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DeVotchKa’s Nick Urata talks film scoring, new album on Mile High Stash podcast

Devotchka Nick Urata Mile High Stash

Colorado writer and musician Adam Perry hosts a weekly podcast called Mile High Stash. Each Monday he drops a new episode featuring an interview with a Colorado musician or artist.

This week, Mile High Stash hosts Nick Urata from Colorado band DeVotchKa.

Born and raised in New York, Urata eventually made his way to Colorado, where he founded DeVotchKa in the early 2000s. The band gained national notoriety when their music (including song “How It Ends”) was featured in the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine and nominated for a GRAMMY a year later. Since then, Urata balances DeVotchKa with his work as a film composer, having scored dozens of films including Paddington, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Urata also composed the theme music for Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

During their conversation, Urata talks to Mile High Stash about his career as a Hollywood film and TV composer and living “a double life,” where fans in Colorado know him from DeVotchKa while Hollywood folks sometimes don’t even know he’s in a band. He also talks about DeVotchKa’s classical collaborations and their upcoming show May 6 with the Boulder Philharmonic, names five albums that would make up his Mile High Stash, and shares how he takes Boulder with him everywhere he goes. 

Below are a few highlights:

On the classical shows: 

“It’s been an amazing part of our last act of the band. We started because we had so many Boulder connections, and Tom was an alternate for the Boulder Phil, so we befriended all these players and we always recruited them to play on our records. Then we just started getting more ambitious with our arrangements, and finally it was kinda the perfect storm where the Colorado Symphony started to reach out to pop acts, and we were ready to go. We recorded a live album and then we got to do five Red Rocks shows with them. It’s been kind of a dream come true for us.”

On DeVotchKa’s first album:

When he was making their first record, “I felt like I was shouting into the void. I felt like ‘No one’s probably ever gonna hear this, but this is my moment.’ That was a whole lifetime of ambition. It was certainly a time when I didn’t have to compromise to anything except myself, my own standards. I felt like it was my one and only chance to say what I had to say, at that point. I have these memories from childhood of backyard parties with old Italians playing accordion, and that was the kind of weird childhood I had but I felt like that was in my soul. I always wanted to capture that kind of a feeling, so that’s where that song [Devotchka] came from.”

On writing and recording a new DeVotchKa album:

“I wrote the whole thing during the pandemic. I’m really terrible about this. When it comes to recording my own songs I get a little bit precious about it, and I just haven’t found the right environment and place to do it yet. That is another curse of the Hollywood treadmill. You just keep getting pulled away from the projects you really want to work on, but it is written. One of my biggest problems is that I will get stuck on one line on a song, and that song won’t get finished for years and years.”

Listen to the full Mile High Stash interview with Nick Urata on your favorite streaming service. Or visit Mile High Stash for past episodes and more information on the show and host Adam Perry.

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