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SURF'S UP

About The Music
Music plays an important role in any film, and that's especially true in Surf's Up. In making a film about a culture that has always been closely associated with music, the filmmakers' first task was to ask themselves what sound would best suit the story of Cody Maverick.

"We wanted the music to be very much now,” says producer Christopher Jenkins. "We didn't want to have any kind of an antiquing quality to the movie. So we naturally went towards pop, punk, surf, bands like Ms. Lauryn Hill, Green Day, Incubus – bands that represent that teenage feeling of rebellion and reaching for something. At the same time, we knew that if we were going to have some ‘historical footage' in the movie, we could underscore it with music from the era.”

"We are thrilled to be a part of the return of Ms. Lauryn Hill,” says Liza Richardson, the music supervisor, who is known to the public as a popular host on Southern California's flagship National Public Radio station KCRW. "She has written and recorded a real summer jam session for Surf's Up that's very celebratory. Apparently, she related to Big Z's story of reaching the top, checking out for a while, soul searching, and then reemerging with joy. We're glad to have her back where she belongs!”

As an example of how songs are used to add power and nuance to the story and help define the characters, Jenkins points out that Green Day's "Holiday” perfectly underscores Cody's tenacious quality at the beginning of the film, "It exemplifies his journey in the way that you might imagine young kids might listen to this song,” he says. "We had been looking for the right song, the right opener, as we got to know Cody Maverick. As it was getting late in production, I was at home one evening and my 16-year-old son was playing his guitar, playing along to a song I didn't know. I said, ‘That's a marvelous riff – what is that?' And he told me. It was ‘Holiday' by Green Day. We tried it the next day and we fell in love with it. From that point on, we had to have that track in the movie.”

Different characters, of course, require different kinds of music. "Chicken Joe has the strangest music – kind of a jungle jazz,” says Jenkins. "We were trying all kinds of different music and nothing was landing. Liza Richardson, our music supervisor, was the one who would say, ‘This is good, but we can do better,' and she would come up with something really great.”

Richardson was also responsible for getting Sugar Ray to write an original song for the film. "It really connects,” says Jenkins of the song. "It puts you on the beach, it makes you feel the sand between your toes and the warm water around you. It's the kind of song that gets you into the zone of ‘I'm on vacation and I'm going to have a great time.' It's really cool.”

As he hinted, Big Z also required his own sound. "If he were in the real world, Big Z would be a 50s kind of surfer,” Jenkins says. "So we thought about surf-guitar safaris. We also thought about the very laid-back Hawaiian slack-keyed guitar pieces for Z – and our composer, Mychael Danna, wrote some very cool pieces for the film.”

Jenkins says that Danna's score is a key ingredient. "Like his score for ‘Little Miss Sunshine,' he writes fantastic, quirky music,” he notes. "He writes for the characters and for the movie and never gives you the cliché. It's like looking into a deep pool – his score has many swirling elements and you can feel them all coming out. His score is the emotional completion of our characters.”

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