MagazineDecember 2010Ski Film Family

Ski Film Family

Father and son team provide the sounds for Warren Miller

When it comes to indulging in ski porn, if the music sucks a snowball, it doesn’t matter how good the action is. Kim Schneider knows this. He’s edited stick flicks for ski film bard Warren Miller for 32 years. His job entails matching the right tunes with the adrenaline orgy of big-air jumps and jaw-dropping vertical lines. Since Miller has released a film every year for the past six decades, Schneider’s work is never done.

“I don’t listen to music for pleasure anymore,” he says. “It’s always about the ski movie.”

Gogol Bordello appears on the Wintervention soundtrack.

Fortunately, now he has a partner in sonic search—his 27-year-old son Travis, who’s been surrounded by ski footage since birth. Growing up, Travis’ chores didn’t include yard work or house cleaning. He was paid to find dad songs—$5 if it made the editing table and $25 if a track made the film.

“He grew up sitting in my lap, watching me edit ski films, so he always knew what I was looking for,” Kim says of his son.

Even as a young adult, Travis kept sending Kim songs he thought would work, so five years ago he was hired as Warren Miller Entertainment’s music supervisor.

“It’s amazing how much the music shapes each sequence,” says Travis. “I’m collecting songs all year long. I have a constant playlist that I keep building. When you hear a song that will drive a segment, you just know it.”

This fall Miller released his 61st film, Wintervention, which takes a Jonny Moseley-narrated tour through big mountain scenes around the globe—from Vail and Telluride to New Zealand, Norway, and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Much like the vast smattering of locales, the Schneiders took the soundtrack in diverse directions. Travis sent Kim around 200 songs by the time he was ready to overlay music on footage, and 50 made the cut for the official soundtrack.

In the past few years, the duo has made a conscious effort to move away from cliché action sports noise—mainly the brain-burning agro nu-metal rap that ran rampant on radio throughout the last decade. More opportunity has come with the music industry’s changing landscape. Major labels are becoming dinosaurs, and the Internet continues to level the playing field for independent bands. It’s made things easier for Kim, who remembers the days of combing record store aisles in order to fill the soundtrack. He also counts on Travis’ young ear.

“If it wasn’t for Travis, we’d still be stuck in the ‘70s,” Kim says. “These days there are incredible amounts of undiscovered music. Technology has made the process a lot more refreshing, because you can easily try different things.”

For Wintervention, Travis initially went big and secured the rights to Radiohead’s “Reckoner,” as well as a track from the John Paul Jones-lead super group Them Crooked Vultures. He then added a range of indie upstarts like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Deerhoof, Gogol Bordello, and Sleigh Bells. He also nodded to artists of yesteryear with three tracks from Devo and Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode. It’s a mix that would actually make a discerning music fan’s iPod.

“This time we went all over the map,” says Travis. “There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. Whether it’s a mellow or heavy song, it has to have a certain energy that makes you feel something.”

Check out the diverse mix from Warren Miller’s latest.

“Carries On”
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Get transcendent on long backcountry slogs with hauntingly beautiful vocals from hipster shaman Alex Ebert while his merry ensemble of trippy folksters deliver a mellow groove and cosmic choir-like harmonies.

“Trans-Continental Hustle”
Gogol Bordello
The title track of the raucous gypsy punk outfit’s latest album appropriately anchors scenes from Ghadari in Georgia.

Devo gets back to business on the dance-inducing lead track of their first album in 20 years (Something for Everybody). It would almost be embarrassing self-parody, if it weren’t so good.


Remix master Ki:Theory (aka Joel Burleson) drops a glitchy groove with explosive beats that were made for terrain park adrenaline.

Powder surfing to Thom Yorke’s mind-bending falsetto melding with the band’s ethereal melodies could be called a religious experience.

“New Fang”
Them Crooked Vultures
The super group featuring Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, and the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl revives the straight-ahead muscle and adept rhythmic shifts of the power trio. It fits perfectly with Chris Davenport heli-skiing in Alaska.

Places to Go, Things to See: