When it comes to bonding experiences, French-Finnish duo The Dø can claim one of the strangest: Gruff actor Jean Reno. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Merilahti first met composer Dan Levy while scoring Reno’s 2005 action flick “Empire of the Wolves” at the request of director Chris Nahon. “It was a good project for us to start making music on. It’s where we really learned to know each other,” says Merilahti, phoning from the middle of a traffic jam in her native Paris. “And from then on, we never stopped making music together.” To date, the art-rock team has released two Dø albums (“A Mouthful” and the new “Both Ways Open Jaws”) and penned scores for films, theater, dance and even poetry readings.
What’s it like composing for dance and theater? Well, making music for theater and dance is a totally different experience, because with cinema, the director has a very specific idea of what they want — they always come to you with specific references, and the musicians are expected to do something that sounds like what they have in mind. So we really prefer making music for contemporary dance. The choreographers that we’ve met have usually been a lot more attracted to danger and exploration.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve added your music to? Actually, we were supposed to do something quite funny recently for the European finals, the football cup. It was suggested that we would go an improvise music on the final in a museum, where they would project the final match on a big screen. Ninety minutes of complete improvisation on a football match? That was a project I would have loved to do! But it didn’t happen. They wanted some virtuoso piano player in the end.
Have you soundtracked any TV commercials yet? Well, the plan is not to make them on purpose. We were just lucky on our first album when there was a French TV commercial that used our song “On My Shoulders.” It was a well-made commercial, and it was for notebooks — actual paper notepads. At the beginning, I was against it, because it was the first time our music would’ve been heard by a bigger audience than the 500 fans we had on MySpace. We were feeling very protective of the music at first.
And now? It still hurts when a really crap commercial uses your music. Music you’ve done with so much heart, so much love. But obviously, in the end it gives you the money to do more albums. And if you’re a new indie band, nobody else will be giving you any money to record your albums, anyway.
IF YOU GO
Opening for St. Lucia
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 9:30 p.m. today
Tickets: $14 to $15
Contact: (415) 861-2011; www.snagtickets.com