PARK CITY, UTAH — Even as he started making albums in his late teens, Andrew Bird wanted to be a film composer. His earliest efforts with Bowl of Fire were organized and released as a film, his stage sets are arranged like a 35 mm frame. He made his first complete score with “Norman” in 2011, but is still in search of fresh filmmakers with whom he can collaborate.
“People I would love to work with already have their ‘guy.’ Like, David Lynch or Werner Herzog or Jim Jarmusch. I’m looking for a young version of those. Like Carter Burwell with the Coen Brothers — he was just part of their world, just another creative mind in their group and he just happened to fill their minds with music. He was there from the start,” Bird said during our interview at Sundance.
For 2013, Bird is proactively filling the shoes of a composer by making his own A/V project — though it’s not a movie (yet). The Chicago-bred musician is lining up an outlet and funding for a live-action children’s television program, called “Professor Socks’ TV Show.” It was only a couple of days ago at Largo in L.A. that Bird bowed its theme song; for a father of a 2-year-old, the timing was right, to make kid-friendly music and to star in his own project.
Bird said he’s been watching a lot of Sesame Street and has been inspired by Jim Henson’s shows. He looked at “Professor Socks” as a “good excuse to play the old jug band stuff, the old hot jazz stuff” — think Emmett Otter. Bird, coincidentally, contributed a track to 2011’s “The Muppets” “I’m thinking of all the friends I can bring into the process… trying to sneak in to the kids’ thing through adults. It might be more of a cult, weird kind of musical.”
The idea is also prompted, in part, by socks. The violinist, guitarist, singer and pro-whistler performs most of his shows without shoes on, thus Bird has always boasted an immaculate array of socks. “I haven’t had to buy my own socks for a long time,” he said.
Bird will play a “confused professor who’s out to lunch on most scientific facts. He’s very confused,” he said. He’s helped in part by assistants like a librarian and a foxy companion… rather, an animatronic fox (rhymes with socks, got it?). There’s a magic dresser with magic socks and sliding across the floor in said socks transports him to other “vocational” worlds, “from as mundane as how they make bubble gum to the ballet.”
Check out part one of two of my interview with Bird above, for more details on his film scoring and socks.