Every movie fan knows the importance that music brings to a film. What would The Wizard of Oz be without Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”? Would you still be on the edge of your seat without those two celebrated notes in Jaws? Would you still feel transported to a galaxy far, far, away without Star Wars’ legendary score? Would children around the world demand to dress as Elsa for Halloween every year if not for the now iconic “Let It Go”? The music in a film tells the story and is as beloved as many of your favorite characters, and Britain’s Alexander Rudd knows this well.
Rudd is a multi-award-winning composer, conductor, songwriter, and producer, but more importantly, he has an unparalleled passion for what he does. He was initially trained as a classical composer and while studying in London, began his music career as a jazz pianist and singer. He was always interested in working across different musical genres and wanted to find a way to do that. Composing was the answer, and now he has composed music for movies, TV, theatre, and video games, as well as writing and producing pop music.
“I’ve worked really hard and been very fortunate and now I have found a way to do what I love as my career. This past year I have composed and conducted music for film and television, I have also collaborated with Alex James from the rock band Blur on a classical/rock crossover, which resulted in conducting the Alex James Orchestra in front of 20,000 people at The Big Feastival with dancers from the Royal Opera House Ballet, all in between writing and producing pop songs,” says Rudd.
Rudd has many success stories decorating his resume, from his celebrated work on the film Muse, where he took home four awards at prestigious international film festivals, such as the “Texas Renegade” Best Soundtrack/Score Award at the Austin Revolution Film Festival, Best Original Score at the Horrorhaus Film Festival, Best Score at the Sin City Horror Fest 2017, and Best Choons (music) at The Toscars. His work on the film was also nominated for Best Score at FilmQuest 2017. On top of this, his original song “The Spotlight Calls” in the cult horror film The Gallows Act II, Rudd has had a career many can only dream of. The highlight of his career, however, came when he contributed to the Golden Globe nominated film Stan and Ollie.
Stan and Ollie tells the true story of Hollywood’s greatest comedy double act, Laurel and Hardy. Starring Oscar nominees Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as the inimitable movie icons, Stan and Ollie is the heart-warming story of what would become the pair’s triumphant farewell tour. With their golden era long behind them, the pair embark on a variety hall tour of Britain and Ireland. Despite the pressures of a hectic schedule, and with the support of their wives Lucille (Shirley Henderson) and Ida (Nina Arianda) – a formidable double act in their own right – the pair’s love of performing, as well as for each other, endures as they secure their place in the hearts of their adoring public. John C. Reilly, known for his long and impressive career in Hollywood as both a comedic and dramatic actor (nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his outstanding performance in the 2003 hit Chicago) received a nomination for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy at the 2019 Golden Globes for his portrayal of Oliver Hardy in Stan & Ollie.
“It’s important to remember the work of Laurel and Hardy, especially since they have influenced so many of today’s comedians and actors. I believe because the movie received so much critical success that it’s enticed a whole new generation into discovering their magical films,” says Rudd.
Rudd’s song “Glad I Waited” was synced on the movie. The song was from his album “Stay Away From Stars” which he produced and co wrote with songwriter Don Black. Rudd was eager to work with Black, always being a massive fan of his work, particularly the song “Born Free” which he wrote with John Barry, and “Ben” which he wrote for Michael Jackson.
“What a joy it is to write songs with Alex. His melodies are fresh, original and they never leave you. He is a major talent who is equally at home writing for Lady Gaga or for Tony Bennett. I can’t wait to get around a piano with him again,” said Don Black OBE, Academy Award-Winning Lyricist.
Rudd and Black quickly discovered a shared passion of the great American songs of Rogers and Hart, Cole Porter and Bacharach/David and therefore decided to make an album of songs that was a bit of a homage to their heroes. They decided to record the songs at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios as they wanted to capture the same sound of other classic records that had been made there. They worked with some of the world’s finest musicians, including the English Session Orchestra led by singers, Mica Paris, Polly Gibbons and Mairead Carlin. Because they had so many musicians, they had to send a video link of Rudd conducting from one studio to another to simultaneously record in both studios.
“Growing up in Preston, England, and being a massive fan of the Beatles, it was a dream come true to record in Studio 2, the home of so many Beatles songs,” says Rudd.
Rudd has a number of beloved songs on his album, but “Glad I Waited” is his favorite. Performed by Polly Gibbons, the song is laid back and restrained, with her rich tone and unique voice bringing listeners back to that 1950’s London style sound. This was exactly what the filmmakers of Stan and Ollie were looking for, as that is where the film takes place. Rudd then provided separate audio stems for the song, which meant that the track could be manipulated in the film and not get in the way of the dialogue.
Stan and Ollie is a critically acclaimed film, with an impressive 90% score on Rotten Tomatoes, a series of awards and nominations, and was a success at the box office far surpassing its USD$10 million budget. Rudd’s song allows audiences to feel truly transported from their theatre seats to a different time, and aids in telling the beautiful story portrayed in the movie.
“It feels great that “Glad I Waited” was featured in Stan and Ollie as the project was such a labor of love. The album was the first large scale album where I not only wrote all the songs but I also produced the album and conducted the orchestra. It was incredibly validating to have the song featured in the movie and hear it one day on BBC Radio 2. It felt like such a defining moment in my career, it reminded me that I’m here, I’m in the right place, I’m doing good work and I’m going to keep going,” he concludes.
Check out the making of “Stay Away From the Stars” here.
Photo left to right:Don Black and Alexander Rudd