Sometimes when inspiration strikes, you just gotta write it down — or in Aska Matsumiya’s case, record it. The composer was on the phone with director Julia Hart discussing the possibility of her scoring “I’m Your Woman” when a melody just popped into her head.
“I heard a melody and I actually paused to record a voice memo of the melody while I was speaking to Julia because I just felt so synchronized with her and the ideas that she had and what she was seeing,” Matsumiya tells Gold Derby during our Meet the Experts: Film Composers panel (watch above). “I was like, ‘Let me get the voice memo!’ And I recorded it on my phone and then I put it together and then I shared it with Julia and then I got the job.”
The piano-based melody wound up becoming the main theme of the Amazon drama, which stars Rachel Brosnahan, who’s also a producer, as Jean, a 1970s housewife and new mom who must go on the run after her criminal husband betrays his cohorts. As the story progresses, the piano score evolves into stronger and sometimes ominous cues as Jean finds herself in increasingly dangerous situations while learning to be resourceful on her own.
“I also felt like [the piano] really matched the main character, the instrumentation,” Matsumiya explains. “She was going through a transformation of the environment and I kind of wanted to mix more of a masculine tone, and that’s where more of the masculine electronic stuff [comes in]. I kind of wanted to find a balance of a very feminine and very masculine score.”
Matsumiya, who also scores HBO’s “Betty,” also turned to strings to mold the new sound that had to reflect Jean’s journey by the end. “I also varied the speed. I would bounce it and used lots of weird processing to find a really dark tone but that still has depth,” she shares. “Being a mother myself, the main character transforms from a very different kind of woman to a mother. I was really drawn to the script and the aesthetic of the film.”
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