Check out this edition of Morricone Youth where host Devon E. Levins welcomed film soundtrack composer and The Cinematic Underground frontman Nathan Johnson to the program for an exclusive interview and in-depth listen to his music.
As a composer, producer, art director, and songwriter, Nathan Johnson's innovative film scores and hybrid media performances have consistently blurred the lines between stage, screen, music, and narrative. Best known for his unconventional work in film and music, Nathan favors modified, organic instrumentation combined with unique approaches to recording and performing. Nathan Johnson’s creative partnership with writer/director (and cousin) Rian Johnson started when the two were children and has continued throughout their professional lives. Beginning with the critically acclaimed score for their first feature collaboration, Brick, Nathan and his team used and abused a variety of household implements including dinner settings, filing cabinets, cheese graters, and radiators. Any real instruments that were included in the soundtrack were horribly misused: pianos were bolted and tacked, double basses were beaten with mallets, and tuned wine glasses were re-purposed in place of a string section. After developing this "junkyard orchestra", Nathan went on to produce and compose the scores for Rian Johnson's second film, The Brother’s Bloom, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Morgan M. Morgansen series, and the forthcoming Melanie Laurent feature Et Soudain, Tout Le Monde Me Manque, among others.
Rian Johnson's third film, Looper starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt, is perhaps Nathan's most unique score to date, featuring a host of indecipherable instruments along with intertwining rhythms and textures. In preparation for the project, Nathan began gathering a wide range of field recordings and then he and his team created a sort of playable, hybrid found-sound orchestra using those original recordings. The results were combined with live strings and horns to produce deep textures featuring pitched industrial fans, tuned treadmills, and a wide range of intricate rhythmic elements — all looping and cycling on themselves at various speeds.
Nathan continues to compose and produce while fronting The Cinematic Underground, a sprawling artistic collective known for mixing visual art with performance and found-sounds. He is part of the atmospheric pop band Faux Fix, and has produced a variety of independent artists while acting as a concert developer and live show consultant for a number of bands. When he is not creating music, he works as an art director with The Made Shop, a boutique design firm that specializes in graphic and architectural projects. Learn more by visiting www.nathanj.com.