Amir Windom Explains How ‘Canal Street’ Soundtrack Came Together & Explains Films Incorporate Original Music
Rapzilla spoke to Grammy Award Winning Record Executive, Film Producer, and Film/TV Music Supervisor Amir Windom about Canal Street Film’s incredible soundtrack. Windom provided good insight into what it’s like to create and score music for film’s and get a cast of talented people together to make it. For this film, he served as Executive Producer & Music Supervisor.
In your experience, how important is having a good soundtrack accompany a film?
I believe in the last 10 years, with the evolution of digital music, especially music streaming companies; soundtracks have become gold. Everything is about singles and playlists. These are two things that a soundtrack essentially is and two things that really drive success with streaming companies. Soundtracks have also become a main marketing asset for films now. Dropping that brand new song in the movie/soundtrack from one of the top artists in the world now brings so much visibility to the film.
What are the pros and cons of putting out a film soundtrack over a year after the movie debuted?
Music can really live forever. You’re seeing songs that were released two years ago, become #1 songs on the charts two years after the release. So, releasing a soundtrack a year after the movie is a strategic move for a number of reasons.
1. It keeps the film alive. We release the soundtrack and it kind of reenergizes the excitement of the film and also reaches demos of people who may have forgotten to watch the film when it initially came out.
2. You can also get visibility from the soundtrack when the film debuts on TV. People are able to DVR, pause, rewind, Shazam the music at home. Versus if you’re watching it for the first time in the theaters, you’re more trying to follow the movie instead of pulling your phone out in the middle of it to find out what that song is.
1. Other popular movies releasing films/soundtracks around the same time you’re releasing.
2. Getting the full marketing support of digital retailers. They may feel the biggest audience was when the film was in the theaters, therefore, they may not financially support the marketing efforts as much.
How did you go about picking the features and producers of this album?
After reading the script and getting a full understanding of Rhyan LaMarr’s (Director) vision considering this film is a decade long concept; I sat back and really did a lay of the music land. Rhyan is a musical genius, so with him being a director and a music mind, it definitely helps the creative process.
I knew scoring the film was going to be a huge component of the film considering the emotional waves it had. Hence why I had to bring a variety of composers to the table.
Gretchen Yanover who’s a master Cello player really created the underscore for the film. She created a lot of mystery with her instruments. Michael Wave Lane was our traditional composer. He plays every instrument you can think of. Grammy-nominated producer Kevin Khao Cates was our unique composer. We knew we needed to blend a traditional score with some modern-day sound and Khao was the guy for that. Lastly, we knew Jazz was going to be a big component of our film too… Hence why I had a secret weapon in my pocket… My dad. He’s well known in the jazz world and started the legendary Atlanta Jazz Festival. I knew he could help gather some of the big names in the jazz world for them to create something original.
Then we focused on creating the original music. This means we created all the songs from scratch. I had to figure out who could create music that fit the film, including their image and brand. Once that’s determined, it’s all about the quality of music and abilities, relationships, and if they would help market and support the soundtrack.
How important is sequencing for a project like this?
Sequencing was pretty important. Considering the music was created for a film/particular scenes, the music was all over the place. Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Hip-Hop, Alternative. We really had just about every genre represented. So when it came to track listing, it was pretty challenging to find an order that created a smooth groove.
We wanted the soundtrack to feel like the movie though – Powerful, Captivating, Triumphant.
Did the artists on this project write the songs or was there a team? For those that wrote, were themes given to them?
Most artists wrote their songs themselves or with their own writing team. They also worked with me in creating the song. I would give them the scene and then give them the behind the scenes info for the scene. Then I would give them my creative musical thoughts for what can be created to compliment the scene, but also create something where the song could live beyond the scene and not be solely used just for the scene. So we can use the song on the soundtrack as well.
It’s my job to help the artists, writers, producers feel the scene. Also make sure what we’re creating is either complimenting what just happened or what will happen, without giving anything away. It’s essentially an executive producing job. I have to help the creatives on the project produce and write the songs.
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Was there a particular artist that tied this whole project together for you?
I believe Hollyn & Bri Babineaux were the depiction of what we wanted the soundtrack to feel like. The song “Do It” was just a genre-blending jam created by Kevin “Khao” Cates” and written by Rosemarie Tan and myself. It felt like what the Canal Street film and the soundtrack were about – that being this soundtrack doesn’t have one sound associated with it. Not one genre of music. You don’t know where we’re going next… Just like the film, the film was not specific to one race, one religion, etc. It was for everyone.
Hollyn & Bri really made a jam that tied the project together.
What were some of the biggest surprises of this project?
The biggest surprise was just how people were doing so much for this project because of the powerful message in the movie. Every last person that was a part of Canal Street from the director, to actors, cinematographer, music creatives on the soundtrack, etc really were working on this project because they wanted to help create some content that would add value to souls in this at times, very toxic world. I would just be surprised at how we got so many YES’ and smooth attitudes although at times, as normal, shooting a movie can be challenging in a number of regards.
You said this project could be up for Grammy consideration. What confirmation have you received that this is a possibility?
I’ve spoken to my colleagues and friends at the Grammy Foundation and this album can qualify for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media, Best Gospel album. Hoping we can thank everyone who made Canal Street happen with a Grammy nomination and WIN. For your consideration!
When crafting a movie soundtrack, how is it different than say, putting together a compilation?
Well, the main difference is, a lot of times for the soundtrack, the music was created for a particular scene and is original. Compilations for film are typically a collection of previously released music. The music is all featured on one project.
When you think of classic movie soundtracks, which ones come to mind?
Dead Presidents, The Dark Knight, The Lion King, Purple Rain, and Belly
Anything else to add?
Rhyan LaMarr… Thank You for adding me to Canal Street, and thank You to all the artists, writers, producers, engineers, labels, publishers, and managers that made Canal Street’s music a success. Thank You to Bishop Garnes, Kevin Mullens, Chris Jennings, and the other producers, and everyone who helped make Canal Street a success. Thanks Rapzilla for your commitment to the Kingdom.
The soundtrack can be streamed or bought here.