Alexandra Patsavas pairs sight and sound as Hollywood’s most in-demand music supervisor.
You know that song that’s been buzzing in your head? The one that played in the background of the climactic scene on your favorite TV show? The one you sprinted to your computer to download? Alexandra Patsavas might be responsible for it. As one of the top music supervisors in Hollywood, her job is to work with the creatives behind TV series and feature films to select just the right song for just the right scene. The Chicago-area native got started booking bands for shows as a student at the University of Illinois before following her passion to Los Angeles. Since then, the sought-after tastemaker and head of both Chop Shop Music Supervision and Chop Shop Records has worked on blockbuster films such as the Twilight installments and trendsetting shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl, Mad Men and The O.C. Patsavas chatted with American Way to discuss how she’s managed to hit so many killer notes.
We asked sonic guru
Alexandra Patsavas to tell
us what’s playing on her
iPod these days.
M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Oh Land Oh Land
Gotye Making Mirrors
Bon Iver Bon Iver
Other Lives Tamer Animals
St. Vincent Strange Mercy
: What influenced you to get into this line of work?
: To be completely frank, I wasn’t aware that this line of work existed until I got a little bit into my career. I was always fascinated by the marriage of music and picture, and I certainly paid attention to soundtracks as a kid.
: Can you name some artists who might be considered Alexandra Patsavas discoveries?
: On the TV show Roswell, which was my first show, I used music by Coldplay, Radiohead and Dido. I didn’t discover them, but I was able to highlight their music, and they reached an audience that perhaps they wouldn’t have reached. Later, on The O.C., we actually had Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse perform on the show.
: Describe the process for choosing a song for a television show or a film.
: It’s never strictly up to me. The music supervisor is hired, like any other creative person. I sit down and ask the executive producer of the show or the movie director, “What do you want the music to accomplish?” We start at the script stage, and when the footage is edited and assembled, that’s when the real work starts.
: How much time do you spend in a typical week seeking out new talent?
: Quite a bit. I have been supervising since ’95. I get a lot of submissions so I don’t have to go any farther than my own overflowing mailbox.
: What are your favorite movie soundtracks?
: The Third Man — talk about music being a character. The Graduate, featuring Simon & Garfunkel — beautiful, and the perfect use of songs. And The Breakfast Club.
: Do you have a personal holy grail — a piece of music you’d love to use in a film or TV show that you haven’t yet licensed?
: Yes. I think more than anything, “The Needle and the Damage Done” by Neil Young.
: How does an aspiring band or artist bring his or her music to your attention?
: I’m pretty easy to find these days. The Internet has changed how people reach people. An artist can contact me via the company website, and we have a submission process.
: How do you feel about the fact that, in years past, fans would discover music first on the radio, but now often they’re exposed to music first on TV and in movies?
: There’s no better compliment to a music supervisor than to have had a fan take away interest in a band or a song or an artist because it is connected to their favorite show or movie.