Jóhann Jóhannsson is known for his work on the Icelandic music scene, but his film work can be heard in Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything and most recently Sicario which sees Jóhannsson collaborating with Denis Villeneuve again. I managed to have a quick chat with the composer in between projects.
On working with Denis Villeneuve:
“It’s my second collaboration with Denis after Prisoners which was the first film I scored for him. It was a pleasure to work with him again. We have a great working relationship and I like his work a lot, his visual style and theatrics, which is all compatible with the way I work and my voice as a composer.
I was a part of the project before he began shooting. He sent me the script really early on. I traveled to New Mexico and got to visit the set which gave me a chance to absorb the atmosphere and feel of the location and the land. It was a strong film and I had great material to work with.”
On scoring Sicario:
“You could tell it was going to be tense and strong, but it was really down to seeing the visuals, the performances and I wrote based on that.
Denis sent me a rough cut of the film and I wrote based on that. He likes to do the first edit without music. I received an edit with nothing at all, not even temp music, so I started from a blank space.”
On the first scene he scored in the film:
“The first scene I scored was the long helicopter shot, that convoy scene driving into Juarez. I had three or four different ideas, and one stood out, it was far more intense and violent than the others. Something that had a strong, relentless quality. It was actually my favorite, and Denis picked that, and really set the tone for writing the rest of the movie.”
Here’s a snippet of Jóhannsson’s work from Sicario