Ed, Edd n Eddy Composer Patric Caird Talks Netflix’s “The Order”, Clay Pots, and His Love of Scoring Hallmark Films
No matter if you’re a horror buff, a comedy lover, or in the mood for a relaxing summer romance movie, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the work of award-winning composer and musician, Patric Caird.
Best known in America for scoring the Cartoon Network animated classic, Ed, Edd n Eddy, Caird has been making waves in the industry for nearly three decades. And as a recipient of numerous accolades including a Genie Award (Canadian Oscar), as well as multiple Leo and SOCAN Music Awards, it’s clear that the skills of this highly decorated Canadian-American talent is in high demand.
Producing over 400 original scores throughout his career, Caird’s work can be found spanning a variety of genres across not only film, but television, and theatre alike.
Now, working closely with actor Fab Filippo of the hot new CBC “traumedy”, Save Me, as well as creator/producer Dennis Heaton of the popular Netflix horror series, The Order, fans are eager to see what direction Caird’s musical compass will point next.
So, before the upcoming season of both shows make their debut, we had the pleasure of speaking with Patric about, new material, experimenting with unique instruments, his love of scoring Hallmark films, and more!
Starting off with Save Me, the show has six Canadian Screen Award nominations, a Best Actress win for actress Emma Hunter, and has been renewed for another season. Congratulations on all the success!
Thank you, we love it!
How did you first get involved with Fab Filippo and composing the score for Save Me?
Fab and I have been friends for many years. He lives in Toronto. So, when I go up there, we usually get together, and when he comes to Los Angeles, he hangs out with my wife and I. In fact, he’ll be here next week which is very exciting!
We’d been talking for years about trying to get together on a project. He saw a production I did in Toronto called Peter and the Wolf with a theatre company called, Theatre Rusticle. It’s Artistic Director Allyson McMackon’s theatre company, and I’ve done music for them over the years.
That was cool because the orchestra was actually on stage with the dancers and actors and it was a “sensor around” event. That was a few years ago. Fab was even more excited about working together after he saw that. When he came up with the idea for Save Me, we had been talking a little bit and started sharing music back and forth. That’s basically how it went.
The first season of Save Me was really interesting because I would write some music and send it to Fab. He’d make some comments, I’d make some changes, and we’d go back and forth like that for a while. I would send him the master stereo mix of the music that I wrote, but I would also send him stems, which are the individual tracks. He and his editor, Sam Thomson, would work with the master, or the full stereo version. Then, they’d also go in and say, “well, we don’t need all of this here” and they’d just use part of the individual tracks. We called it “shattering” (laughs).
He’d say, send me some more shatters! So, I’d send him some more individual parts like a guitar or bass or piano part. We built it [the first season] collectively like that. It was really fun! They’d send me what they’d done, and I’d go over it as a final “qc” pass to make sure that it made musical sense or if it needed something here or a change there. It was very collaborative. Season Two was a little bit different, but we still had quite a bit of communication back and forth about how the music went.
I know fans have lovingly dubbed the show a “traumedy” (a mix of a trauma and a comedy). How did you first approach this unique combination from a musical standpoint, and embrace both sides of the production?
(laughs) Isn’t that great!
In Season One, it was very much coming up with that voice. Fab has such a human style. It’s tragedy, it’s comedy, it’s all of the above. It’s the traumedy! (laughs) He really seems to have a humanistic kind of touch to his work and it’s one of the things that I love about it. No matter how dark things get, someone’s going to kind of look at you, raise their eyebrows, and say something, which has been my experience of life on this planet so far! (laughs) You’re never too far away from a witty retort or some kind of joke. We were just trying to find a sound that expressed what it is to be a human being.
He would send over a bunch of music, and at that time, I was really influenced by Bon Iver [Justin Vernon], the nouveau folk artist. So, for a lot of those sounds, especially the hallucinogenic sound, I wanted to hear hands on instruments. There’s acoustic guitar and a lot of voices, but they’re all manipulated with production tools to make them sound not quite of this world. As if we’re just thinly ready to cross over.
Well, I was excited to hear that in Season Two, you’ve got a distinct indie-rock type of soundscape. You even have a choral arrangement of Loverboy’s ‘80’s classic, “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend”. How fun!
It was really great! Fab had written it into the script, and it closes the last episode. He came to me with the idea and said, “I want this community choir to be singing ‘Everybody’s Working for the Weekend’”. And, when I finally stopped laughing, I said, “let me write the arrangement for you”. I did, and he loved it!
We found a choir in Toronto. They did a wonderful job and appeared on camera as well. Then, the choir music segwayed into the actual Loverboy version of the song for the credits. It was a joy to do! In fact, I’m actually doing another arrangement with that same choir since we had so much fun doing the first one.
I’m excited to hear it!
Another interesting thing about Save Me, is it has an anthology structure which follows the same team of paramedics but has new patients and a new story each episode. Does this lead to more creative freedom or possibilities when it comes to the score?
Absolutely, that’s a great observation! One of the things I think is cool about Save Me, is that it’s about all the things that happen leading up to a 911 call. It’s focused on a different cast and a different circumstance every time, so the music has to reflect that.
For example, in Season Two, there’s an episode where there are stand-up comics, so there’s a lot of music in the clubs that they’re hanging out in. That’s licensed music. But my sound applies to their personal inner-life, which is fun and very different from what’s going on in terms of source music, or what they’re listening to.
Another episode in the second season is basically one, ten-minute long, solo piano piece that tracks the story. The show has many facets to it and it jumps around from scene to scene and from time to time. Fab and I figured it’d be interesting to have this one continuous through line throughout the jumping around. Plus, it has this slight dark noir character to it. So, we made the piece minor and mysterious and maybe a little bit baroque in it’s own special way.
You mentioned using licensed music and mixing in your own work. Do you think that your background as a former member of an award-winning jazz band gives you a different perspective when it comes to composing?
I do! I did quite a bit playing in not only in jazz bands, but rock bands, blues and pop bands over the years. I did some producing for various artists as well. I’m always looking around for new sounds so I’m not stuck in one style of music. I really enjoy doing a country song and then a Nine Inch Nails counting piece right after! For me, that’s exciting! (laughs) I love writing for orchestra and I love writing for voices. It’s having a bunch of different genres or styles that I’ve actually performed in, listened to, studied and dissected to figure out what’s making it tick. I think that’s very helpful, especially in an anthology show like Save Me where, as you pointed out, each show is a different environment.
Does your creative process change at all going between genres and different story lines, even within the same show? I know some composers might go for a walk or take a drive in a car for inspiration.
Usually my process is, I get up early in the morning and start working. I don’t go for that sort of clearing the head by a walk or car ride. (laughs) I just write. Then, at the end, I might say, “oh, that was a bad idea” and start over, or I’ll continue. Sometimes, it feels like I’m a bit of a machine, but I love it! Because once you get into the vibe and the big decisions have been made in terms of what’s the sound going to be, I can let the music flow.
Speaking about different genres, you also have Season Two of The Order coming out. Congrats on that as well!
Thank you! It’s going to be fantastic and I’m very excited. I was just at Comic Con in San Diego and there was a lot of buzz about the show. One-hundred and fifty thousand people show up for three days. I really enjoyed it. I’d been there once before years ago when Ed, Edd n Eddy was happening. It’s really grown into a celebration of media, television and such. It’s quite something!
Wasn’t Dennis Heaton (the showrunner of The Order), also the producer of Ed, Edd n Eddy back in the day?
Danny Antonucci created Ed, Edd n Eddy and Danny and Dennis had a company called a.k.a. Cartoon. He was a producer at a.k.a. Cartoon as well as the show we did before Ed, Edd n Eddy, called The Brothers Grunt. That was for MTV. Dennis was also involved in other things for a.k.a. Cartoon, like the Converse All Star commercials for example.
Dennis and I met through a company called International Rocketship. It was run by Marv Newland, who Danny was working with at the time, and a whole host of crazy animators. It was really a pretty magical place to be hanging around! Dennis started working there and he and I became very close friends and have remained so over the years.
That’s terrific! Do you think that knowing Dennis for such a long time helped you understand the characters in The Order on a deeper level?
Totally! (laughs) Dennis has the most amazing dark sense of humor. That’s why in The Order, people kind of think “well, what is it?” It’ll almost laugh at itself. The show will take itself very seriously and things will be really intense, and all of a sudden, not. Knowing him and knowing his sense of humor helps a lot! You know when it’s a joke or if you’re just hearing things.
I agree. It’s a great show because while it is horror, there’s also fun things like magic and werewolves running around! (laughs)
There’s a lot of potential there, that’s for sure. (laughs) How wild can we dream things up?!
I noticed that in the show, you have a grand orchestral sound going on, but I’d read that the original intent was actually to have something a little more modern versus operatic. Was there a turning point where the music spoke to you to shift gears?
Absolutely! I had just finished another Netflix show called Ghost Wars which was very traditionally orchestral, mostly strings but contemporary-modern atonal techniques for the most part, and it was fantastic. It was a classic horror score for me.
Then, when we had the opportunity to do The Order, I felt that it would be nice to explore, as you say, a more modern, sound. I was listening to a lot of European film music at the time. There’s some great stuff coming out of Europe with synthesizer or band-based music. I was hoping to bend things in that direction.
We started out that way and it was working great. And then, as the show went on, you’ve got these very elaborately staged sets and it’s very rich and lush looking stuff. One of the comments that Dennis would make was, “I love this. Can we get more operatic with it?” So, that called for more conventional instrumentation, and also slightly broader strokes. More melody and variation rather than a less melodic, more groove and percussion orientated score, which is what I had started with.
Of course, it’s got the different elements. The Order has a formal, steeped-in-tradition kind of feeling, which lends itself well to an orchestral sound. The knights are partiers but they’re also savages! Usually when we see the knights, I’ll have some snare drums and you’ll get that military vibe. Then, with the kids in the school and the licensed material, we have a more modern sound. So, short answer, the music did shift over the course of the ten episodes which I think was neat! (laughs) I’m excited to see where we’re going to take it starting in the fall and I start writing more music!
Even with the more traditional orchestra sound, I love how you were able to still incorporate some really out-of-the-box elements like the clay pots!
That was fun! There was this fantastic character. She played a crazy evil twin, and was just so off the hook and esoteric and weird. I wanted some kind of otherworldly sound when she was around because you never really knew what was going on. I used some clay pots that I picked up at a plant store. I thought it worked out really beautifully. Whenever her name came up or she showed up, you’d hear them kind of rattling around in the background. It’s nice to mix things up!
For grandpa Pete, Dennis’ note said he was unhinged. I looked around and found a guitar in my studio and I got a slide. So, whenever you hear Pete, the pitches are always slightly off and shifting around and bending because he can’t quite lock it in! (laughs)
It's great that you’re able to try new things and adapt!
Another area that I’m excited to speak with you about is your work with Hallmark.
I love the Hallmark movies! I think they’re fantastic and I really enjoy the people I work with very much. When it comes to these films, it’s kind of a known entity. We’re not going to be re-inventing the wheel! The wheel is just fine. What we’re going to be doing is making the ride as fun as possible. I appreciate that. For the Hallmark movies, I like to watch the show and get a feel for our main character. It’s usually a woman or at least the ones I’ve done have had female protagonists. Then, I’ll write a melody for her and sometimes I’ll write a counter melody for her love interest. Basically, the emotions are very straight ahead. One of the things about Hallmark is they like it when we keep things positive and upbeat. Even if we’re talking about something dark, the music doesn’t get dark with it. The music will stay neutral and positive.
Obviously, I’m going from a show like The Order, or I did an indie-horror movie with a friend of mine, Karen Lam, called The Curse of Willow Song, and I’m dealing in dark, gritty textures. Then, I’ll get two weeks to write a bunch of major chords with flutes and bells and strings. I love it! It’s such a great palate cleanser.
It sounds refreshing!
It is. And then you know, bang! I’m back into something crazy again which I also enjoy.
What originally drew you to or inspired the summer, romance genre coming from something like The Order?
Actually, it’s my collaborators! I work with some people in Vancouver called Sedona Films. I got together with them a few years ago and our first movie together was a SWAT movie with the guns and fighting and running around, and the military stuff. That was a blast.
Then, we did a dance movie with Director X, part of the Center Stage dance series, which is very big in the dance community. That was fun to do as well. They also have a series called When Calls the Heart, which is a big hit for Hallmark. They started doing some Christmas movies for Hallmark and that’s when they asked me if I wanted to come along. They’re the ones who introduced me to the Hallmark franchise and since then, I’ve done ten movies! I really enjoy the experience.
The interesting thing is, the Hallmark films outperform most of the other stuff on television in terms of ratings! There’s an audience for it. People are maybe a little bit tired of the guns and the killing and they want to spend ninety minutes watching some pretty people have a nice life with a bit of a complication that’s going to be fine in the end. I like that format a lot. (laughs)
Well, I was doing some research before this and started watching one of your Hallmark productions. It was hard to tear myself away! I got lost in the world of Hallmark!
(Laughs) It’s so funny because I’ll bump into someone and they’ll say, “well, I was over at my mom’s place and she was watching this movie and your name came up!” (jokes) And I’ll go, “oh really, you were over at your mom’s were you?”
(Jokes) Of course they were! How funny!
One of my last questions is, between all of your projects that you have in the works, do you have anything coming up or maybe some sneak peaks you could give us regarding Save Me, The Order, or any of the Hallmark productions?
A Summer Romance is coming out this month which is a recent Hallmark production. I’m also starting work on The Order in a couple of months and I have another movie with the same producers that I did the SWAT and the first Hallmark movies with. It’s coming up later in the year. It’s going to be an MMA movie which is going to be fun. I’m excited about doing that and getting back into the action genre for a while.
To wrap things up, I have a few fun fill-in-the-blank questions. Would you like to give it a go?
In my free time, I love to…
In my free time, I study music or I’ll go for a walk with friends. Composing is a very solitary thing, so I like to get together with people when I have some free time. And when I’m at home, I like to cook.
I enjoy Indian food. I was raised in Vancouver and there’s some fantastic Indian food restaurants there. One in particular called Vij’s. He has a cookbook and I basically cook from that!
If I could collaborate with one musician past or present, I would pick…
Last one for you! Something I can’t wait to do this summer is…
I’m going to Danny Antonucci’s son’s wedding next weekend. I can’t wait!
Coverage by Jessica Nakamoto
Images courtesy of Michael Becker
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