One of my early discussions with Kays was about source music. Although it was clear to me that certain types of music fit some scenes, there was also a lot of leeway in what to choose. Kays helped narrow the selection criteria. For example, we agreed that there be country music playing in the gun shop scene. When I told him I preferred a female singer there, he said, “Look for a female Hank Williams,” so I did.
I scoured the Internet looking for Texan female country singers with a perfect, polished voice and style. I finally found her—Kayla Ray. I loved her from the start. I sent a sample to Kays and he was equally impressed. But how to find her? I sent an email to her website contact form, to which there was no response.
As I waited to hear from Kayla, I tried to figure out how could I narrow the huge number of musicians down to those who’d be interested in trading inclusion in the movie for use of their music. In a huge stroke of good fortune, the answer was provided by our drone pilot.
Sparky Sorenson, drone pilot extraordinaire (about whom more later), used to be a country music artist. As a result, he was familiar with a wide range of Texas bands and solo artists. He offered to send out an email to his contacts asking for interested people to send me some of their audio files. The response was amazing. I had dozens and dozens of wonderful musicians to choose from, all of whom were interested in the trade I’d offered.
But Kayla Ray was not among them. I asked Sparky to try to locate her, so he did. And she said, “Yes.” I was overjoyed! I decided to push my luck and ask if I could use two of her songs, not knowing where the other would fit, but knowing I would find a place because I liked her so much. She agreed.
Then I began my review of the musicians who’d emailed me per Sparky’s request. I tried to match songs and instrumentals to individual scenes in my mind, and then would email Kays my suggestions. In some cases it was easy. The opening notes of Shaun Outen’s Señoritas and Tequila were an instant match to the bar scene with one of the villains. In other cases, I agonized and took weeks to decide which song would fit where. And, ultimately, there were some source-music needs for which I had no musicians yet.
One example was the scene in the apartment of the detective who was from Hawai’i. From the 13 years I’d lived on Kaua’i, I knew there were some fabulous ukulele players and I really wanted to showcase ukulele music, which can be so much more complex than the simple chords most people associate with it. So I returned to the Internet to look for just the right instrumental.
The first one I found was ideal, but the musician had the lackadaisical attitude of “I’ll do it tomorrow” that used to drive me crazy when I lived in Hawai’i. It would take him days to answer an email. I decided to keep looking.
The second musician I found was a young man who was willing for me to use his music, but told me that I had to go through his dad, who would handle everything. That turned out to be great because his father was business-minded and we soon had agreement to use two of Andrew Molina’s instrumentals.
One of the most unusual pieces we used as source music was by Fredrick Chopin. Kays came up with the idea for it in the art gallery scene. He arranged it and it suits the scene very well.
The final example of source music that required more time than I’d expected was the song for the taco shop. Kays suggested we get an upbeat, Mariachi sort of song. When I kept running into obstacles finding someone local and who could speak English, I finally asked one of our Spanish-speaking cast members for help. He sent me some songs from a couple of his friends and one was perfect.
Selecting the source music took many, many hours of work that was mostly fun. The parts that were not so enjoyable was preparing a template for the License Agreement, sending it to my attorney for comment, getting it signed by everyone, and obtaining information about royalties. Through it all, I was lucky to have an interested and helpful partner, Kays.