Channeling grief into adventure

Scoring Amin Matalqa’s THE RENDEZVOUS

Growing up, it was the (now) old-fashioned film scores of Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, James Horner, Bernard Herrmann and others that drew me into a love of film scoring. Even though my primary passion is in experimentation and letting my curiosity pull me forward, I’d always dreamt of doing one of those big, lush “traditional” scores.

Two years ago, my brother Amin Matalqa granted this dream with his wonderful 90s style romance / adventure film The Rendezvous.

This was our third major collaboration (check out this and this), and while each time has called for a rather lush orchestral score, this was different. The Rendezvous deliberately harkens back to films like North by Northwest but via some sort of blended emotional sensability of Spielberg, Chaplin, Allen and Edwards.

In other words, the directive is pretty much constantly: go for it.

It’s going to be difficult to offer better insights into the score itself than Amin’s, written for the album’s liner notes, so I’ll just leave that link here:

Photos from the sessions can be seen on my Facebook and Instagram pages, and I’ll be updating my Youtube channel soon with some proper Behind-The-Scenes. The full score is available via Bandcamp, here.

But a look under the hood of the score wasn’t actually my agenda here. The middle of three days spent recording this score was on Sept 9th (2015), my birthday. Incidentally, it was also the day that Ubisoft unveiled that I’d written the score for the then-soon-to-be-released Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, which I had only completed 1 month earlier. Yet despite the double reasons for celebration, it was a solemn day. As Amin’s note mentions, we had lost his wife (one of my closest friends) only a couple months earlier, and my father a few months before that. This film was to be our outlet; a way to work through our grief. Our way to tributize those loved and lost.

I’m not sure how successfully cathartic it was, but it will nonetheless forever live on as a kind of frozen memorial to their memories, and the massive way they impacted our lives.

To be honest, I’m not sure if the lesson drawn from The Rendezvous was that, because my creative work and “life events” will inevitably periodically collide, it is only natural to make one the healthy outlet for absorbing the other … OR … because of the inevitable collisions of life and work, we must be diligent about allowing ourselves the latitude to step back and process more inwardly.

In the end, I am reasonably proud of the music and I would never have written this precise score outside of those tumultuous conditions. So I suppose I’m in hindsight a bit grateful for it all, even if at the time it really just felt like hell.

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Remembering Claire, during the recording sessions. Photo by Megan Wintory

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Professionally curious about music. Composer for Journey, Abzu, Erica, John Wick Hex, The Banner Saga 1–3, AC Syndicate, Tooth & Tail, etc. Fan of humanity!

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