Braff's latest film, The Last Kiss, isn't his baby (it was directed by Tony Goldwyn, the guy who killed Patrick Swayze in Ghost), but the powers-that-be were smart enough to enlist him as soundtrack supervisor and let him try to re-create Garden State's magic. As production commenced on the sixth season of Scrubs, he spoke with us about his new status in the music biz and making pimp-ass mixes.
Westword: Would you call yourself a tastemaker?
Zach Braff: I don't know, man. I know less about music than the average person. There are plenty of bands you'd be shocked I've never listened to. I just have music that I like, and I think if I'm decent at anything, it's being able to pick the right songs to put to a picture. I've got a bunch of friends who are musicians, and they're always sharing music and talking music, and now I have this blog on my own site and MySpace where people recommend music to me all the time. So it sort of snowballs and feeds itself. But I don't know if I'm a tastemaker. I'm maybe a catalyst for people discovering new music.
Do you enjoy being expected to know what's musically hip?
I don't know what's hip; I just know what I like. There's no real science to what I do, other than making a decent mix CD of music I really like. The cool thing with Garden State was that it was essentially a mix CD of music I really liked. Then I found out, "Wow, I guess I have similar tastes to a lot of people out there, because a lot of people liked the compilation."
What are the differences between a mix CD and a soundtrack for you?
I think the main difference is you want to find music that will bring out the emotion of a scene without upstaging the dialogue or what the actors are doing. I think you can have a song that you love, that's one of your favorite songs, but it's not right for the movie because it's either lyrically or melodically competing with what the scene's about. When I did Garden State and Tony [Goldwyn] directed The Last Kiss, very rarely did we use music under dialogue. It's usually used as a transition or under a montage.
Does your mailbox get swamped with promotional CDs nowadays?
Yeah, tons of stuff. I get boxes and boxes of CDs. I give most of it away, though. I can't listen to it all.
Is there a mix CD no-no that everyone should follow?
There are no rules. Just good music.