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Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice reveal their songwriting process for ‘Song One’
Former Rilo Kiley frontwoman’s solo album due this spring
The music in Anne Hathaway’s indie drama “Song One,” which premiered at Sundance, is crucial to the film’s storyline. Indie folk duo Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice — who record as Jenny & Johnny — were tasked with writing original songs for the movie’s musician character James Forester (Johnny Flynn), plus creating a score. Lewis, Rice and director Kate Barker-Froyland revealed their process to HitFix last month in Park City.
Rice said he and Lewis talked a lot with Barker-Froyland about how “the script dictated a certain feeling.” They also found inspiration in some of their favorite songwriters. “I do think we have similar taste in a lot of the bands and records that we like, so that helped,” Rice said. Barker-Froyland specifically cited Elliott Smith, Bill Fox, Nick Drake, Andrew Bird and Bon Iver.
Lewis said she felt writing songs for a fictional character carried a certain measure of responsibility: “Our concern from a musical standpoint was that everything felt completely honest and authentic.”
While the songs were written for Flynn to perform, the score was composed with Hathaway’s Franny character in mind. “That was such a helpful direction for us scoring the film to think of Franny’s character’s internal monologue,” Rice said.
In addition to her work on “Song One,” Lewis is set to release her first solo album since 2008 this spring and recently premiered a track on “Girls.” She said she gets fan letters from prison and a ton of demo tapes from aspiring musicians. “The demos are always really exciting,” Lewis said. “I listen to them all.”