Whether the trip is around the world or down the street, every journey requires the perfect soundtrack. Scottish hip-hop producer S-Type composed that essential soundtrack for the score of “A Series of Short Journeys,” Cadillac’s new four-film series directed by indie filmmaker Sam De Jong. While his music production experience lies primarily within the hip-hop realm, S-Type, né Bobby Perman, was eager to delve into unexplored territory to tell the stories of these journeys with his sounds. “I try to approach everything I make in a different way from the last, so I’m always looking to challenge myself with new styles,” S-Type explains. “With this, I had to be aware that every sound I chose would play a part in the storytelling and the impact of the narrative.”
S-Type’s melodies truly shape the characters’ experiences in the films. In “Ladybird,” the suspenseful opening short, ominous music matches the intense, cinematic lighting provided by the LED headlamps of the Cadillac Escalade. In “Grace,” the closing short, the cheery tunes of the Cadillac CT6’s Bose Panaray Sound System offer an active businesswoman a soothing escape. Each short has a distinct tone, which S-Type echoes in the score.”‘Ladybird’ has a very dark and tense tone, so I wrote something sinister and minimal,” he says. “‘Grace’ is bright and powerful and triumphant, so the music reflects that with big brass chords and a choir melody.” Watch “Ladybird” and “Grace” below, along with a conversation with S-Type about his work on Cadillac’s “A Series of Short Journeys.”
NATALIA BARR: What was your starting point for the score?
S-TYPE: I would say it was simply playing to the picture: loading the films and improvising to the films. They all called for different specific emotions and I followed my instincts with it. They are fairly intuitive for the most part, but there’s some surprises where characters’ roles change and I flip key in unorthodox ways to try express that. For the most part there are full tapes worth of new music in these short films that are quite distinct from the beats I’ll just make on my own. They definitely carry an air to them that could only come from working with Sam’s films.
BARR: What was your creative process of composing the score?
S-TYPE: I sat in my studio, watching the first edits of the films on loop for hours, zoning out, trying out different progressions and melodies. We shared edits back and forth over a couple of weeks, developing my ideas into full scores. Because of the time difference with me being in Glasgow and the director in New York, I was mostly working throughout the night. That’s the best time to come up with new and interesting material.
BARR: What mood were you trying to create with the score?
S-TYPE: Each had its own challenges and asked for different tone and emotion. Ninety percent of all recorded music tries to say one thing: “I’m cool.” Why I keep coming to scoring work is because, while I work in hip-hop primarily, I like making music to evoke a particular emotion. One of the films asked for something light, orchestral, and comic. That meant throwing away a lot of my natural palette, but I like the challenge.
BARR: How much do you take into account visuals and De Jong’s cinematography when composing the score?
S-TYPE: The visuals guided the way I wrote the music—the color palettes and movements in each film led me to sounds and programmed rhythms and melodies to fit the moods.
BARR: When you’re creating a score, do you listen to music for inspiration at all or is that distracting?
S-TYPE: Not really. It’s all just in me. Soundtracks and OSTs are kind of my thing. My friends even give me shit for being so into them, but for as long as I can remember I’ve reached for those sort of sounds and the dynamics of score music. So now it’s just sort of in me.
BARR: Did you look to anything specific for inspiration for this score? Were there other soundtracks you were inspired by?
S-TYPE: I’ve always been a huge fan of movie soundtracks. I love Danny Elfman, also Vangelis, John Carpenter, obviously John Williams. With “A Mirror To The Heart,” I was asked to do something quite quirky and stripped back—I thought about movies I watched as a kid, like Home Alone and ET. I wanted to do something purely orchestral for that. In “A Sense Of Self,” the music changes every time the character morphs, so we looked at different styles of beats that would work in line with the character’s mood and outfit changes. And choirs, strings, and brass feature throughout.