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  • Writer's pictureKevin Keller

Push It!

Filmmaker Brad Grimm and I first met at the Media Center in Brooklyn in October 2013, at which time Brad was looking for a composer for his feature documentary. The film was titled “American Real”, and it chronicled the inspiring rags-to-riches story of billionaire Forrest Lucas.

Since the film was truly an “American” story, we all felt that the score should reflect this by using acoustic and electric guitars as the main instruments. This would give it that “Americana” feeling.

Brad and I had been working together on the score for several weeks, and things were generally proceeding pretty well. While I was developing the main themes, Brad was working with writer Barry McMann on the storyline, carefully sculpting the tale into an emotionally compelling life story.

One night, I got together with Brad and Barry for dinner and drinks, and afterwards, we went back to Brad’s apartment to hang out. Barry turned on the television and pulled up a YouTube video about legendary producer Daniel Lanois. The video showed Lanois in his home studio laying down tracks for his album “Flesh and the Machine”, and the music was absolutely intense. Lanois’ electric guitar was running through distortion pedals, delay, and reverb, and it sounded epic.

I turned to Brad, and he asked me a simple question: “Are we pushing this far enough, bro?”

I knew exactly what he meant. He and I had both been sitting there listening to this incredible guitar music, silently wondering how we could get THAT kind of sound and feel into the score for our film.

“No, we aren’t… not yet!”, I answered.

That night, and that question, was the turning point not only for that film score, but also for the rest of my ongoing creative partnership with Brad. I went home, and the next day I pulled out my electric guitar and ran it through various effects pedals until I got a sound and intensity on par with Daniel Lanois. With the rhythm and bass tracks pulled up, I then recorded what would become the opening track of “American Real”.

Ever since then, Brad and I have continually asked each other “Are we pushing this far enough, bro?” when working on a new project together, and it has become our mantra.

To hear “American Dream”, click this link...

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