifth.

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