Sound Q&A: In Sync

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When Alex Moulton founded Expansion Team in 2001, he saw a need in commercial music for more original artists' work as well as an opportunity to get more authentic hip hop, electronic, indie and punk rock music into the commercials arena. We spoke to Moulton about Expansion Team's latest work on a new campaign for Ford's Sync system, as well as the composer's own expansion into film, scoring the controversial indie film Descent, starring Rosario Dawson, that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and comes out on DVD in early 2008.

In the sync ads, all three elements of your business are on display— original score, remixing and track licensing—how important is it to be a one-stop shop?

Our executive producer April Jaffe and I have talked a lot about this and we really try to be a solution for our clients. In this case, Team Detroit had this new campaign, new product, new launch—a lot of newness surrounding this. They came to us with a clear idea of what the product was and a tone for the campaign but no specific idea of how it should be implemented. Our job was to come up with how to tell the story. I knew we needed an intro and had to integrate The Strokes song, and The Flaming Lips in the second spot, we know we wanted to end each spot with something that would make you feel good and the overall aesthetic should be fluid and simple. My parents still have a hard time with their iPods so a Ford consumer should look at this and think it looks cool and new without being too complicated.

Tell us about scoring the film Descent.

Well, it's my first film score, which was really exciting. It's not like anything I'd done before, musically, so it pushed me in a very different direction. I'm a pretty happy person. Some musicians have that dark side but I don't really have that and this really forced me to find that. At one point the director was thinking she wouldn't have a score. I originally came on to do a track for a club scene. She really liked it and asked me to take a crack at another scene. That just kept going until by the third or fourth scene she asked me to score the film.

What was your process for scoring the final scene?

It's like a 20-minute scene and is one of the most horrific rape scenes ever on film. Not in a graphic way but in the way that's just emotionally unrelenting. The music is just these groaning textures and a lot of sub-bass that you can't get out of the pit of your stomach. It was intense.

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