Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto's Pallett Thrilled by Oscar Nod for Arcade Fire 'Her' Collaboration

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto's Pallett Thrilled by Oscar Nod for Arcade Fire 'Her' Collaboration

Article excerpt

Toronto's Pallett thrilled by Oscar nod


TORONTO - The morning Owen Pallett woke up to find out he was an Academy Award nominee, he felt thousands of miles away from the rigorous glamour of Hollywood's biggest night.

In one sense it was literal -- the Toronto native was across the world in New Zealand on tour with Arcade Fire, whose Will Butler earned the nomination alongside Pallett for their work on the chilly, elliptical score to Spike Jonze's "Her." But also -- after a convivial evening of drinks with the band -- Pallett sure didn't feel spotlight-ready.

"I kind of woke up with a touch of a hangover," he said with a laugh in a recent telephone interview. "So I wound up just lying in bed Facebook chatting everybody."

And bleary-eyed though he was, how was the response?

"It was definitely my most-liked Facebook post in my Facebook account's history," he replied. "I'll tell you that."

Pallett says the honour feels "really good" -- and, surprisingly for the eloquent composer, he struggles to go much further than that. It's a "complicated feeling," he says.

Perhaps that's because he wasn't supposed to work on the score in the first place. Pallett says that Arcade Fire -- the Montreal Grammy winners whose string arrangements Pallett has handled since their groundbreaking first record, "Funeral" -- had been labouring over a score for about a year without his involvement.

Jonze's film is a sleekly forward-thinking fable about a sad-eyed man in the near future who rebounds from a divorce by falling for an operating system oriented to meet his every emotional need. Arcade Fire, Pallett says, had been working on a highly electronic-leaning score to match the film's smooth-edged esthetic, but it wasn't satisfying the movie's exacting, multiple Oscar-nominated director.

"It seemed that Spike was not feeling the sort of futuristic approach to the score and wanted something that was a little bit more emotional," Pallett said.

That's where he came in, "to close the deal, so to speak." His exclusion had been simply situational -- he was in Toronto while the rest of the band was in Montreal. So when he came to Quebec to help the band craft its chart-topping fourth album "Reflektor," he got involved in the music for "Her" as well.

He prepared string arrangements and helped add piano to deepen the music's emotional impact, contributing only a couple months work after the score's "year-long gestation period."

"But it was a very intense couple of months," pointed out Pallett.

It helped that Pallett had a little more experience with film scoring than the rest of the band, having composed music for 2009's "The Box" and last year's "The Wait." ("The key adjective in that sense is 'a little more,'" added Pallett in a modest aside).

In trying to close out work on the score -- which has yet to see commercial release, with Pallett saying that there's a "rumour" it might be out when the movie hits DVD -- he said his role was parsing the visions of two separate creative forces. …

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