Interview with ‘One Tree Hill’ Music Supervisor Lindsay Wolfington

(This interview was originally done on March 28th, 2012. I was feeling nostalgic and decided to post it again)

One of the very best parts of One Tree Hill has always been the music. The songs are such a huge part of the show to the point they are almost a character all in their own. The OTH playlist on my iPod is nearly 200 songs deep and I haven’t even skimmed the surface of all of the show’s amazing tunes. One Tree Hill’s Music Supervisor, Lindsay Wolfington (@lonewolflindsay on Twitter) gets all of the credit for that as week after week she delivers the musical goods for our favorite show. And because she is just that awesome, Lindsay was sweet enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions.

I’m dying to know: what is your process? How do you find all of the great music that ends up on the show? Do the songs find you or do you find the songs?

When I get the script, I read it and mark scenes where I think a song will go – sometimes it’s obvious because we are in a bar, other times it’s an emotional moment that I think we’ll want to score with a song. Then I break down all the scenes in a spreadsheet, divvy up where we will spend our money (because we can’t use big artists in every spot, hence our search for great indie artists!), and then put my headphones on. I go through new albums I’ve received from major labels, publishers and companies who represent indie artists. And then I also browse through folders I have been filtering music into. I have folders in my iTunes for mellow music, for dramatic “what’s going to happen” moments, and then upbeat and quirky songs. I send my suggestions (2-3 songs per spot, usually 3-4 for the coda) to the editor cutting that episode and they temp them in. Then as the episodes become polished, we revise music accordingly. Sometimes the scene reads completely different in the script than it does on-camera, so I just put on my headphones again and find better choices!

The latest album from Florence + The Machine is (in my opinion) one of the best albums ever recorded and you have been able to feature three of its tracks in Season 9. Was there something specific that compelled you to want this music?

Not particularly. I am a Florence fan, and I was disappointed that we weren’t able to use songs from her last album in the show. But that was simply a matter of the tone of the episodes at the time. What I have loved about Season 9 is that it has been so dramatic and tense. Therefore, we get to use more dramatic and tense music. Florence’s sound is so big; the picture needs to be just as big to match it. Other Lives is another one of those bands that is so fun to use in darker, intense episodes because that is their sound.

We only have 2 new episodes of One Tree Hill left EVER! Is there a musical moment coming up that you think we will all be crazy about for years to come?

You sent me this interview before episode 911, so I might’ve said Coldplay “Us Against the World.” But I have to say, the fan feedback to that one has been bigger than I expected! The opening and closing song of the series finale are great moments. The last one simply because it is the last coda – it doesn’t disappoint. And the first song is special for more subtle reasons. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that one night when we were working on the finale, I blasted the opening song on repeat in my car and cried all the way home. The melody is beautiful and the lyrics, I think, summed up what the show has been about from the start. Believe in yourself, listen for your calling and go for it. Some days it feels like I was meant to work on One Tree Hill, and I’m so appreciative for having had the chance to work on it, to gain Mark and Joe’s trust, and to highlight some great music. It’s been an honor.

One Tree Hill has introduced me to so many great bands that I would never have found otherwise. Blind Pilot and  Wakey!Wakey! are the first to come to mind. But the show has also featured classics from Boston and The Cure. How do you manage that balance?

Well, Boston was Mark’s pick. He loved that song and had always wanted to use it. I would say it was usually his direction that led us to use some of the older songs. But Peyton had a vinyl collection, and when the show started in 2003, most albums on vinyl were older. That was the inspiration for using some classics like Cheap Trick (who eventually performed on the show) and The Replacements (who are one of Mark’s favorite bands ever). Same with the Cure – I had loved the Cure since I was young, as did Mark, and it had that classic, moody sound that was very Peyton. So that’s why it worked for us in a couple different moments where we needed an older song that meant something to her character and to Schwahn. On the other side of things, we thrive on using new music and using bands before they get signed or blow up. Sometimes it is a matter of budget, but in general, it is so much fun to discover new music and since we have a young cast and a young audience, new artists make sense and work really well on the show. My favorite part of the job is getting really excited about a new song or band I’ve heard and being able to showcase it on the show a few weeks later.

OTH has been blessed with an extremely talented cast, musically (Kate Voegele, Bethany Joy Galeotti, Tyler Hilton & Jana Kramer just to name a few). Has that fact made your job easier or more challenging?

Probably easier. I was involved with the casting of Kate and Tyler, which was very cool. And it was fun finding songs for Joy to sing in the beginning and then bringing her music to the forefront in later seasons. And then Jana’s singing on the show came after they cast her, so it was just a good fit.

Is there a particular scene above all others that you have LOVED choosing music for?

I get really excited about dramatic or emotional scenes. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in other interviews, but I was really excited to find “Maybe Tomorrow” by Stereophonics for the first time Lucas and Peyton made out in Season 1. Oh, and The Veils “Nux Vomica” when Brooke and Peyton overcame psycho Derek. That was really cool because when I heard it, I hadn’t seen the scene and I thought – this is either going to be awful or perfect. And I think it was the latter! Other honorable mentions would be the uses of The Veils “Lavinia,” Keane “She Has No Time,” The Weepies “The World Spins Madly On” and Civil Twilight “Quiet in My Town.” There are too many to pick just one!

Has there been a moment where choosing music has been very difficult?

Yes, sometimes it’s hard to find a song to play a sequence that has several different emotions. And sometimes we like to do that! Also, it’s harder to play comedy with a song, which we did a lot of in Season 8.

Because this is all music related, I have to ask: favorite song of all time?

All time? That’s tough. Here are a few: The Sundays “When I’m Thinking About You” (always calms me); 10,000 Maniacs “What’s the Matter Here?” (very powerful subject matter); and U2 “All I Want is You” (it kills me how good this song is, and the way it was used in Reality Bites is part of what inspired me to be a music supervisor!). And for a good dance party? “Dancing with Myself” Billy Idol and “Tubthumping” Chumbawumba. Yes, it should be embarrassing that I just mentioned Chumbawumba, but that song is so much fun to dance to!

What is the one artist you have never seen live but would love to?

The Sundays. They are my favorite band and I think they broke up before I could ever see them. And 10,000 Maniacs. Same story.

Lastly, is there a TV show, other than OTH, that you feel is done very well musically?

I don’t watch a lot of scripted TV shows, actually. But I have a ton of respect for my Music Supervisor peers, so I know there are plenty of shows that have great music!

HUGE thanks to Lindsay for participating! Can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in the last two episodes of One Tree Hill!

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Filed under Interviews, Music, Television

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