If you enjoyed the music in anything made by Steven Soderbergh or Nicolas Winding Refn, you can thank Cliff Martinez.
The former drummer for bands like Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Beefheart turned to a successful career as a film score composer with Steven Soderbergh’s 1989 debut feature “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.” Since then, his unique eerie electronica sound has found its was into the films of Refn (“Drive,” “Only God Forgives”), Joe Carnahan (“Narc”), and Harmony Korine (“Spring Breakers”).
With so many memorable works under his belt, including the second season of Soderbergh’s “The Knick,” now on Cinemax, Business Insider asked Martinez to make the tough decision of telling us three of his favourite scores he’s created (he couldn’t help to add a fourth).
1. “Solaris” (2002)
The ninth time Martinez teamed with Soderbergh was for this trippy sci-fi drama starring George Clooney investigating the crew at a research station orbiting a bizarre planet. Loosely inspired by the classic 1972 film of the same title, Soderbergh’s version bombed at the box office, but Martinez’s soothing score stands out.
“That was my first entry with a large orchestra,” he said. “And it was my first experience with a large studio. I was terrified.”
2. “Traffic” (2000)
Two years before “Solaris,” Martinez was in his sweet spot for Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning “Traffic.” He provided a slick electronic feel that was in contrast to the gritty drug war the film profiled.
“That’s one of my favourites of my electronic scores,” Martinez said.
3. “Contagion” (2011)
2011 was a good year for Martinez, and in it, he showed the diversity in his work. For Soderbergh’s “Contagion,” he delivered a thrilling score to match the terror of a world infected by a mysterious disease (the sound is very similar to what Soderbergh asked Martinez to create for “The Knick”).
4. “Drive” (2011)
While with Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive,” Martinez offered one of his most pop-oriented scores to date. Using vintage keyboard and retro ’80s synthesized sounds, it matched perfectly to Ryan Gosling’s character’s inner turmoil.
“‘Drive’ and ‘Contagion’ came out within a week of each other and I was really proud of both of those scores,” Martinez said. “I actually still listen to those two more than any of the music I’ve done. I know every molecule, every note. But those scores, for some reason, I can still enjoy listening to them. Often you’re sick of it. You’ve lived with it day in and day out until the movie comes out, but after a year, I could still revisit them and get something out of them, and that’s unusual.”
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