The soundtrack album from the intense Netflix medieval action drama ‘Outlaw King’, composed and performed by Grey Dogs with a host of Scotland’s musical talent was released on 19th June 2020.
Mixing simple beautiful period music with moody atmospheres, plaintive soundscapes and high intensity action score, it is a journey through the misty glens, dark castles and bloody battlefields of Robert The Bruce’s Scotland which somehow sounds both ancient and modern.
At the centre of Grey Dogs is acclaimed producer Tony Doogan (Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai) and the film’s director David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water, Starred Up). They have previously worked together on the soundtrack to Mackenzie’s film ‘Starred Up’.
After initial sketches made against various cuts of the film, Tony and David started calling in some carefully selected musicians from Scotland’s rich pool of musical talent including violinist Greg Lawson (Grit Orchestra) Barry Burns (Mogwai) and sax genius Raymond MacDonald to bounce against these initial sketches and the film. As these ideas started to build, Tony worked on arranging some of the bigger dramatic elements into orchestral score. This was recorded with the Scottish Session Orchestra and then embedded back into the score and shaped to the film.
For the end of the film, Tony and David decided to work with the wonderful Kathryn Joseph for her contemporary take (with her unique voice and raw soulful intensity) on two folk classics – the tragic Land O’ The Leal and the rousing Scots Wha Hae (about Robert the Bruce and his army on the morning of the Battle of Bannockburn). Recorded simply with Kathryn on piano and vocals in a highly emotional session, Tony and David knew immediately that no further embellishment was needed and then kept the unpolished unbalanced master recording for the film.
“What we are doing is not normal and it takes a special kind of person to go on these kinds of creative journeys of discovery. I love working with Tony because he totally gets it, even at its most dirty and ugly”, says Mackenzie.
The album became available to buy/stream digitally worldwide on June 19th and as a limited edition double vinyl pressing on June 20th in the UK/Europe. It will become available in North America/Canada on August 14th. To find places to buy and stream the Outlaw King album please visit https://smarturl.it/greydogs. You can listen to excerpts from the soundtrack below:
Doogan and Mackenzie have formed a way of collaborating that is creatively unique.
Mackenzie says “I am interested in sounds, noises, resonances and sonic collision. I often find myself trying to suppress musicians’ natural impulses to be melodic and ordered with the soundtracks to my films. I am always trying to push away from this into something odder and more intense. I love music and I have had the privilege of working with a number of really great musicians like Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Max Richter and David Byrne on my soundtracks. But sometimes as a director I want to take more of a front seat in the shaping and creation of the soundtrack. With Outlaw King we wanted the sound to come from the earth; from fire, mud and the bone crushing blunt force of medieval warfare.”
“Working with David is unlike other collaborations. His creative process is totally free and open; we can explore every idea and leave no shadowy sonic thought untested. He actively encourages as much creativity and non-conformism as possible” explains Doogan.
Grey Dogs is an umbrella collective designed to pull in diverse talent for making film soundtracks and other sonic landscape work. Tony Doogan and David Mackenzie are the core and a variety of top musicians come in and out. Tony says, “We wanted to expand the scope of the recording by bringing in musicians who I know from the recording world and had a particular quality, so for certain cues we worked with certain musicians who had a unique sound that we were looking for. In essence, we formed a band of revolving members who, in their own highly individual way, helped us bring the soundtrack to life.”
The name Grey Dogs refers to a very turbulent channel of the same name between the Sound of Jura and the Atlantic Ocean, next to the famous whirlpool of Corryvreckan. Mackenzie explains “It’s terrifying and beautiful and that somehow felt resonant”
Grey Dogs have also worked together on the soundtrack for Mackenzie’s short ‘What is Essential?’ which is part of the Netflix Homemade collection which debuted on June 30th.