The man behind The Hunger Games Soundtrack, Greg Wells, takes us into the development process used to create the music behind the blockbuster. Greg talks with PopMatters about collaborating with T. Bone Burnett, his favorite song on the album and more! Take a look!
As for the The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond, “It was T-Bone’s idea to bring in another producer that was more in line with Top 40 radio, which sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not,” Wells says. “But I made it to the top of his list of who he should talk to.” The first task Burnett gave Wells was creating a version of the Taylor Swift/Civil Wars song, “Safe and Sound”, that would be different than the version on the soundtrack, and more appropriate for Top 40 radio.
Wells explains, “[Burnett] said, ‘I’m not going to come watch you work, I’m not going to sit over your shoulder. I think you should just take these vocals and take this main acoustic guitar track, and just do what feels right to you. When you feel like the cake is baked, or baked enough, I’ll come by your studio and give it a listen.’
“So that’s exactly what I did, I just followed my nose. And that’s pretty much what I do with whoever I’m working with. I try not to overthink things, I just sort of lead with my gut feeling. There were some rhythm elements in his original version that I really liked that sneak in toward the end, kind of a rolling, marching snare drum thing, and I thought ‘Maybe we can start the song with something like that.’ It was important to me to have the same kind of intention and feeling that his version did. I didn’t want it to sound like apples and oranges. I just wanted to give it a bit more momentum. Then they came by and really liked it, and everyone, including Taylor, encouraged me to take it even further, and up the energy even more. And I’m quite proud with how it turned out.”
However, the real gem of the soundtrack is the Kid Cudi song, “The Ruler and the Killer”, which Wells co-wrote with Cudi and Burnett. The track has been universally hailed as the highlight of the album, and Wells knew it was special the moment the song was born.
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