Intrada : to Disney and beyond!
After celebrating 25 years of existence in 2011, Intrada has managed a real treat with the launch of the Disney/Intrada collection, releasing on CD for the very first time Up and The Black Hole. Such a relationship between the label and the Mickey studio is ultimately not a surprise, as the two entities are working together since the beginning of Intrada. However, the release of The Black Cauldron and The Avengers are significant and strategic events, boosting Intrada’s position in the market after the announcement of the end of Film Score Monthly. UnderScores offers you a new interview with Roger Feigelson, producer and marketing director at Intrada.
Can you take us back to the roots of your relationship with Disney, in 1987, with Goldsmith’s Night Crossing?
It was the first Disney score we went after. At the time, Jerry Goldsmith’s Night Crossing was my favorite unreleased score by Goldsmith. Actually, I think it was my favorite unreleased score. I wasn’t with Intrada at the time, but certainly encouraged Doug Fake to pursue it. He called Disney and since no one had ever asked to do a catalogue soundtrack from them before, they weren’t sure what to do. «You want to do what? Is that a new film?» Eventually, it all worked out and Night Crossing became our first Disney album. So once we became a bit of a known entity to them, it was a little easier to do some of their more current projects, like Honey, I Blew Up The Kid by Bruce Broughton.
For a few years, Intrada released Disney titles like Horner’s A Far Off Place in 1993 and the expanded version of Night Crossing in 1994. These releases stopped in the mid-90’s. Why?
Most of that was before my time, but at the time the union didn’t have their historic new use rates structure, which made catalog releases recorded in the U.S. very expensive. Night Crossing had been recorded in England, but most of the stuff was recorded in the U.S. so we didn’t have these discounted fees and they were just too expensive to pursue. Until the union created the historic rates, catalog releases were quite uncommon if recorded in the U.S.
More than a decade later, in 2008, Intrada renewed the partnership with Disney with the milestone release of Goldsmith’s Baby, Secret Of The Lost Legend, followed the next year with Horner’s Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and Something Wicked This Way Comes. How were you finally able to release these scores?
The union fee change was part of it. The other challenge arose, since it was so long since we’d done Night Crossing : the people had changed and we needed to re-educate them why it was such a good idea to do it and get them back on board. Ultimately Disney was more enthusiastic than I could have ever hoped and I’m really grateful to them for giving us this opportunity.
In 2011, Intrada released the CD of Giacchino’s Academy-Award winning score from Up. It was the first time that an independent record company released a CD from a Disney animated film since Mancini’s The Great Mouse Detective. How did you manage such an important achievement?
They actually approached us. They decided they really wanted to see a physical product of some of their albums, but have slowly been moving their business to a download only model. I imagine they’d seen the quality of the previous albums that we’d done with them and also felt that we were proficient at reaching the audience interested in this kind of music, that we could get it out to collectors. So they would produce the albums and then we would take them to market.
Beside this new venture called Disney/Intrada, Intrada continues to develop its own projects with live-action movies such as John Scott’s Shoot To Kill and more recently with Poledouris’ & Zimmer’s scores for White Fang. When you’re working on those releases, are you dealing with a different branch of Disney?
No, it’s many of the same people. And Randy is in fact very instrumental in helping find musical sources for us. We have our own list of titles we want to release and he has his list of titles he wants to do and we discuss which goes where. Of course, if they want to have it co-branded, I’m not in the position to argue with them (laughs). If they don’t want to make it, we produce it by ourselves. Either way is a win-win for collectors!
At first, Intrada produced physical releases of already download-only releases: Up, The Black Hole, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Toy Story 3. For some of these, the content was the same, but for others, it was reworked…
Up and Toy Story 3 were produced by the composers : that’s the program they wanted for the CD. For The Black Hole, it was produced in 1979, so we knew it was designed for a market that is different than the one we sell to today. And of course there was so much good music not on that original album that we really wanted to see that one expanded. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is pretty comprehensive and they released it with what was available. We’re always encouraging expansions when it’s possible.
Then you released an entirely unreleased score from a major animated movie, Elmer Bernstein’s The Black Cauldron. Does this release mean that Disney is more confident with Intrada now?
I don’t think so, we talked about that title early on, even before the co-branded series came up. We wanted to do it and so did Randy. We talked about the animated titles when we were doing Baby : Secret Of The Lost Legend and titles like that. At the time they didn’t want to license the animated stuff. But with the co-branded line, they retain a lot of control over those properties.
There are no songs in The Black Cauldron, but most of their other animated movies feature songs…
Having songs or not in the score is not the issue : if they want it out, whether or not the title has been done before, anything is possible.
A Disney Park compilation CD appears to be highly requested by collectors. Did you ever talk with Randy Thornton about it?
Yes. Yes we did.
Last year, a prestigious boxset dedicated to the collaboration between Burton and Elfman was released. It contains an expanded version of The Nightmare Before Christmas, originally released by Walt Disney Records in 1993. Does the existence of this box prevents the re-release of The Nightmare Before Christmas on the Disney/Intrada line?
It’s not a title we discussed and there’s already the album out there, which could be problematic. But there’s so much other stuff that hasn’t been tapped, it’s not a high priority right now.
Your latest release with Disney is Alan Silvestri’s score for The Avengers, in a longer version on CD than the digital release. This is the first time since the beginning of the venture with Disney that Intrada releases a contemporary score…
Yes, and again it shows their focus on downloads rather than physical media. We figured that if we’re charging more for the physical release than the download, we really needed to offer a bit more and Disney was supportive of that idea.
Intrada has a special relationship with Silvestri. After Delta Force and Judgement Night, Back To The Future was one of the most acclaimed releases of 2009. Then, you released Predator (twice)…
He’s very easy to work with and always very enthusiastic about seeing his music released. Often times we’ll assemble the album and send to him for his approval and he’s generally been very happy with what we do. I credit that entirely to Doug Fake, of course, who’s a musician and a composer in his own right. It’s his musical acumen that really puts him a step above anyone else in producing albums and I think all the composers we work with have come to appreciate and trust Doug’s judgment when assembling an album, barring a tweak here and there!
For Disney, Silvestri also scored Lilo & Stitch and A Christmas Carol. The former had only 10 minutes of score on the CD while the Zemeckis animated movie received a download-only release. Do you plan to re-release these scores?
I would say anything is fair game. It’s on my list and I’ll ask Randy eventually. The list is long, but anything is possible!
Once Upon A Time is the first Intrada release of a Mark Isham score. How was it to collaborate with him?
ABC approached us for this because they like how we produced previous albums with them. It’s in our MAF series, our unlimited line, because we hope to have a wider appeal as it’s a big TV series with a larger audience. There should be more interest than typical score buyers for our catalog releases. With Isham, we talked a lot by the phone and by email. He provided a roadmap for the album and we worked against his specs. Mark is very happy about this release.
Can we expect a definite release of Georges Delerue’s rejected score from Something Wicked This Way Comes?
I would love to do it! I’ll just leave it at that!
May Disney work with other labels or have you got an exclusive partnership?
We’re the only label working with Disney right now. But Disney can do whatever they want!
What’s your favorite unreleased score from the Disney’s archives that you would love to release?
Now that Horner’s Journey Of Natty Gann and Something Wicked This Way Comes and Bernstein’s The Black Cauldron are done, I would say it’s Johnny Mandel’s Escape To Witch Mountain. It has got a great Main Title! Of course I’d love to see Bruce Broughton’s theme park scores out as well. I’d also love to see Frédéric Talgorn’s Angels In The End Zone done, but there’s probably a limited market for that, even within our limited market!
Last year, Intrada celebrated its 25th anniversary. What’s your view on its longevity? Is there a formula for success?
I would say it’s a combination of a few things : the quality of our product, our integrity when collaborating with licensors, publishers and the union (I think they honestly enjoy working with us), not to mention keeping a focus on the business aspects and adjusting strategy as the market changes.
Intrada released last month the original tracks from Mancini’s Charade. While you already released albums from this studio, the banner «Universal 100th Anniversary» appearing at the top of the front cover is something new. Can we expect more?
Both Universal and Intrada hope so! We are working with them to tie in their Centennial Blu-Ray releases this year. Rights are always a problem, because many titles are tied up with major labels, making progress slow. But for the ones Universal controls outright, we’re jumping. Universal was very eager to have a series of albums come out in celebration of their centennial.
You also released another score from Mancini, Hatari! And, like Charade, all the previous versions were re-recordings… How do you explain that it took such a long time to have those original versions finally available?
For years the record labels controlling the recordings weren’t interested. With Charade, they were very supportive. For Hatari!, it was only a few years ago that Paramount started licensing their back catalog, so that is a major shift.
Bruce Broughton can tip his hat to Intrada and vice-versa as Intrada released more than 30 CDs of his work. What can you say on such a long and close collaboration? And can we expect the release of Young Sherlock Holmes this year?
Doug and I are big fans of his work. We have built a great relationship with him. We love to release his stuff and he loves to see his stuff released. And Young Sherlock Holmes is definitely coming as soon as we can do, maybe this year. Maybe.
How do you explain that other labels don’t issue much of Broughton’s work?
For the most part I think the other labels see us as the Broughton label, so they steer clear. At the time, FSM had an exclusive with the Turner catalog, so it made sense for them to release The Ice Pirates and Logan’s Run, although I think Doug actually produced The Ice Pirates album for FSM.
You announced last year that you were working on Basil Poledouris’ most famous score, Conan The Barbarian, and its sequel, Conan The Destroyer. Can you tease us about those two upcoming releases?
The masters for Conan The Barbarian were long rumored to be lost. But the 24-track elements were neatly stored in Universal’s vault! I guess no one actually went looking for them. For Conan The Destroyer, people say Basil was not happy with the performance. Frankly, I grew up with this score and the performance never really struck me as that bad. It’s what I’m used to. And let’s be honest, performance isn’t everything. Back in high school, I was working at a Tower Records in the classical music department, and we used to play a lot of albums. My coworkers went crazy because I would always play this particular recording of Holst’s The Planets performed by a college orchestra. My colleagues asked «Why do you listen to that crappy performance of The Planets when there are professional recordings of it?» And I would respond, «I know there are mistakes, but these guys put so much passion in it, who cares about the mistakes?» (laughs). That’s it to me : the passion of the performance, not the perfection of the playing. Almost exact same thing happened when we were recording the skeleton fight at the end of the Jason And The Argonauts. Complicated piece, and Bruce Broughton who was conducting came back into the booth after numerous takes and said «We got it. But, while this last version is technically perfect, you can’t beat the enthusiasm of their playing from the first take.» So guess which version we put on the album? So does Conan The Destroyer have performance mistakes? Probably? Do I care? Not really. I think it’s a fun listen and frankly reflects the spirit of the film. For Conan The Barbarian, the master is done. It’s three CDs and it’s truly complete: it contains everything, including alternates and the original album program. It’s assembled from the 24-track masters, which have never been heard before. All previous album releases came from ¼” masters, and the movie is in mono. So there are details in the music that have never been heard before. At least not unless you were there live for the recording. For Conan The Destroyer, we have all the elements but we haven’t started putting them together yet.
Before being released by Intrada, Robocop was released twice on CD by Varèse Sarabande. Does it mean we can hope for the highly-requested reissue of Poledouris’ score for Starship Troopers, also previously released by Varèse Sarabande?
I don’t think so. This score was released in the 1990’s by Varèse, and they had to pay a large sum of money to musician’s union so - and this is just speculation - I think Varèse has it in perpetuity. I guess (and I would have negotiated the same deal if I were them), that since they paid huge re-use fees for many albums in the 90s, they control many 90s albums in perpetuity. We discovered that with Robocop 2 and Robocop 3. I guess it’s the same case with Starship Troopers. If those scores come in expanded editions, it will come from them.
After a thirteen year hiatus, Intrada re-launched its Excalibur Collection, a prestigious series of re-recordings, with Miklos Rozsa’s Spelbound in 2007. You recently announced the next release, coming this autumn, of a re-recording from Rozsa’s The Red House. What did motivate you for such a re-recording and why did you choose to announce it six months early?
We have to thank Paul Talkington for that project : he wanted to do it for a very long time. When we recorded Spellbound, he was our partner and he invested in it. Even before the recording was done, he said «Now we have to do The Red House - we HAVE to do The Red House…» He really wanted it as part of the Excalibur Collection. We announced it earlier because it was a way to mark the Rozsa’s 105th birthday anniversary.
After England and Slovakia, why did you select Scotland for The Red House, with Allan Wilson conducting?
It was all Paul’s doing. Paul supervised the project, he got the score reconstructed by Kevin Kaska, he contracted the orchestra, worked with Alan, booked the hall… It’s his project from beginning to the end.
For the same score, what is more expensive : a reissue or a re-recording?
Re-recordings are very expensive and that’s why you won’t see so many of them. It’s very hard to recover the cost.
Since the unexpected success of Explorers in 2011, you decided to un-number the limited editions of your releases. Can you explain the reasoning behind this and can you make a first report about this strategic choice?
We were frustrated when a title would sell out in a day or so, if not hours. Because we knew there were people not getting their copy and we knew there were people who had to get their copies on eBay for inflated prices. It wasn’t good for us, for the market and honestly, we were tired of a marketing strategy built around people feeling pressured to buy stuff. So we stopped limiting the quantity and our sales are pretty much the same without a number written on the releases and people don’t have to stay up in the middle of the night to see what we announce. You can get a better night’s sleep!
French people thank you for that!
Now you can wake up, have your coffee, log on our website and our CDs will be there for you! But at the same time, we don’t want to sit on loads of inventory. As much we don’t want to pressure people to order, we warn that titles won’t be there forever and you need order them sooner rather than later.
Intrada collaborated in the past with Lukas Kendall. How do you see the fact that FSM is going out of business?
Lukas wanted to get out. There is good part in producing and there is bad part. Paper shuffling, dealing with strong personalities - there’s a lot of that. I think Lukas was tired of the whole thing. However, he wants to keep in the game so will be instrumental in helping us with many projects.
More and more scores that were once requested are now being released. Do you think there is a risk of rupture in the market once everyone has gotten his “Holy Grail list” completed? Do you count on a renewal of generations?
I think interest in soundtracks is sinking slowly. There’ll always be new people discovering soundtracks but I don’t think that film music today will motivate people start being a collector.
Beyond, what would be the major risk, on your point of view, which could face this niche market?
Running out of titles to release! Our audience is pretty loyal but eventually we may run out of things to provide to them!
The last time we talked, you said «My worst experience is usually dealing with licensors who just aren’t interested in exploiting their property. Trying to get a license on Elmer Bernstein’s Slipstream has been inexplicably impossible.» How did you feel when Perseverance Records released Slipstream and later stopped their sales on it due to legal problems? Does the withdrawal of this release mean it could be reissued?
I was very surprised when they released because I had witnessed firsthand how difficult the licensor had been. I figured «if they had broken through, good for them! I’ll buy a copy!» Hopefully Robin will get the things worked out and will be able to put it back on the market.
You also told then that «The Salamander, Volunteers and House Of Usher are just a few that I really wanted to do, but the master elements are missing.» Since then, Baxter’s House Of Usher was released since by Intrada. Did you also make a happy discovery with the masters of Goldsmith’s The Salamander and Horner’s Volunteers?
We have to make sure, but we MAY have found the tapes for Volunteers! We first have to check them but if they are indeed Volunteers, we’ll work with the licensor on releasing it. Nothing was found for The Salamander. I don’t think we’ll find it. I think it’s in land fill.
What can people expect from Intrada for the rest of 2012?
We’ll see more Disney’s titles, more Warner Bros. titles, some things that will make people very happy. Another TV Series of several volumes is coming.
Last but not least, John Williams is turning 80 years old this year. Can we expect Intrada to celebrate this joyful event?
Uh…no. Not that I can remember. Not a whole lot left of his to work on, either!
Interview conducted on May 4th and June 25th 2012 by Olivier Soudé
Transcription : Olivier Soudé
Pictures : © DR
Thanks to Roger Feigelson