Ian Hultquist has been steadily building on to an already impressive list of scores which includes music in films such as Animals and First Monday in May. The former founding member of Passion Pit is proving once again why he is such a sought after and well respected member of the film music community with his latest score for Silicon Cowboys. Hultquist has mixed tech filled beats with eighties flavor to make this already amazing and triumphant story pop to life. The story itself is already so well told throughout the film but its Hultquist’s score that makes it flow.
Silicon Cowboys (directed by Jason Cohen) tells the true story of Bill Murto, Rod Canion, and Jim Harris who cofounded Compaq Computers. The three met for dinner one evening in Houston on a night that as it would turn out changed not only their lives but the world as they knew it. They left the restaurant that night with an idea to create the portable PC. Silicon Cowboys is a true David vs Goliath tale where we see these three pioneers go up against tech giant IBM with what many would say were unspeakable odds against them. It’s a story of perseverance, betrayal, and success. The film debuted at SXSW where it received overwhelming positive feedback from fans and critics with Hultquist score being recognized as the perfect backdrop for this breakthrough film.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ian Hultquist to find out more about his experience while working on the score for Silicon Cowboys as well as his advice on taking on your own Goliaths in your life while working towards your goals.
Ian Hultquist Interview
TAMMY: I am digging your work that I’ve heard so far in Silicon Cowboys. What sort of preparation and research was needed before you began working on the score for this film?
IAN HULTQUIST: Thank you! I honestly didn’t get much time to prep on this one, as it just kind of fell into my lap. Ross Dinerstein (Producer) called me the first or second week of January saying that they needed someone to jump on to a new documentary he was doing ASAP. I think I met with Jason Cohen (Director) a day or two after that, and then I was off & running!
TAMMY: What were the creators of the film looking for specifically in regards to the music?
IAN HULTQUIST: From my very first meeting with Jason Cohen (Director), he pretty much had two main notes regarding the score “Make it sound like the 80’s, and make it FUN!” He also has such an extensive knowledge of music history (especially circa 1980’s-90’s), that it made most of our conversations very easy.
TAMMY: I love the 80s, digital/techy sound throughout this score. Were you able to utilize any equipment from that time period in order to create the sound that you were looking for?
IAN HULTQUIST: Yes! I have a large collection of Analog & Digital Synths that I really got to dig into on this score. The most prominent Synth of that era that I have is a Roland Juno 106, which was the first Analog Synth I ever bought. There were a number of others that I used that are actually newer Synths, but they still retain the sound & character of their predecessors. I think my Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 6 & Prophet 12 and my Moog Sub37 are on almost every single track. I also got a lot of use out of some software synths like UVI’s Vintage Vault collection & of course Arturia’s incredible collection of Synth emulators.
TAMMY: Were there any specific artists who inspired some of your work in this film?
IAN HULTQUIST: The filmmakers had put together a really great temp score for this film, that definitely helped me get inspired & lead the way on what direction to go in. Everything from Daft Punk to College to some of the ambient works by Chris Zabriskie. It was quite a cool palette of sounds to work off of.
TAMMY: The story told in Silicon Cowboys is so inspiring. Ultimately it’s a David and Goliath tale of the tech age. These men really helped to shape the world as we know it today. How do you feel the music industry today would be different had it not been for this sort of rise in the digital age?
IAN HULTQUIST: I think it’s a bit hard to say what the music industry would look like, if we hadn’t gone through the digital revolution that we are still living in. However I will say that Compaq really opened up new doors to inventors and creators, that spurred some incredible advancements in technology. I’m sure you could argue that if Compaq had never come up with the first Portable Computer, someone else at some point would have. However, it may not have been made with the same heart & ingenuity that allowed it to kick start a whole new world of computing for us.
TAMMY: What has been a highlight for you personally with getting to write the score for Silicon Cowboys?
IAN HULTQUIST: The biggest highlight of working on this score was that I honestly just had so much fun doing it! So many films can be very challenging to work on, whether you’re running up against deadlines or alternating creative visions. It was really wonderful to work with someone like Jason (Cohen), who was so concrete on what he wanted & opened an musical world that was very easy for me to jump in to.
TAMMY: I think that any artist…or really anyone who has a dream or goal in their life that they are trying to build towards…can relate to the David vs Goliath theme that is found throughout Silicon Cowboys. I’m sure that you yourself have had to face some battles and hard times in your own career to make it to where you are today. What advice do you have for the Davids out there who are facing their own Goliaths in an attempt to reach their goals?
IAN HULTQUIST: I think the best piece of advice I can give is to stay true to yourself. Know what’s right for you, and what is going to make you happy in the end. The entertainment industry is a tough nut to crack. It’s extremely easy to get wound up in the hunger for success, and the insanely competitive environment out there, but it’s so important to remind yourself that every individual forges their own path.
TAMMY: All of your film scores thus far have been incredible and Silicon Cowboys looks to be following suit. What are you currently working on or have coming up that you are excited to share with your fans?
IAN HULTQUIST: Wow, thank you so much! September is definitely a packed month for me, a lot of stuff I have been working on is finally being released. My first TV show is premiering this Wednesday (Sept. 7th), I was brought on for the 3rd season of a show called Full Circle which is on DirecTV’s Audience Network. It was such a fun experience to work in the TV world for a couple months, I’m really hoping I can do more of that soon. I also have three soundtracks being released on my label Little Twig Records, starting with the Silicon Cowboys Soundtrack on September 16th! The film will also be out that day in select theaters & VOD.
As far as new material: I am currently working on Alistair Legrand’s next feature, which is a horror film for Netflix. Perfect timing for Halloween season!
To find out more about Ian Hultquist, his music, and latest news you can visit his website at ianhultquist.com.