Read Paste's full issue 56 cover story on Where the Wild Things Arehere.
Paste: What’s the magic in the story Where The Wild Things Are? Why do you think children and their parents open this book again and again to read about Max and the wild things?
O: I think Maurice struck on some winning formula. So much of
the magic is in his voice as an illustrator and writer. The book is
brimming with both darker and lighter sides of imagination—there is
something bittersweet about the story, and maybe there is some hidden
depth in that bittersweetness that kids connect with. ... It’s hard to
pinpoint anyway, like trying to pinpoint what makes a song a hit.
: How did you become part of this movie project?
O: I’m in Spike’s big-kid club. Most of the creative people that
Spike works with are children trapped in grownup’s bodies. Spike came
to me with the idea of the music having a similar mood to The Langley
Schools Music Project, Innocence and Despairchoir singing melancholy pop songs by David Bowie and the Beach Boys,
etc. I don’t know how close we got to that idea in the end, but the
intention was to write simple melodies that were emotionally
complex—something that both kids and adults would appreciate.
Paste: Did you have to think differently to write songs for a movie?
O: I tried not to think of it as writing for a movie. I knew the
script and its major themes, and I let the feelings in those themes
simmer under the surface for a while, and then put myself in the head
of Max, the main character, and tried to write from his heart.
Paste: What’s your favorite scene in the book?
O: I like the rumpus. I love the all the devious expressions on
the faces of Max and the wild things when they’re swinging in the
trees. Reminds me of when I’m up to no good, looking for trouble with a
posse—a night out on the town.