As electronic musician Dan Deacon has increasingly lent his talents to the big screen, it’s become more and more difficult to guess his next move. Between scoring inventive nonfiction features like “Rat Film” and “Time Trial,” Deacon has also found the time to contribute music to Francis Ford Coppola’s fascinating “Twixt” and Fisher Stevens and Malcolm Venville’s heart-pounding “And We Go Green.” His latest: Rebecca Stern’s “Well Groomed,” a flashy documentary about, of all things, the wild world of professional dog grooming.
Stern’s documentary, entirely scored by Deacon, premiered at SXSW in 2019, before working its way around the festival circuit, including screenings at Hot Docs, Montclair, Bentonville, RiverRun, Sarasota, and many more. Earlier this month, “Well Groomed” hit streaming, through HBO.
Per its official synopsis, it “explores the exuberant world of competitive dog grooming and follows the lives of dog owners who are challenging the definition of art. The film offers a rare look into the lives of dog owners who are dedicated to transforming their poodles into living sculptures. It delves deep into an all-consuming subculture of America where the motivation to win drives them into devoting their lives to the competition.”
“I wanted the score’s nature to reflect the canvas the artists worked with, one that is living, breathing and continuously fluctuating,” Deacon told IndieWire. “Nothing could be too exact because the canvas doesn’t allow for it. I desired sounds like that of a dog’s movements, how they excite easily and shift from resting state to ecstatic play quickly. ‘Snip Snip’ is the opening theme, and we hear it throughout the film. The piece has a playful but focused and meditative quality. The music is meant to channel the groomer getting lost in the colorful fur that is the medium she sculpts with.”
Deacon’s music, which inspired Stern before she had even locked in her soundtrack choices, reflects so much about what makes “Well Groomed” charming and interesting: it’s a little whimsical, quite propulsive, but it also approaches the material with respect and care.
Added Stern, “Part of the soul of the film is the blending of reality and fantasy — between the women’s art, their hopes, their dogs, and the realities of daily living. Dan’s music melted that line in a vibrant and unexpected way. ‘Snip Snip’ actually started as an inspiration track Dan created really early in the process. I fell in love with the tone and the vibe, even in rough cue and when he sent the track after recording with musicians, I knew this was ‘Well Groomed’s opening moment.”
Watch a video for Deacon’s track “Snip Snip,” exclusively on IndieWire, below. The soundtrack is currently available via Domino Records, and “Well Groomed” is now available to stream on most digital platforms and for purchase on DVD.