By Alton Williams
Another special guest FiLMiX for you, from Derek Mount, an American guitarist, songwriter, composer, and producer with a truly diverse portfolio.
The mix –
Comptine d’un autre ete, l’apres-midi – Yann Tiersen
U Up – Soft Lit
Guillotine – Jon Bellion, Travis Mendes
Sleep Alone – Stanaj
Wanna Be Startin’ Something – Michael Jackson
Dapper – Domo Genesis, Anderson .Paak
Get Ugly – Jason Derulo
Hang You from the Heavens – Dead Weather
Humans Being – Van Halen
Don’t Cry Out – Shiny Toy Guns
Winds of Change – St. Lucia
Monument – Mutemath
Tiger Teeth – Paper Route
Revolver – Rage Against the Machine
Blood On Our Hands – Death from Above
Sick Muse – Metric
Body Cry (feat. Father Dude) – Slumberjack
No Surprises – Radiohead
Salute Your Solution – The Raconteurs
The Film – Bottle Rocket (1996)
Derek Mount is an American guitarist, songwriter, composer, and producer with a truly diverse portfolio. Mount has written and played on an impressive palette of art, including significant releases in pop, rock, indie, funk, hip-hop, orchestral music, electronic music, and more.
As a songwriter, Derek has co-written seven number-one hits and fourteen top-ten songs across various radio formats. He has also released three full-length albums under the moniker of his dynamic compositional project, Brique a Braq. Mount’s songs have been used in feature films (NBCUniversal, Lionsgate), commercials (Nokia, Target), television programs (CMT, MTV, VH1), retail stores (Journey’s, Forever XXI), sporting events (ESPN, WWE, NHL, CBS, etc.), corporate presentations (BMW, Wells Fargo, KCRW), and much more. Propelled by an ambitious work ethic, he has scored several independent film projects from tour buses, hotel lobbies, and studios around the world, including a recent collaboration with partner Riley Friesen on several custom soundtrack pieces for RGH Entertainment’s animated feature film “Postman Pat: The Movie.”
He is best known as the bombastic, multifaceted guitarist and background vocalist for the electro-dance-infused rock band Family Force 5. The group has performed thousands of shows worldwide, including appearances at some of the world’s most prestigious tours and festivals (Sonisphere, Bamboozle, Warped Tour US & UK, AP Tour, etc.). FF5 has sold several hundred thousand albums to-date, charted over forty million collective YouTube views, and garnered considerable recognition in the press (Rolling Stone, Billboard, Spin, Pollstar, AP Magazine’s Live Band of the Year, Yahoo’s “Who’s Next,” etc.).
When he is not on tour, Derek plays guitar at various local churches, and he also teaches online guitar lessons to aspiring students spanning the globe. Mount lives with his wife Sarah in Atlanta, GA, and is a passionate fan of football, basketball, podcasts, grilling, and patterned socks.
We had a quick chat with Derek.
When did you start producing and what or who were your early passions and influences?
When I was a kid, I wanted to shred a guitar like Marty McFly at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance in Back to the Future. I was obsessed with Van Halen, Tears for Fears, Iron Maiden, and Led Zeppelin. My guitar hero dreams landed me into several rock, metal, and pop bands. Ultimately, after years of touring, I began to fall in love with studio life. I find a tremendous joy in the variety the results from bouncing back and forth between songwriting, composing, producing, and touring.
What makes music and film interesting for you?
I tend to view film and music as two narrators finding common ground to share the same story to the same audience. While each may focus on a different sense, they somehow collaborate to improve and embellish the experience. Music has to be incredibly careful to find its role, because it can completely drive the experience. I find it truly fascinating to see how much music can affect anything visual.
What do you usually start with when preparing for a new track?
It varies greatly. When I was working on “Cirque Noir,” I would start each session by watching a compelling scene from a French film with the audio turned completely off. Then, I would score the piece. My favorite part of the process was turning up the volume of the original composer’s score once I finished mine, and experiencing the movie in a completely different headspace.
However, over the last 11 years of writing with Family Force 5, we’ve experimented with a billion different approaches. Sometimes, we write with laptops. Sometimes, we use acoustic guitars. Sometimes, we do nerdy group writing exercises, and sometimes we grab our instruments and play until one of us comes up with a crazy riff or beat that forces everybody in the entire studio make that mean, snarly face that lets you know you’re onto something cool.
Great FiLMiX by the way. Can you talk about the process? How did you select the tracks, decide on a theme?
Thanks so much! I had a blast making it, and love the concept of a FiLMiX. My process started with the music. I wanted to choose a diverse set of songs, so I made a big list of genres that I love. I landed on 4 different sounds: pop, rock, film music, and indie/hipster stuff. After combing through a lot of my Spotify playlists and iTunes playlists, I grabbed a collection of songs that felt like they accurately reflected the songs that influence and inspire me. I also included a couple tracks that were important to me during pivotal stages of life, like the Van Halen song and the Rage tune.
Next, I sorted them by BPM’s and tried to find a good way to connect all of them in an arc that would create an entertaining experience for the listener.
And why did you choose Bottle Rocket as your film? Are you a fan?
Choosing the film was by far the most difficult part of this process! I went back and forth on it for an embarrassingly long period of time, and came extremely close to choosing Waiting for Guffman or Disney’s version of Robin Hood.
I chose Bottle Rocket because it is filled with glorious quotations and lines that are humorous to listeners that may not have seen the movie. “Bob stole his car” is one of my favorite lines of all time. And “I’m not always as confident as I look” is brilliant. And of course, Owen Wilson’s delivery of every single line is golden.
What films are you into? What are your favourites?
Nostalgia always seems to dominate my list of favorite movies. I love the ‘80’s childhood classics like Secret of Nimh, Spinal Tap, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Some of my other favorites include Donnie Darko, Rushmore, Amelie, The Big Lebowski, Kill Bill, American Movie, Christmas Story, and Mr. Hublot. I also recently watched La La Land, and I think it’s going to be one of my all-time favorites. My wife and I left the theater shaking our heads and saying, “I can’t believe they made a movie about or lives.”
Do films influence your producing at all?
Absolutely. Most of my Brique a Braq songs are a result of getting a gig that involves writing for visual art, so the film obviously influences that process. Also, with FF5, we love images, and use them to shape our sound. A lot of the Dance or Die record was written right after we watched Daft Punk’s Instella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. One other time, we watched an entire documentary about kids who surf on top of cars before we wrote “Ghostride the Whip.”
Anything coming up in the future?
Always! I’m currently working at The Grid studio, where I’m working on a dark, sinister analog synth project with my friend Philip Zach. It doesn’t yet have a name, but it’s going to rule. Tomorrow, I’m flying back to shoot a music video for the new Family Force 5 single “Out of this World.” Also, a lot of the songs from the new Brique a Braq record “Cirque Noir” are finding homes in great film projects, and I’m doing some session guitar work on a few killer projects as well. Essentially, the future holds a lot of fun, and I am very grateful for it.