Scala & Kolacny Brothers take the movie and TV world by storm.
The female choir heard in the current trailer for Showtime's "Homeland" is the same one that became an Internet sensation after its version of Radiohead's "Creep" provided the score to an ad for "The Social Network."
Scala & Kolacny Brothers -- a Belgian choir, conductor Stijn and classical pianist/composer/arranger Steven-is on a unique hot streak 16 years into their existence. Its version of the Police's "Every Breath You Take" heralds the second season of "Homeland" on Sept. 30, while its rendition of Rammstein's "Engel" is featured in theatrical trailers for the Sam Raimi-produced horror film "The Possession." The Police track and its version of U2's "With or Without You" were used on U.K. station ITV for World War I-era show "Downton Abbey," and there have also been recent U.S. synchs in "Sons of Anarchy," "Desperate Housewives" and "Nikita." A version of Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" was used last Halloween for the 7 Scarezone at Universal Orlando in Florida.
The choir could well be the first musical act to use movie trailers to carve out an identity and build an audience for its recordings and concerts. The sound is so specific that imitation-happy Hollywood studios chose to use the original recordings rather than create sound-alikes. It's the sound of 20-plus females and piano, solemn and sincere, that will next be heard on the dark holiday album December (Oct. 16, Atco/Rhino).
The music, says Mark Pinkus, senior VP of worldwide licensing at Rhino Entertainment who oversees its catalog, "works well in two situations. Someone wants a different version of a catalog song-they're not covers, they're reimaginations. It also works well for anyone looking for atmospheric, female vocals. That's one of the slots they fit in that always gets a great response from music supervisors."
Supervisors have clearly connected with a handful of the covers-Radiohead's "Creep" and "Exit Music (For a Film)" plus the Police cover have had multiple uses-which Pinkus attributes to the songs' lyrical quality.
Steven Kolacny sees a bond among the songs he chooses to cover. "They're emotional, dark," he says, speaking from his hometown of Aarschot, Belgium, where he just completed a version of Prince's "When Doves Cry" and is getting started on a tune he figures will be fun in concert -- Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls." "You need to touch people."
That emotional need sprang forth in 2002 when, after six years of working with an 18-girl choir, the bothers decided to create an indie-rock version. The inspiration was an acoustic take of "Creep," which became the first song Steven adapted for the group, at the time a popular classical choir.
A record deal with PIAS was signed in 2002. France embraced the act in 2004 with the French-language Respire and Germany followed a year later with Grenzenlos. Signed to EMI, the group launched its own label and production company, Fratelli, releasing two albums. Last year, Atco/Rhino released "Scala & Kolacny Brothers", which spent 19 weeks on Billboard's New Age Albums chart, peaking at No. 2. "Creep" went to No. 1 for 13 weeks on New Age Digital Songs.
Active in the United States and United Kingdom for only two years, the brothers attempted to crack the U.S. market with a PBS special. All Parts Move's Glenn Stone started managing the act stateside-Paradigm's Marty Diamond signed on as booking agent-and "the first thing we did was put [the special] on the shelf. It didn't represent them properly," Stone says.
Instead, it was the trailer for "The Social Network" that supplied the big break. With 7.5 million views on YouTube, the Scala & Kolacny Brothers' team estimates the trailer has been seen more than 250 million times.
"When you think of choirs, dark isn't the thing that comes to mind," Stone says. "I've done a lot of synchs and it's one in a thousand that creates a buzz. These synchs lead to getting emails from promoters in Korea who want to know how to book them."
Notes: Amy Osler, recently promoted to senior VP of music at CBS Television Studios, has overseen a collaboration between Green Day and "CSI: NY" and secured performances by Carly Rae Jepsen for the season premiere of "90210" and Carrie Underwood and Tony Bennett for "Blue Bloods"...Katie Couric's syndicated talk show, "Katie," will premiere Sept. 10 with Jessica Simpson and Sheryl Crow as guests. Other singers booked for the program's early weeks are Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez and Demi Lovato.