Antonio Pinto interview: ‘The Mosquito Coast’ composer
“I really like to process and to destroy the sound, in a way, and make something else of it,” reveals composer Antonio Pinto about his unique and ambitious score for Apple TV Plus’ new seven-episode drama series “The Mosquito Coast.”
“We are overwhelmed with electronic sounds and repetitive notes to make you feel tense, so I really like to use and develop and research and look for new ways to play this,” he explains about the innovative ways that he uses electronic sounds along with more organic orchestral instruments. Watch our exclusive video interview with Pinto above.
“The Mosquito Coast” stars Justin Theroux (“The Leftovers”) as controversial idealist and inventor Allie Fox. Creator Neil Cross (“Luther”) developed the series based on Theroux’s uncle Paul Theroux‘s 1981 novel of the same name. Cross executive produces the series alongside both Justin and Paul Theroux, Edward L. McDonnell, Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen, Bob Bookman and Rupert Wyatt (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), who directs the first two episodes.
The ambitious action drama follows the lives of the Fox family, who flee to Mexico on the run from the US government. Melissa George (“In Treatment”) co-stars as Allie’s wife Margot alongside Logan Polish and Gabriel Bateman, who play their teenage children. While audiences may recall that “The Mosquito Coast” was previously adapted into Peter Weir‘s Harrison Ford-starring 1986 feature film, the new adaptation promises to be truer to the source material, delving into the motivations behind Allie’s quest to get off the grid and relocate his family away from the government forces that are after him.
Pinto is renowned for blending traditional orchestral melodies with electronic synthesized sounds, like his work on acclaimed Brazilian films “Central Station” and “City of God” and documentaries “Amy” and “Senna.” It is a hallmark of his work on “The Mosquito Coast,” on which the composer relies heavily on evocative cello motifs that are occasionally altered or distorted to convey certain emotions or ramp up the tension from scene to scene. “When you process it, it sounds electronic. But it is also organic,” the composer explains of the way he was able to manipulate the music he recorded on his cello. “The way the arch touches the string and the weight of your hand as you change the note,” he says, “I like to get very organic sounds and transform it into something that you don’t know what it is.”
For Pinto, the cello was the perfect instrument to use on this show because it can often resemble the human voice, which if played a certain way can make “sounds like screaming or crying,” he says, which subliminally convey a sense of ambivalence or dread for the audience. “I thought it would be a great element to counterpoint anything beautiful in the music. To always have this sensation like there’s beauty, there’s emotion, because they’re a family so sometimes there’s an emotional moment, but there’s always something odd,” he says. “Like you think somethings going to happen, or even you don’t understand what’s going on.”