Other Film Scores
Alex's other film scores include Tracy, the first feature film by director Dan Scanlon (Monsters University); the Annie Award-winning Ratatouille DVD Short, Your Friend the Rat (dir. Jim Capobianco); and Snow Day (dir. Erica Milsom, 2014). Alex also contributed a song to Moom (dir. Dice Tsutsumi, 2016).
Bands & Solo Work
Like many of his favorite film composers (Jon Brion, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer), Alex learned a lot from playing in rock bands from age 12 years old. In high school, his band played clubs in San Francisco, but would wait outside till showtime in the fog, since they were underage.
After Oberlin College (where Alex studied Jazz, composition & world music), he formed The Fingers, a cello-driven rock quartet, who released three albums of his songs, including Dig Spaces (2000) recorded at Skywalker Sound, and performed with groups such as The Mother Hips, Train & Sugar Ray at venues such as The Fillmore & The Viper Room. The Fingers were known for glowing reviews in the local press ("There's no better launching pad than Alex Mandel's works of popsmithery" - San Francisco Guardian). He later tapped FIngers bassist Tim Frick to join the Snap Judgment band. Several songs were licensed for TV shows, including Everwood.
His next album of original songs was an acoustic trio called The Echo Falls, with percussionist David Brandt and bassist David Arend. Once again, Mandel received praise from the press ("The 11 songs on this album are all acoustic gems, graced with exquisitely subtle instrumentation and Mandel's soft tenor." David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle). The album was featured on KQED's popular The Do List on Friday morning at 8:30am. Many Pixar directors heard this review, which led to opportunities to write for Pixar projects. It has received over 400,000 spins to date.
In 2016, Alex released his first solo album, funded by a Kickstarter campaign. With guest appearances from Julie Fowlis (Brave), John McCusker (Mark Knopfler), and David Brandt, As Long As We Breathe featured the acoustic style from his previous album, rock from The Fingers era, and more. Two songs were played regularly on KFOG's legendary Acoustic Sunrise for over a year, "Way to Go" and "The Road (a duet with Julie Fowlis).
Directed by Anthony Lucero
"Helping Hand" 360 Video
When Alex finished his first solo album, "As Long As We Breathe", Director Anthony Lucero (East Side Sushi) offered to make a 360/VR video. Watch Alex explore the San Francisco Bay Area, from the Golden Gate Bridge, to the legendary Grand Lake Theater in Oakland.
SCORING STORIES: NPR's SNAP JUDGMENT LIVE
When Glynn Washington started his show Snap Judgment on NPR, he asked Alex to be composer & musical director for the live shows. Working with Glynn, bassist Tim Frick and Drummer David Brandt, Alex developed a fresh approach that blended live scoring and the energy of a live rock 'n roll band. Six years later, Snap Live was selling out the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Oakland's Paramount Theater. The show airs weekly around the world, and is downloaded 2 million times a month.
Scoring "EAST SIDE SUSHI"
Alex was deeply moved by a rough cut of Anthony Lucero's "East Side Sushi". He loved it so much, he offered his composer fee to hire eight string players. When song rights were too expensive, he wrote & produced a song, "Amar de Nuevo", beautifully sung by Cava. He enlisted David Brandt (Snap Judgment, The Echo Falls) to add percussion.
The film went on to win 12 awards at film festivals (Audience Choice) before being picked up by HBO, Samuel Goldwyn, and making top 10 box office in Mexico. It was selected by the Obama State Department to encourage cultural exchange, and Anthony and Alex attended Q&As across Japan in 2017. With a 94% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it continues to charm audiences worldwide.
WRITING SONGS FOR BRAVE
When Pixar director Mark Andrews asked Alex to write two temporary songs for Brave, he was happy to oblige. Both songs, "Into the Open Air" and "Touch the Sky" wound up in the final movie, with Mark co-writing the lyrics for the latter.
Brave went on to gross $550 Million & win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2013. "Touch the Sky" has become the most popular song in Pixar's history.
What's more, "Touch the Sky" has joined the canon of Disney songs, with over 100 million plays on YouTube, and is featured regularly at Disney Parks worldwide (watch here). It is also a favorite among school choirs around the world. Scottish Singer Julie Fowlis guested on Alex's solo album.
"Touch the Sky"
Alex's song defines Merida's desire for freedom at the start of Pixar's Academy Award-winning Brave (dir. Mark Andrews, 2012). Performed by Julie Fowlis. Music: Alex Mandel, Lyrics: Alex & Mark Andrews.
"Into the Open Air"
Alex's song (and guitar) are featured in a touching scene between Merida and her mother. Performed by Julie Fowlis with Alex on guitar.
composer / songwriter / musician
Alex Mandel Music
Welcome to the website of Alex Mandel. Songwriter for Pixar's Academy Award-winning Brave; Film Composer (East Side Sushi, Your Friend the Rat, Snow Day); Musical Director (NPRs Snap Judgment Live); and singer-songwriter (The Echo Falls, Alex Mandel).