May 30, 2002
New Sound for Old Movies
DJ Thomas Golubic reinterprets classic films by adding a modern score
By LESLEE KOMAIKO, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
One of L.A.'s freshest nightlife events--a mix of classic films and progressive tunes served up by DJ Thomas Golubic--was born of questionable manners and small revenge. Thank goodness for bad behavior.
Several months ago, Golubic, one half of the music supervision team for HBO's "Six Feet Under," was enjoying a quiet night at home when three friends dropped by. Not only were they uninvited, Golubic recalls, "they were not in their right minds." He didn't want his unexpected guests driving, however, so he plopped them down in front of the TV. Darren Aronofsky's dark 2000 film, "Requiem for a Dream," a favorite of his, was just beginning.
"I thought I should turn the sound down and put some music on to freak them out," Golubic says. He ended up DJ-ing through the final credits, basically rescoring the film while his friends watched and listened. "The next day one of my friends called and said, 'Dude, that was amazing.' So I thought let me try this thing and see if there's any validity," he says. The result is Synchronize, a free monthly--sometimes bimonthly--event in the plush, spacious lounge at West Hollywood's Moomba. Unlike Golubic's impromptu effort at home, these are musically scripted affairs; he spends hours masterminding in advance. "Most of the creativity is in how I move from one track to another," he says. The other difference is that in the club he layers the dialogue over the music.
Synchronize debuted quietly in March with, appropriately enough, "Requiem for a Dream." Then came "Blade Runner." Earlier this month, Golubic rescored Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." About 100 people, most in their late 20s and early 30s and mainly musicians, industry people, FOTs (friends of Thomas), or some combination thereof, showed up.
"It's a wonderful change of pace from the multiplexes," said Amy Rosen, a music supervisor who attended the screening with a group of friends. "I hate the prices, the lines, the noise like crying kids. This is closer in spirit to when our parents went to the movies, like an event."
But this is not an ultra-hush Writers Guild-style screening environment. The lights are dimmed but not dark. Candles flicker on the tables. There's the occasional shake, shake, shake of ice on metal from the bar as well as the chatter and laughter of friends and couples who consider the film more atmosphere than focal point. People wander out to the parking lot for a smoke. But the majority of the audience sits quietly transfixed, sometimes grooving in their seats to the music, sipping martinis, cosmos, or red wine.
"It's an interesting take, especially for things you've already seen, because it puts a new perspective on it musically," said Kyle Schember, who was there with his Rockstar bandmate Ryan Stuit. "And honestly," Stuit said, "where can you order a New York strip and watch a movie at the same time?"
Many of the artists featured in the Synchronize rescores can also be heard on Golubic's weekly late-night radio show, "Swing Shift," on KCRW-FM (89.9). "2001," for example, included tracks from Groove Armada, David Sylvian and Holger Czukay, Brian Eno, Radiohead, Rinocerose, Sigur Ros, Royksopp and DJ Spooky. "I try to avoid music with lyrics because I really don't want the lyrics to distract you," Golubic says. "And I try not to use music that was available at the time the movie was made."
Among the "2001" audience members who made it to the end of the often contemplative, nearly 21/2-hour film was Vickie Curea, a psychotherapist who'd seen it several times before. "I was totally surprised and pleasantly so," she said. "I thought the way he interpreted many of the scenes in the film, he heightened the sense of fun and absurdity." She also appreciated the comfy couch she and her friend scored by arriving early. "I think that anybody that's a fan of movies and eclectic music would groove on something like this. I don't know if it would hit in Fargo, but it would in Chicago."
Tonight, Synchronize will feature "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory." Akira Kurosawa's "Ran" is slated for next month with accompaniment from electronic composer George Sarah and a live string trio. Among the films Golubic is considering for later in the summer are "Barbarella," "Mad Max" and Jacques Tati's "Playtime." He wants to do Wim Wender's "Wings of Desire" down the line and the Hong Kong action flick "The Heroic Trio."
"I choose films that have a very distinctive visual storytelling approach," Golubic says, "films that are not dialogue- or narrative- based." He also gravitates to films that have good music to begin with. After all, where's the challenge in reinterpreting a mess?
Synchronize, tonight, 9 p.m., at Moomba, 665 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood. Also June 20, July 25 and Aug. 22. (310) 652-6364.
Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times
After many years of producing desperately romantic and unsolicited mix tapes for a host of bewildered young women, Thomas has recently parlayed that otherwise fruitless ability into a career as a radio and club DJ and as a music supervisor for film and television.
Thomas first cut his teeth at eclectically-minded Los Angeles radio station KCRW (89.9 FM), where since 1998 he hosts and programs "The Swing Shift", an ambitious late-night radio show exploring the outer limits of new hip hop, funk, soul and jazz. He also programs the electronic music backdrop for revered Los Angeles spoken word artist Joe Frank and his KCRW radio program "The Other Side".
Following in the footsteps of fellow KCRW DJs turned music supervisors Chris Douridas and Gary Calamar, Thomas began working with veteran music supervisor G. Marq Roswell. This film & music boot-camp experience yielded contributions as music coordinator on the rock-heavy "Varsity Blues" (with a soundtrack certified Gold), the soul and r&b sound to the Denzel Washington film "The Hurricane", and the contemporary pop and country of the Kevin Costner film "For Love of the Game", among others.
Striking out on his own, Thomas music supervised "Shadow Hours", collaborating with composer Brian Tyler to create a highly modern dark electronic soundscape deeply blurring the lines between score and source music. The film came and went with little fanfare, but the film soundtrack garnered quite a bit of attention for both Thomas and Brian and the innovative approach and compelling music has subsequently been used to temp a number of new films.
Seeing a strong collaboration potential with old mentor and friend Gary Calamar, the two formed SuperMusicVision as a partnership in early 2000. The duo worked together on a PBS documentary and an independent feature prior to landing the coveted job of music supervisors on the celebrated HBO drama "Six Feet Under". The show, created by Academy-Award winning "American Beauty" scribe Alan Ball, has become an enormous ratings success, comparable to the HBO hits "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos". The show garnered almost universal praise in the press and has now been nominated for the Golden Globe "Best Drama", "Best Actor" and "Best Supporting Actress" awards.
The show turned out to be the pair's most creatively rewarding project, allowing them to bring the full breadth of their eclectic music tastes and knowledge into the texture of the challenging and ambitious show. A soundtrack deal was brokered with Universal Records, and remixes of Thomas Newman's haunting title theme have been commissioned with some of the most exciting new artists in hip hop and electronic music. The "Six Feet Under" soundtrack album will be in stores in March 2002 to coincide with the start of the second season.
Thomas has held DJ residencies at several Hollywood clubs, including the Knitting Factory, The Oxygen Bar, Café Luna Sol and Café Des Artistes. He presently spins at various special events around town and hosts SYNCHRONIZE, a live DJ re-scoring of feature films like "2001: A Space Odyssey", old Hong Kong action pictures and even Bollywood musicals. He is also a contributing feature music writer and reviewer for Lotus Magazine. Thomas lives in a rooftop apartment in the Hollywood Hills where, on occasion, he catches a few hours of sleep.
Tomica is from my own experience, very proud of his Croatian heritage. He iswarm, passionate, extremely intelligent and very talented man. His understandingof music was very impressive and I wonder, when I met him, why somebody likethat kind of sensibility doesn't have an opportunity to impact a boring scene ofmusic in Hollywood. And here we go, as we announced earlier on CROWN, Tomica ismusic supervisor for one of the most authentic show on TV today "Six Feet Under".Working with Alan Ball, the best filmmaker on a horizon. Besides his talentsTomica is genuine with people and animals (his two beautiful cats).