The Music of 'Maron': Roots, Blues and L.A. Bands (Q&A)
Fans of podcast personality Marc Maron’s IFC sitcom, Maron, have probably on more than one occasion caught themselves tapping their feet or nodding their heads along to the show’s blues, soul and surf-heavy soundtrack.
As Maron meanders his way through personal issues in the brutally dark comedy series on screen, handling all musical matters behind the scenes is the boutique Los Angeles-based composition and music supervision house Black Iris. With its record label entity called White Iris -- which has released early 7-inch records by notable indie acts Best Coast, FIDLAR, Fool’s Gold, Electric Guest and others -- company president and co-founder Daron Hollowell says it seemed like a tailor-made fit.
Directing the show’s original score, music supervision and soundtrack (which was released June 18 on White Iris), Hollowell says his company’s work on Maron was essentially a longtime plan coming to fruition. Better yet, working with the alt-hero brought with it instant credibility when putting the soundtrack together. “Marc just has a ton of fans; all of the bands that are on this soundtrack are fans of his personally,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “People are just excited to be a part of what he’s doing right now.”
Looking ahead to Maron’s season finale this Friday, June 28, THR spoke with Hollowell about building a show’s sound from the ground up, his business’ Swiss-army-knife-setup and how it all came to be.
The Hollywood Reporter: Black Iris has a multitiered approach -- music composition, music supervision and label releases. How was that model born, and how has it been working?
Daron Hollowell: Black Iris was born out of the fact that we were all musicians just trying to make a living. We realized that there was this opportunity to write original music in advertising and film -- we saw a lot of unknown indie bands being placed there and knew that there was a desire to have something authentic in that world. Coming from the background of playing in bands, that was natural for us, and we figured if we applied our skills directly to that world, it might offer us a way to continue being able to make music.
That was the plan originally, and it still holds true for us. We're really just a collective of independent musicians from different backgrounds that have come together in this world. And we’re really proud that we’ve been able to offer this alternative income stream to musicians that are still out there making real music. That’s sort of the business model at its core and something that we continue to try to promote.
THR: How did your relationship with Maron come about?
Hollowell: We started working with music supervisor Anthony Roman about a year ago, and he had a previous relationship with [Maron production company] Apostle, which is Denis Leary’s production company. So he was talking to them about Maron, and they were looking for someone to music supervise but also to write the score. We got lucky enough to do both. We ended up working on the original score with Anthony Rizzo, a friend of ours from Brooklyn, who helped with writing the original music,. And a bunch of the bands on our label just sort of ended up getting placed on various episodes of the show. ... We thought about doing the soundtrack and pitched that to Apostle, Fox and IFC. Marc was super supportive and we got everybody behind the idea.
THR: How would you describe the sound of the show?
Hollowell: It’s definitely a roots-y, blues-y sound. I think that speaks to Marc and the stuff he likes, like The Blasters and old Fleetwood Mac. It just fits his vibe. He’s a big record collector, so we knew what his taste level was from listening to his podcast and the guests that he’s had on.
THR: Having your hands in all these different aspects of music in the show, is it something that White Iris had strived to do or was it more of a happy accident?
Hollowell: It’s definitely an intentional thing. We’ve done the original composition side for a while. On the Black Iris side, we do a lot of work in advertising, but we’ve been wanting to branch out into more TV and film. And then obviously having the label, looking at a lot at the up-and-coming bands and seeing those bands placed on TV shows or in films or TV commercials has always been a big focus for the label. So it felt like a natural crossover for us.
THR: A lot of the bands on the soundtrack are Los Angeles-based, and the city plays a prominent role in the show. Was it an intentional effort to place local bands on the soundtrack?
Hollowell: We were absolutely thinking about that and put a lot of L.A. bands forward on purpose, but there’s some New York stuff in there too. There’s Sharon Jones, Hospitality, and a few Brooklyn bands.
THR: Are there conversations with Marc Maron or the executives before you start composing? Or do you draw inspiration from footage already shot?
Hollowell: We definitely read the scripts to see what's going on action-wise. And Apostle has a lot to say about what they feel would fit aesthetically. But everyone seemed to be on the same page from the start, so it wasn’t like we had to do a lot of convincing to come up with the sound for the show. It felt like Marc, Apostle, IFC, Fox -- everyone was of the same mind. It didn't feel forced at all.
THR: As far as the release of the soundtrack, what are your expectations, financially or otherwise?
Hollowell: It’s on vinyl and that’s something that we felt absolutely had to happen, with Marc being such a vinyl-head. We feel the same way at the label; everything we do is only digital and vinyl. We don’t do CDs or anything else. Honestly, just the fact that the soundtrack exists for this first season of Maron makes it a success for us. It's all we really hoped to accomplish.