Interview: John Frizzell on ‘Stay Alive’ soundtrack

With a filmography that is diverse, broad and hardly consistent, it is no surprise that composer John Frizzell agreed to take on a project like “Stay Alive.”

After having recently composed for “The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio,” which he worked on with bluegrass phenoms Nickel Creek, the Neil Simon comedy “The Goodbye Girl,” the Civil War drama “Gods and Generals” and everybody’s favorite disgruntled workplace cult classic, “Office Space,” Frizzell feels fortune to be able to compose in “scary movie mode.” “I feel very fortunate to be able to work on a broad range of films. [A film like “Stay Alive”] is a challenge just because of the amount of music that you’re writing.”

Stay Alive - The movie poster

Stay Alive – The movie poster

“Stay Alive” is a grisly teen horror flick that tells the story of a group of friends who come upon a new video game aptly titled Stay Alive. The movie, which is based on the story of a 17th century noblewoman named “The Blood Countess,” picks off each gamer one by one in the same way their characters were murdered on-screen.

The score for “Stay Alive,” which clocks in at over sixty minutes, takes advantage of Frizzell’s passion at staying on the cutting edge of technology by relying on LogicPro to chop and manipulate the live orchestral music to make the sound as intense as possible. While Frizzell appreciates working with the “pure, organic sound” that accompanies working with a traditional orchestra, he has been involved with using music software since the early 80’s when the Synclavier was the most advanced digital music workstation of its time. “I like to stay on the cutting edge [of technology],” he said.

Based on Frizzell’s ability to remain avant-garde, he has been able to avoid pigeonholing himself in one movie genre. “I enjoy doing new things and finding a broad range [of projects]. The adventure is finding yourself within [each film]. I think I would get bored otherwise.”

Frizzell’s career was launched at an early age when he was ten-years-old and a member of the National Cathedral Choir; he went on to the University of Southern California to obtain his undergraduate degree and later to the Manhattan School of Music. One of Frizzell’s first colleagues upon collegiate graduation was Roger Birnbaum, who also helped produced “Stay Alive.” Birnbaum’s role in the film’s production, along with producer McG, were “big incentives” for Frizzell to accept the project. “To create this sort of score, you need two sounds: the game [within the movie] as a score and the score for the rest of the movie. It becomes scary when the game starts to blend into the real world.”

Frizzell has also recently wrapped composition on the psychological thriller “First Born,” which is slated for release in the fall of 2006.

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