BWW Interview: Award-Winning Composer Patric Caird Talks Netflix's THE ORDER and ED, EDD n EDDY
Award-winning Canadian composer Patric Caird has worked in film and television since the early 1990s, creating more than 400 scores for a variety of programming including animation, documentaries, comedy and drama that has been broadcasted world-wide. Caird currently scores Netflix's horror drama series The Order, which was recently renewed for Season 2, as well as Fab Filippo's CBC comedy series Save Me which won a Canadian Screen Award and has six additional nominations. He took the time to speak with us about his career as a composer and how he got into music.
Tell me a bit about your background, how did you first get into music?
I started playing tenor saxophone in band class in grade 9. I shifted schools in grade 10 and my band teacher there was a wonderful and intensely inspiring sax/clarinet player who encouraged his students to practice beyond what was merely necessary to play the repertoire. He is the reason I excelled on the sax - by the end of my high school years I knew that music was going to be my career and was practicing 4 hours a day, and also transcribing and studying music.
You've played and toured with jazz and blues artists as a jazz saxophone player, how did get into composing from there?
Playing in various jazz bands during my early years afforded me the opportunity to compose and arrange for a wide variety of ensembles. I also did a lot of session work in the recording studios and was familiar with the recording and production in the days before everyone had a music studio on their laptop. I always loved literature, film, acting, and theater so applying my skillset to composing/producing for picture/story was a natural extension for me.
You recently worked on Netflix's The Order, how did you get involved with that project?
Dennis Heaton - creator/showrunner of The Order - and I had been friends since my very first forays into composing music for picture with Marv Newland's Vancouver animation company International Rocketship. Over the years we have worked on many, many projects in several genres - animation, documentary, short film, long form narrative, and TV series. Most recently we worked together on the Netflix supernatural series Ghost Wars starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Kim Coates. When Dennis was asked to make The Order he brought me onto the creative team.
Animator, Danny Antonucci has been a longtime collaborator for you. Most notably, you worked on Cartoon Network's Ed, Edd n Eddy together. How did the two of you begin working together?
Danny and I met in the mid 80s while he was working at International Rocketship. He and I lived in the same apartment complex with our young families. We shared a love of Scotch and Sinatra among other things. He was instrumental in introducing me to Marv Newland and Dennis Heaton and the rest of the gang at Rocketship. We worked together on many projects from Converse All Star commercials to MTV and Nickelodeon station IDs. It was a great creative period where we also made the controversial MTV animated series, The Brothers Grunt. When Danny conceived Ed, Edd n Eddy he came to me to do the music. We used a live six piece jazz band and recorded the score live to picture for every episode. It was a fantastic experience - grueling at times... but wonderful and so rewarding!
You've composed for both live action and animated projects. Is there one you prefer or is there one that is more difficult to score?
I love writing music and enjoy the different challenges each genre presents - whether animated or live action, documentary or dance. In the end each project has its own unique needs that have to be discovered and accomplished. It's a never-ending discovery process.
Fab Filippo's CBC comedy Save Me is another recent series you've composed for. Are there any specific challenges that come with scoring a comedy?
I love scoring comedy! Many of the series I've scored over the years usually contain an element of humor (The Dead Zone, These Arms of Mine, Rake) - in fact you can't really have "life" without a laugh now and then! We referred to Save Me as a "trauma-dy" (HA!) and it is exactly that. Fab has a wonderful, unique worldview where he can find the heart and humor in everything - sometimes you're not sure whether to laugh or cry. To me that's as rich as it gets.
How much creative freedom did you have while composing that show? Was there a clear direction or were you able to experiment?
Fab and I collaborated very closely on the score for the show. I was given some direction and at the same time plenty of room to contribute my own ideas - through the process of communicating back and forth, revising and re-conceiving, I think we arrived at a totally unique voice befitting a totally unique show.
Do you have a favorite genre you like to compose for best?
I love sound. I love harmony. I love melody and rhythm. All of these elements are essential to a successful score. Thomas Newman is a wonderful example of a composer who can score any genre and maintain his own distinct voice. I'd like to be like Tom.
Is there one person you'd love to collaborate with that you haven't had a chance to yet?
Great question! Whomever I work with I like to have a deep creative connection with. I like to inform my music with as many inspirational touchstones as possible - other films/TV naturally, but also literature, visual art, theater, dance, architecture. Anyone who is passionate about the work and making deep, nuanced, and impactful stories is my ideal collaborator.
People like Ray McKinnon who made the incredible Rectify. Dave Kajgenich who made the existential The Terror. Stefano Sollima who made the visceral Italian series Gomorrah. Bruce Miller continues to stretch boundaries with The Handmaid's Tale. I'd love to work with Moira Walley-Beckett, Jesse Armstrong, Sarah Treem. These are the people finding new and brilliant ways to tell complex human stories. It's an exciting time to be making television!
When you're not composing, what do you enjoy doing?
When I'm not working I'm studying, watching, listening. I also love to cook and roast my own coffee.
Do you have any advice for anyone pursuing music as a career, like anything you wish you knew when you were starting out?
It may sound corny but I don't think you can love the work too much. Love music. Love film/TV. Love story. Love the craft. You pay attention to what you love and music rewards those who pay attention. And say yes to everything - you never know where your next break or breakthrough may come from. Do your absolute best on every project. Leave no stone unturned. Every project deserves your best work. In the end no one will care how quickly or cheaply you did something if it sounds like crap or doesn't work well.
Can you tease any other upcoming projects?
Well, we know about Season 2 of The Order - which is great! I'm very excited to get back into all those fantastic characters! I am also collaborating with Fab Filippo on a theater project - which shall remain nameless - but is hilariously funny (as you would expect from Fab!) and promises to be a blast! Plus, Karen Lam's next indie horror feature is set to launch later this year, which I scored. It's called The Curse of Willow Song - keep an eye out for it!
Keep up with Patric by visiting https://www.patriccaird.com
Photo courtesy of Patric Caird