Brian Reitzell is the former drummer of iconic punk band Redd Kross. He's also collaborated with French electronic duo Air to score Sofia Coppola's 1999 directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides. Since then, he's been Coppola's go-to music supervisor, including on Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, and The Bling Ring.
“When I first met Sofia she was a 19 year old kid studying photography at Cal Arts,” says Reitzell. “We didn't really know what we were doing at the time.”
More than 20 years later, Reitzell is one of the most desired music directors and composers working. Scoring music for film, television (Hannibal, Boss), and video games (Watch Dogs), he's dipped his toes in a little bit of everything.
Last week he released his debut, Auto Music, an album that took more than 10 years to make. It's a “soundtrack to driving. It's scoring what you're seeing out the window,” he says.
Seeing as he normally composes for surround sound, Reitzell created tracks that isolate the listener, like if they were in a dark theater or in a room alone, he says. There are no lyrics, so the record acts as background music for “getting from point A to point B in this city.”
The track “Oskar” was inspired by reels of Oskar Fischinger's pre-Fanstasia animations. “Gaudi” was prompted by Japanese director Horoshi Teshigahara's 1984 film Antonio Gaudi, while tracks “Ozu” and “Ozu Choral” – featuring Jim James of My Morning Jacket – were composed to the works of Reitzell's favorite director, Yasujir? Ozu.
The songs were written on a bowed piano and an mbira, also known as the African “thumb piano,” which formed the entire rhythm section. “It's funny when people tell me 'that was some good shoegazey guitar' and I'm like, 'that's not even a guitar.”
The opening track, “Last Summer” – featuring Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine – reflects on where the mind travels during long periods of time on the road. It's over 8 minutes long.
Considering half the songs on Auto Music are more than 7 minutes, Reitzell must spend a lot of time in the car.