You know what the best job in the world has got to be? Music Supervisor. Especially for a hip TV show where the main characters love indie rock.
So I just spent 15 minutes on the phone Alexandra Patsavas, the music supervisor for “The OC.” Warner Brothers is releasing the fourth volume in its series of Music from the OC Mixes (review), and Patsavas is making the rounds talking to dorks like me so people will go out and buy the new release. She seems like a very nice person who really does love great music as much as you and I do. No surprise there, I guess, because the music choices on the show are stellar.
So you’re probably wondering how someone ends up becoming a music supervisor? I was too. So I asked her.
Patsavas: I’m from Chicago, and I started out booking clubs in Champaign during college. I eventually moved out here and got a job working for Roger Corman. [Editorial note: some of this is paraphrased due to the lack of a telephone recorder – Ed.]
GLONO: It’s obvious that music plays a huge part on the show.
Patsavas: Definitely. Music is a character on the show.
GLONO: How’d that come about?
Patsavas: Josh Schwartz is totally into indie music. And from the very beginning, there was always a big focus on the music, and on indie rock in particular.
GLONO: Have you ever had any pressure from FOX to put certain songs in episodes that maybe they own or whatever?
Patsavas: None whatsoever. There’s really been no pressure at all.
GLONO: Anyone ever offer you money to get a song on the show?
Patsavas: No, never.
Patsavas: No, they never have. Really.
GLONO: How do bands get their songs on the show?
Patsavas: We get sent around 400 to 500 cds a week.
GLONO: What are the last cds that you actually went out and bought and paid for?
Patsavas: Let me think. I just bought the Dears. Oh, and Death Cab. They’re going to be on camera in an upcoming episode…
GLONO: At the Peach Pit?
Patsavas: The Bait Shop. But I realized I didn’t have all their cds, so I went out and picked up the rest of their releases.
GLONO: Any other exciting music coming up in future episodes?
Patsavas: We’re going to have Bloc Party. And Spoon! We’re going to have the new Spoon.
GLONO: That’s cool. I just heard a thing about how “WKRP in Cincinnati” will probably never come out on DVD because they don’t have the rights to use the music anymore. That’s not going to happen to “The O.C,” is it?
Patsavas: Ha ha. No, they clear for all TV and video. The industry changed a lot with DVDs.
GLONO: Back to the OC Mixes. How come there’s only, like, 12 songs on them? There’s obviously plenty of room for more?
Patsavas: I honestly have no idea. But Warner Brothers Records has been very good to us. Sorry I don’t really know about that, but I can talk all day long about how great the new Aqueduct album is.
GLONO: What’s the deal with that Boys II Men song in that one episode? That was hilarious. And awesome.
Patsavas: That was all Josh. That’s him being inspired, and writing to the scene.
GLONO: Ha. But it really is amazing how much good music you fit into the show. Ever have any licensing problems with a song you really wanted to use?
Patsavas: That’s actually one of the things I’m proudest of: bands who never license for TV who we’ve got. Like Bright Eyes, Beck, the Beastie Boys…
GLONO: I think you expose a lot of great music to a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise hear it. You’re not going to hear it on the radio or on MTV.
Patsavas: I hope we’re playing that role. The whole team is extraordinarily involved in the music.
GLONO: I’m surprised how well music fits the scene. Although I’m not sure if I believe that Caleb would be playing Kings of Convenience at his cocktail party…
Patsavas: He might! But really, we choose the songs that fit the emotion of the scene.
GLONO: Oh yeah, I know. Hey, one final question.
Patsavas: Uh oh.
GLONO: Any chance you can kill off Marissa?
Patsavas: I love Marissa.
GLONO: She’s got to die.
Patsavas: No way, I love Marissa. I do.
So there you have it. The person with the best job in the world. After the interview I discovered that she also supervises the music for “Carnivale” on HBO. I love that old-time crazy shit. What a wild record party you could have at her house! Mixing it up between Death Cab and Cab Calloway. Fade from Sufjan Stevens to the Carter Family.
Be sure to catch up on all of the previous Glorious Noise OC coverage.
We throw around the term “indie” quite a bit these days, pretty much forgetting the etymology of the word. It was originally an abbreviation for “independent” referring to bands that were not signed to any of the major record labels. Well, it’s pretty much lost that original connotation since many of the bands that now play “indie rock” are signed to major labels. As someone who still believes in supporting truly independent music, I think it’s important to point this out.
So here’s a fun little game. We’ll list the tracklists of all four OC Mixes, and you write in and argue about which of these bands are actually on independent labels. For the purposes of this exercise, let’s define an independent label as one that is not more than 50%-owned by one of the Big Four major labels: Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, EMI Group, and Warner Brothers Music.
We’ll even help you out by showing the label for the songs on the first OC Mix. Good luck!
1. Paint The Silence – South (Kinetic Records)
2. Just A Ride – Jem (Ato Records)
3. Honey And The Moon – Joseph Arthur (Universal)
4. The Way We Get By – Spoon (Merge Records)
5. Move On – Jet (Elektra)
6. How Good It Can Be – The 88 (Mootron Records)
7. Caught By The River – Doves (Capitol)
8. Rain City – Turin Brakes (Astralwerks)
9. We Used To Be Friends – The Dandy Warhols (Capitol)
10. Dice – Finley Quaye & William Orbit (Sony)
11. Orange Sky – Alexi Murdoch (Mind Blue Music)
12. California – Phantom Planet (Sony)
1. Saturday Morning – Eels
2. Hello Sunshine – Super Furry Animals
3. Smile Like You Mean It – The Killers
4. A Lack of Color – Death Cab for Cutie
5. Specialist – Interpol
6. Something Pretty – Patrick Park
7. You Got Me All Wrong – Dios Malos
8. If You Leave – Nada Surf
9. Big Sur – The Thrills
10. Little House of Savages – The Walkmen
11. Trouble Sleeping – The Perishers
12. So Sweet – Jonathan Rice
13. Popular Mechanics for Lovers – Beulah
14. Walnut Tree – Keane
15. Maybe I’m Amazed – Jem
16. Eastern Glow – The Album Leaf
1. The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
2. Last Christmas – Jimmy Eat World
3. Just Like Christmas – Low
4. Merry Xmas Everybody – Rooney
5. Rock of Ages – Ben Kweller
6. Christmas With You is the Best – The Long Winters
7. Christmas is Going to the Dogs – Eels
8. Christmas – Leona Naess
9. Maybe This Christmas – Ron Sexsmith
1. Decent Days And Nights – The Futureheads
2. Goodnight And Go – Imogen Heap
3. Fortress – Pinback
4. On The Table – A.C. Newman
5. To Be Alone With You – Sufjan Stevens
6. Play – Flunk
7. Scarecrow – Beck
8. The View – Modest Mouse
9. Hardcore Days & Softcore Nights – Aqueduct
10. Cartwheels – The Reindeer Section
11. Eve, The Apple Of My Eye – Bell X1
12. Champagne Supernova – Matt Pond PA
One more hint: use the always handy RIAA Radar site!