For singer-songwriter Chris Arena, everything changed the night that he heard Alexi Murdoch’s “Orange Sky” on The O.C. In that moment, he decided to walk away from a life filled with touring and paying bars to perform so that he could get a chance to really be heard. Realizing what great television music moments could be, he decided to focus on cinematic music.
“[The O.C.] broke so many good acts,” Arena said. “It almost set the tone for, I feel like, the Grey’s Anatomys and the Dawson’s Creeks; those shows really paved the way for this whole movement of new artists focusing on cinematic music. I just picked a point and focused.”
More specifically, he picked ABC Family’s hit show Pretty Little Liars. “My brother [and] his girlfriend – they’re a little younger than I am – he and his girlfriend and all her friends, they’re obsessed with the show. They would talk about it and geek out on it. I just thought that was a good target. I wasn’t really familiar with the show that much, and I started watching it, and I kind of secretly developed a really strong liking for the show, and I thought it was interesting. It worked out really nicely because they needed a lot of music that dealt with heartbreak and singer-songwriter acoustics. It was a nice match.”
So with that idea in mind, Arena started writing. “I started to write songs based on some of the scenes I’d been watching, and to put it in a polite way, I kind of harassed this one editor at Pretty Little Liars and sent him maybe 10 or 15 fully produced songs,” Arena said. “The first eight or nine didn’t get a response, and then he finally picked up on one, and he said, ‘We’re gonna try it out.’ And they used a 17-second clip of a song called “Babyfish.” They had a lot of people that got on board with the music, and they invited me to the editing bay, and one thing led to another. It worked out pretty well, actually. It was a very organic, natural process in that sense.”
Now, Arena has had six songs featured on Pretty Little Liars, as well as another on the now-canceled spinoff Ravenswood. So how does the process work? Well for starters, Arena is given months to brainstorm, write, and produce his music. For example, he was brought to the studio back in August to watch the Caleb and Hanna breakup scene, which would later air in the show’s Jan. 7 winter premiere. READ FULL STORY