Monkeys Fighting Robots

Cindy O’Connor is a veteran music-maker with a long list of credits that include sonic-trips across a variety of genres. Being the dedicated lovers of all things entertainment that we are, Monkeys Fighting Robots caught up with Cindy to talk about her career in making music for genre TV and film.

Researching Cindy’s filmography, my eye landed on a late-90s hit action film starring Wesley Snipes. Yes, Cindy worked on Blade and about her experience she says “It was one of the first things I worked on when I started assisting Mark Isham. It was fun. Total grunt work.”

“It was the sound of a small, creepy women’s choir.”

Cindy’s hand was involved in working on The Crazies, a remake of the George Romero film. “Yeah, I’ve been involved in a number of horror projects.” Indeed, Cindy worked on The Conjuring series and The Mist.

Monkeys Fighting Robots Youtube

What did Cindy’s work involve? “I sang [for The Conjuring]. It was the sound of a small, creepy women’s choir. Doing kind of dissonant sounds and murmuring. And then they used some of that for The Conjuring 2.”

Cindy has worked across every conceivable film genre. So what’s her favorite? “I love a variety. Comedies are always fun. Horror movies you get to have your players do interesting things. Everyone loves drama because you get to make beautiful themes. But if I had to pick one, it would be fantasy. Something like Once Upon A Time where the music can be larger than life.”

“I got so used to, ‘here’s your scene’ and
that would guide what I would have to create.”

“More than once they’ve traveled to different realms and we got to create a sonic world for this realm. We went to the world of Jekyll and Hyde, this Victorian era with industrial and science stuff. We came up with sort of a baroque string quartet with industrial sounds.”

How does Cindy feel now that Once Upon A Time is over? “The first Friday without any work to do for the show was weird. But it was great fun. I was glad to be a part of it.”

What’s coming next for Cindy? “At this very moment, I’m writing a concert piece that I’m going to have performed with a live orchestra over the summer in the Czech Republic.”

“Usually it’s pretty fast and furious.”

There was a bit of a problem for Cindy and the current piece she’s writing. “The piece is for a deeper study of composing for Film and TV. I have to write a three-minute piece. But it’s about anything. I got so used to, ‘here’s your scene’ and that would guide what I would have to create.”

What’s the schedule like when working on a show like Once Upon A Time? “Usually it’s pretty fast and furious. We get picture and timing notes on a Tuesday morning. Then Mark Isham, myself and the team discusses which scenes each of us will do.”

Is there ever a scene that everyone wants to score? “Absolutely. But Mark is the boss, so he gets to pick.”

“We have a genius music editor who keeps track of all the music.”

The relentless pace for a TV production continues “We try to finish everything by Saturday night and get it to the orchestrators. Monday night we record and Tuesday we get the next episode.”

TV show characters often come with a musical theme which is reused from episode to episode when necessary. “We have a genius music editor who keeps track of all the music. He will figure out how much new music is required. We have seven seasons of evil Rumplestiltskin sounds, so we probably don’t need to make anything new for that.”

As always, I end with one question to help spread the love: Who is a composer you admire working today? “I really love John Powell’s work. I love the stuff he did on How To Train Your Dragon and his sort of adventure music. His score for the Bourne movies was a fresh way to do action. I’m really excited to see what he did with Solo too.”

Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.