Interview: Silas Hite Sounds for A Dinner Party
Legendary composer Silas Hite has released VOL. 1: Sounds for a Dinner Party – a soundtrack which acts as the perfect set list to accompany an evening of fine dining, easy conversation, and relaxation. Violin, mandolin, accordion, cello, bassoon, and more, play off one another to create a soundtrack for a dinner party to remember.
The World Loves Melbourne highly recommends this soundtrack for your next dinner party after we listened to the music over a few reds at our own dinner party! We found it to be a compelling and joyous soundtrack (perfect for a dinner party but also a listen on its own).
Silas has created a soundtrack which honors the delicate combination, balance, and joy that happens when friends and family converse around a dinner table. Something we value and we love to entertain ourselves. His inspiration for the album stems from 60’s era mood records, when albums for specific activities were popular. “As a composer, I am always trying to set a mood, but it is usually for film or TV shows. This album was an opportunity to set the mood for a real-life event,” says Silas on what inspired him to make the soundtrack.
With this album, Silas hopes to remind people to be truly present in their human interactions. “In today’s phone-centric world, you can quickly order food and pick music with a flick of your thumb. That’s great - sometimes. My hope is that this record helps people re-connect with intention and deliberate living. (We agree!) A dinner party host makes deliberate menu choices and sets intention when planning for a party. This record is designed to be part of that deliberate choice and intention.”
Here is my interview with Silas Hite:
What was the inspiration for this project?
My wife, actually! She suggested I make an album of instrumental music that was not attached to a film or TV show and was a soundtrack for real life. We enjoy putting on vinyl albums to set the mood for whatever we are doing and so this was just a natural extension of our lifestyle.
What are the most important elements of any great dinner party?
A good cook helps, haha. But seriously, it’s about great food, interesting conversation, and making people feel comfortable.
Is music as important as the food and wine?
I certainly think so! If there’s bad music on while I’m eating, it definitely taints the experience. On the other hand great music can elevate any party, right? The right music can help make people be comfortable, can stimulate the conversation, and create a great mood.
I remember when my parents hosted dinner parties when I was a child and they would always put on mood music like Burt Bacharach. Rather than just music to rock out to. Are you connecting with these 60s records that many people played at dinner parties?
Yes, a lot of the inspiration came from those mood records, although my music doesn’t sound like a throwback. It’s more like a film soundtrack for a film that is happening at your dinner table. The first track on the album is called Petit Apéritif and as the name suggests it’s a little taste of music to pull you into the album and set the mood. Then the album ebbs and flows like a good conversation, lively at first and then by the end, when everyone is getting full and relaxing, the music relaxes too. The music is mirroring your dinner experience, while simultaneously shaping it.
With a rise in foodie culture and food programs on TV there seems to be a rise in people stepping out with more sophisticated dishes in the home and inviting their friends. Do you think food is bringing people together more than ever? And with that is there a demand for music to match?
People have always been brought together by food, but I do think more people are paying attention to quality ingredients and more sophisticated dishes. If that sensibility extends to the music they listen to while they dine, then they may enjoy my album. I created the music with some of the very best classical players in Los Angeles, but I didn’t want the music to be too pretentious or cerebral. In fact I wanted it to be accessible and inclusive, like a good meal. You may use sophisticated ingredients to create your dishes, but you certainly don’t want to alienate people with your menu, you want to draw them in and tantalize them. That was my approach to the music as well.
How did this album differ to your work with films and TV shows?
When I score a film or television show, I am working with a director, producer, and editor to create the perfect score to help tell their story. I have to stay out of the way of dialog, match the visual edits on screen, avoid clashing with the sound effects. It’s a balancing act.
For Sounds for a Dinner Party I didn’t have a team of people to please and I didn’t have to worry about supporting a form of visual media. It was about writing music that I thought would be pleasing to hear when you are enjoying a meal with friends, or cooking, or even just relaxing with a glass of wine.
You mention a phone-centric world. Do we need to recapture something of connection that may be lost or diminished?
In today’s phone-centric world, you can quickly order food and pick music with a flick of your thumb. That’s great - sometimes. My hope is that this record helps people re-connect with intention and deliberate living. A dinner party host makes deliberate menu choices and sets intention when planning for a party. This record is designed to be part of that deliberate choice and intention.
Your musical score for Chef's Table was amazing. Is there a connection here in bringing a musical flair to a food culture?
Thank you, I’ve really enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to score Chef’s Table and I am very proud of that music. I think it’s possible to draw a few similarities between the two. For instance, both scores have relatively small ensembles of live players achieving a semi-classical sound. But overall I would say they are different. For Chef’s Table, my intent is to help tell the story of a specific chef and their creative journey. On the other hand, the intent of Sounds for a Dinner Party is to set the mood for average people to have a wonderful real-life experience.
About Silas Hite:
Silas Hite is an Emmy-winning composer with music in his DNA. His music has played in such venerable institutions as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the New York Museum of Modern Art, and The Whitney Museum. He began his career co-scoring blockbuster and independent films such as Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs with his uncle, noted composer Mark Mothersbaugh (DEVO). His music plays in television shows around the world, from kids shows like Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue! and Disney’s Dance-A- Lot Robot, to adult shows such as Chef's Table and Aussie Pickers. He has scored hundreds of commercials for clients such as Apple, McDonalds, and Chevy, earning him an Emmy, Adweek's Campaign of the Decade, and most recently a Titanium Grand Prix from Cannes. He’s contributed memorable music to some of the top selling video games of the past fifteen years such as The Sims 2, Skate 3, and The Simpsons.
Check out Silas Hite for more: