From Pulp Fiction to Ad Astra

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AUCKLAND, Today: An American/Kiwi soundtrack luminary is now permanently based in the Queen City and expanding her music services to include ads/tv sector and branding.

Karyn Rachtman, who is best known as the music supervisor/executive soundtrack producer for several of the most critically acclaimed, best-selling soundtracks of all time, including: Pulp Fiction, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, Boogie Nights, Reality Bites, Clueless, The Spongebob SquarePants Movie, The Rugrats Movie, Office Space, and Reservoir Dogs. 

She’s had a lifelong relationship with New Zealand. At 15, she moved here to live with her American father Peter Rachtman, who was involved in US/NZ showbiz ventures. She attended fourth form at Takapuna Grammar.

Having opened her Mind Your Music New Zealand office, Rachtman considers herself to be in the “import/export” music business. She recently hired New Zealand composers for three US-based productions, including two Netflix series, and the soundtrack for E-Line Media’s Beyond Blue, a new globally popular video game.

In the last year alone, she has worked on four New Zealand productions. Leveraging her extensive relations worldwide, she was able to acquire hard-to-get, classic hit songs that the Kiwi filmmakers never imagined they could possibly afford.  

Mind Your Music has a reputation in the US for supporting top advertising and branding campaigns, and helping agency creatives realize their vision.

“Leveraging her relationhips worldwide, she was able to acquire hard-to-get, classic hit songs that the Kiwi filmmakers never imagined they could possibly afford.”

She’s consulted with American agencies Chiat Day and Bartle Bugle & Haggerty, and worked on campaigns/musical-influenced branding for Levis, Burger King, AT&T, Nickelodeon, Vice, and CNN.

Other cause-related campaigns have included HIV/Aids Project and Planned Parenthood NYC.

“I love the idea of working with New Zealanders on ads and campaigns because there is so much talent here in this field,” she says.

“I enjoy the pace and process of the ad business, and look forward to making it possible for creative agencies here to realise their musical dreams where recording artists, songwriters, and producers are playing a bigger part in campaigns and branding.

“It’s a great time to be reaching out to those dream artists overseas as they are yearning for new opportunities. Plus music publishers and labels are far more open to sync opportunities than ever before.”

Grateful to be living in Auckland, she still has Mind Your Music LA, where she collaborates with her LA-based son, music supervisor Otis Rachtman.

They are currently working on an eclectic scope of projects, including a Herbie Hancock anthology. They recently music supervised and produced the original soundtrack for the Beyond Blue game, which was inspired by the award-winning BBC series Blue Planet II.

The Beyond Blue original soundtrack has been released digitally through Mind Your Music/Universal Music NZ, and as a limited-edition vinyl album through Mind Your Music/Vinyl Me, Please.

The Rachtmans curated the soundtrack to complement the unique narrative and environment of the game, where players are explorers experiencing the awesome wonder, mysteries, and creatures under the sea.

It’s an eclectic mix of psychedelic indie-pop/electronic/alt rock/world music by established indie artists The Flaming Lips, TOKiMONSTA, Cass McCombs, Muthoni Drummer Queen, and The Marías.

“They are currently working on a Herbie Hancock anthology.”

“Otis and I would constantly sit around trying to imagine what sounds, vibe, and lyrics would be on the world’s coolest underwater playlist compiled by scientists in a futuristic submarine,” she says.

“The soundtrack is truly international, reflecting the diversity of the characters and the discovery, awe, and impermanence of the oceans.”

In addition to the beautiful score and Beyond Blue Original Theme created by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper, there are songs by Kiwi artists Maisey Rika, Lips, and newcomer Sophie Gibson, whom Rachtman discovered as a guest lecturer at Auckland University.

Gibson, a 20-year-old singer/songwriter, co-wrote and recorded Something In The Water with American artists Amitė (Jorgen Baertsch and Christopher Gerber). Rachtman brought in Grammy-winning American producer/mixer Mickey Petralia (Flight of the Conchords, Beck, Eels, Peaches) to produce it as the end title.

The focus on incorporating music into the game in such a creative way stemmed from E-Line Media’s development process working with leading international ocean scientists.

E-Line Media creative director/ceo Michael Angst said: “We learned from scientists how music was such a huge part of their expeditions, from listening on the ships to finding a playlist as they travelled to the bottom of the ocean in submarines. So, we knew the music had to be special, interactive and an emotional experience for players.”

The Beyond Blue game and soundtrack has received rave reviews from major gaming news outlets across the world. The game has also been streamed by over 300 gaming influencers, playing to a global audience of over two million viewers. It is currently available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Apple Arcade.

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