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Interviews with People Inspired by Oz
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Another Return to Oz
A Conversation with Eliza Wren
Eliza Wren has recently composed a new soundtrack for Walt Disney's "Return to Oz". It was debuted at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in January with a live performance of the score. Fairuza Balk, who played Dorothy in the film was also in attendance. In addition to music, Eliza has performed in several films on television and the theatre. We talked about her influences and the part that Oz has played in her life...
WW: You've composed a huge body of music since the very young age of 8. Have you written any other Oz related songs over your career?
thought I kinda looked like Dorothy growing up and was something from
Oz for several Halloweens: Munchkin,
whole family were characters from Oz once)...
were only five years old when Disney's "Return to
Oz" was released. Did you see it during it's brief
theatrical run, or later on video?
WW: I'm assuming you watched "Return to Oz" countless times while scoring it. Have you noticed any bloopers or continuity errors?
no, and I usually pick up
on stuff like that. I did however notice more and more amazing things
film of that time) and film tricks. At least visually (I can't remember
enough to say) this film was quite ahead of its time- quite a
WW: Were you dissatisfied with David Shire's original score to "Return to Oz".
I've actually only seen the movie with its original
soundtrack maybe 3 or 4 times in my life (as opposed to about 847 times
sound). From what I remember, it was a bit sparse if anything. I
don't recall a
big 'memorable' theme, but I can't remember anything negative. It
just had to go
(with the bathwater) when I made my project.
WW: You have another connection with the Walt Disney Company. Tell us about your acting experience in the "Return to Halloweentown" project.
was the 'geeky/nerdy girl'. I got to pull out the
beret & braids I used to wear all of the time when I was
it sort of came naturally, I guess.
WW: This isn't the first time that an alternate soundtrack has been shown to an Oz film. Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" has become a cult favorite to listen to while watching the 1939 MGM Oz movie. What do you think of this phenomenon?
EW: I saw
this at a theatre & was impressed. And yes, it
did play a part in me deciding to do 'Return to Oz'. I love putting
film footage- I'd like to do it again sometime- but need to rest a
this one first.
WW: You recently did a live performance of the soundtrack in Salt Lake City where Fairuza Balk was in attendance. Had you two met before?
We talked on the phone a little before the event- but
that was our first 'in person' meeting. She was really excited and said
even heard about the project before we first ever communicated.
WW: How would you describe the music of Eliza Wren Returns to Oz?
one thing- I think the music transforms alongside the
film - it gets more and more surreal the deeper you get into Oz. One
I really liked in putting it together was that some of the songs were
wrote prior to my starting this project- that fit perfectly into place-
musically & lyrically- I guess you could say those were my 'Dark
the Rainbow' moments- if Pink Floyd really did that by accident.
WW: Are you familiar with The Scissor Sisters' song "Return to Oz"? Did it have any influence on your latest project?
Funny- I haven't heard it- I should watch it on YouTube
right now. Our producer, Hyrum, told me about it when we were in the
mixing the album- I hadn't heard of it before then.
WW: Have you read any of the Oz books? If so, which ones are your favorites and why?
did read 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' - but haven't got
around to any others. I have the 'Return to Oz' novel with images from
movie -from my sister's winnings- I also read her picture books from
collection a bunch of times when I was a child.
WW: Eliza Wren is the name of the band as well as your first and middle name. Where did the name Wren come from in your family?
EW: My mom just liked the name and felt strongly about what she named me- it's not from anywhere in particular. It does mean 'songbird' in the dictionary which is pretty nice. Also, there is actually another singer/songwriter named Eliza Wren - we're friends (we could have easily been enemies- ha ha). I met the other Eliza in London & we played together... A documentary is being made about that whole story... but as far as the name- apparently it was so for a reason.
WW: What has been the most interesting thing to happen to you while on tour? As a fellow musician, I know there have to be stories that are unforgettable.
EW: A long time ago I put together a Halloween show (long before the Oz project) & made the band wear costumes - some members loved it- but one in particular hated it- he was 'Sid Vicious' (we were all dead rock stars). He was so angry he had to wear this costume- and it showed - he even threw his mandolin at one point- ironically this made an incredible portrayal of Sid & the crowd loved it.
-Our drive to Canada was an adventure- I had bad food poisoning for the drive, when we arrived in Toronto-we realized we left the bass (we took everything else- including drums...), we had car trouble in a city named 'Fate'...
been in 22 car wrecks...
(but not all on tour)
WW: Any future projects or events you'd like to let everyone know about?
Well, I plan on both touring with the Oz project &
letting it tour on its own. Also, my other band, Haun's Mill Massacre
(www.haunsmillmassacre.com) has a new album coming out (this band also
with film projection- but not in sync- more atmospheric). The group is
of dark spaghetti-western folk outfit complete with costumes.
WW: In addition to music, you are also a cartoonist (I liked the line drawings of Oz characters inside of the CD jacket). Would you ever want to write and illustrate an Oz comic?
EW: Yeah! That's a great idea! Thanks!
WW: Does the extremely expensive Eliza Wren phone booth for sale on your website have any connection to Doctor Who's Tardis?
EW: I'm not familiar with it - that's another thing people have been telling me to explore. ...still waiting for someone to buy a booth- maybe this will get the word out...ha ha ∆
Returns to Oz is
available on CD at
Blair Frodelius lives in upstate New York and is the
--Interviewed by Blair Frodelius; April 28, 2009Home Again