Music supervisor Lynn Fainchtein is known from Mexico City to Hollywood for her work on Alejandro González Iñarritu’s The Revenant and Birdman, and Lee Daniel’s Precious and The Butler; which is to say she is known for creating the kind of soundtracks that take on a life of their own. Fainchtein, a Mexican radio veteran who established herself as an influencer before that word was adopted for the digital age, went to Miami to work for MTV; since returning to Mexico in 2000, she has produced films as well as worked as music supervisor for a long list of movies and commercials.
Fainchtein teamed with former EMI exec Camilo Lara – aka Mexican Institute of Sound -- and animated movie producer Paco Arriagada [Una Pelicula de Huevos] to form Casete, a digital distributor and label, curatorial team, and marketing and promotion agency. What Fainchtein describes as Casete’s “cross pollination” currently includes programming music and film for iTunes Mexico store, digitally distributing music and films, and releasing and promoting physical albums by artists including Bjork, Marilyn Manson, Andres Calamaro and Los Amigos Invisibles.
On April 22, Fainchtein will speak at the Billboard Latin Music Conference as part of the Music, Film & TV panel. We rang her up at her home in Mexico City for quick chat.
What are some ways that you find out about and share music?
I love music in Spanish, so I search for it. I have my contacts to know what is happening in music, where it’s coming from. For example, I like Colombian music a lot, so I have my network of contacts in Colombia.
I put a song on a news program every day [Radio Formula’s “Atando Cabos”]. The idea is always to present something that has a point of view, that there is a reason to recommend it. I have a Spotify playlist where I put basically what I put on the program every day.
I’m a Twitter fan, that’s a place where I can choose different things from different media and tell people about it...I’ m a fan of Shazam...Today, things really are the way they’ve always been, in that you find out about things from friends. And from reading. Reading is important today because we’re faced with the problem of how do you stay informed with the quantity of information that exists? Today, how do I listen to everything out there, experience what I want to experience, eat what I want to eat, and how can I work as much as I need to work to be able to make a living? In that sense, things continue to be very selective, because the time you actually have for all those things is the same. So you create filters, and what is interesting is what you choose. That’s the value of digital – the ability to manage the great quantity of information, of music, out there.
How have streaming services changed people’s exposure to music in Latin America?
I live in a Mexico where I’m still not so sure about the impact of digital. On the other side of the border everything is digital. But I feel that in Mexico, and in Latin America, as a whole, there is still a lot of influence of radio. Here, the radio is still very important for music. That’s how you get to know an artist. I think here you will still see a lot of music downloaded on telephones. As far as, digital, I think the playlists are what is important. For people who aren’t professionally involved in music, to have this access to millions and millions of songs, the playlists are the only way to approach it.
You’ve worked on a lot of indie films, in addition to major releases and advertising – do you work primarily with indie music?
No I dont work with indie music; I work with everything. In The Revenant there is a lot of music that is contemporary, classical minimalist music. I work with a lot of classical music. I work with a lot of jazz music. Jazz, blues, everything that is folk, from Mexico, from The United States...cumbia grupero, I work with tropical music, with vallenato. For Colombian movies I’ve worked with so much vallenato, and fusions, [from groups like] Diamante Electrico, Systema Solar, Bomba Estereo. Music from Chile, Argentina. I work with everything. It’s incredible.
What are some of your sources for music?
I work with who I have better relationships with, who has the best catalogue. Warner Music, Warner Chappell I work very well with, with Sony; they are big companies that I know if, for example, I urgently need a Morrissey track, they are going to help me.
I do playlists all the time. That’s the most beautiful thing [about finding music for a film]. Then I spend like eight months begging people to give me songs – “It’s such a great movie that please let it be less expensive, this is an independent movie. “All the time. That’s what I do.
Has being a music supervisor changed for you over the years?
The problem I am having now is with the lack of appreciation that exists for the music – It’s very difficult. I have met few directors as passionate as Alejandro [González Iñárritu], who will move heaven and earth to get the song that he wants.
It’s very hard when you don’t have those 5000 dollars for a song, and that is getting more and more difficult.
What are some of the soundtracks you consider your “greatest hits?”
Almost all of them. In almost every film there is a song that worked perfectly and that I’m so proud of. In Babel, it’s the Sakamoto piece at the end. In The 33, it’s Los Bunker’s [version of] Silvio Rodriguez ["Al Final de Este Viaje en la Vida.”] There are beautiful moments in Sin Nombre with cumbias. In Precious, there’s a song when she’s walking on the street in New York; “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking,” by Sunny Dale. On the Road was an incredible jazz movie. In Miss Bala we did a fantastic thing: we bought pieces of the score of Godard’s Contempt from 1963, and used that music; classical music.
The Billboard Latin Music Conference takes place April 25-28. To register please visit http://www.billboardevents.com/latin