For the third episode of The Scores we had the pleasure of inviting music artist, DJ and movie score producer, Afrodeutsche, who delivered a very personal 1h32m of movie scores, soundtracks, film extracts and other cinema inspirations of hers.
We can feel her childhood memories but also her intimate relationship with the movie world through some of her references such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Jerk, Overboard and Flight of the Navigator.
But those who know Afrodeutsche’s work can spot how influential movie scores have been in her own productions. From Hans Zimmer’s melancholic organ notes to Bernard Herrmann and Danny Elfman mesmerising strings as well as Moroder’s bouncy synth: we cannot help but notice how endless her influences are.
THE SCORES : What have you been doing lately?
AFRODEUTSCHE : I’ve been mostly working on my health actually meanly but also lots and lots of music. It’s been a huge learning curve for me! I just finished the soundtrack for this documentary called Destiny on the main stage. I’ve been scoring that 1h32min of film. It’s about a community of strippers in Texas.
TS : What’s your method of working for a movie score?
A : When I’m working on documentaries I’ll watch without dialogue and without any audio. Usually they [the authors] will give me guide tracks they are inspired by. I’ll listen to those, to have a framework, but then I’ll watch each scene and go through it and figure out what I’m getting from it without any dialogue. Because I always find that with scoring, you’re translating a lot of different levels, you’re not necessarily translating what’s being said. You might be translating the landscape that they [the characters] are in. For example, sometimes the transition from day to night is not explicit and it needs to be translated into the score.
TS: But can you tell us a bit more about this documentary?
A : it’s called Destiny On The Main Stage. There is only one scene in the documentary where you see them working in the strip club. I wanted you to see them and hear them as they are: beautiful angelic, worthy, stunning humans. I wanted to lift them up and elevate them and show you who they really are. So, I decided to work on a classical piece because I wanted them to be ethereal and lifted. It’s full of harps and flutes and strings. It felt right and I started using my vocals a lot more! That was mostly abstract speech. I wanted the viewer to absorb those words.
TS : And how do you manage to balance the actual dialogue with the vocals?
A : That was difficult. I had to place them carefully in the film. Sometimes I watch the movie and I kind of improvise. But this time I had to make it outside. The words became more textures than lyrics through different pitch for example.
TS: You’ve been doing a lot of remixes lately. Do you feel that working on remixes and working on soundtracks is somehow a similar experience? In both cases inspired by someone’s piece to create yours?
A : I think the pandemic meant that there was more opportunity for me to be working on these. When there wasn’t a pandemic, I was touring. I wasn’t in the studio, I wasn’t sat in front of my gear, I had barely any time to put sets together. (shows her studio) I had been away from this for so long, everything here is ready to go and record and do things…
So, about the remixes… Everything I approach is emotional. I don’t know any other way of working. And I just saw them as opportunities to be honest. (pause) Music is really important. We know this. And not only to listen to: It changes atmospheres, changes how we feel. It lifts us or it can take us down. It transcends us into another time or place.
So yeah, translating other peoples’ narratives is where I feel great. And therefore, I believe I’m good at it. I guess it was like sharpening my tools. Refining what was already there but more like a crash course!
TS: I feel like there are two approaches to scoring: One that accompanies the movie and the narrative in an almost unnoticed way and one that is more present intervenes into the story as a new character.
What do you think constitutes a good soundtrack? What approach would you use?
A : For me it’s always a combination of the two. And what I’ve learn now is that you need a really good relationship with the mixing engineer. Audibly it might not be a direct kind of piece of music, but it might be a sound. I like to straddle two areas where you need to understand what needs to be heard and you also need to understand how to lift and emphasise the dialogue with the audio. So, the mixing engineer is a particularly important person at this point because he’s the one that is going to work on a balance between the two approaches.
So, it [a good soundtrack] must be all those things. When you’re writing your music piece for a movie, you have to respect the movie director, producer and all of the work and the thought and the process in creating this piece of work. You cannot overpower it. But you can’t sit so beneath it that it doesn’t help these things [the two approaches].
For me films and soundtracks, they are the same thing. Of course, there can be a soundtrack without a movie and a film without a soundtrack. But at the end, when those two meet, it’s power power power. For me that’s the definition of film: when sound and image meet.
They are so many stages of scoring. Also, emotionally: when you’re scoring a film, you get emotionally involved with the film. Then you need to be detached from it so you can work on it. Then you go through this process where you start dreaming about it, or hearing things while you’re cooking, having to make notes on a random moment… Once you go through that process, that is all- consuming, you then must translate all those things that you’ve come up with. Then it moves into the technical and the technical again. By the end of all this process… ouf! It’s like having a very quick relationship. (Laughs)
TS : Why quick?
A: Well although a film has a very specific time frame, relatively it’s been months and months. And it’s been sleep and sleepless nights. It feels really quick, but it also feels like you’ve been having a relationship. Like you’ve been talking to this person for months. You work with it for weeks then next!
♪ L’ETRANGE DR PERSONN – CARVELLI
♪ SPOOKY DOO – DICK WALTER
Les Lèvres Rouges by Harry Kümel
♪ LES DUNES D’OSTENDE – FRANÇOIS DE ROUBAIX
Raiders of the Lost Ark by Steven Spielberg
♪ MARION’S THEME – JOHN WILLIAMS
The Jerk by Carl Reiner
♪ YOU BELONG TO ME – THE JERK
Vertigo by A. Hitchcock
♪ CARLOTTA’S PORTRAIT – BERNARD HERRMANN
♪ LA POLIZIA STA A GUARDARE – STELVIO CIPRIANI
Interstellar by Christopher Nolan
♪ S.T.A.Y. – HANS ZIMMER
Blade Runner by Ridley Scott
♪ DECKARD ENTERS THE BRADBURY – VANGELIS
♪ MISTY CANYON – SVEN LIBAEK
♪ FILMMUZIEK-2:BEKAERT(1966)(REV.1996) – DICK RAAIJMAKERS
Furyo (Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence) by Nagisa Ōshima
♪ MERRY CHRISTMAS MR LAWRENCE – RYUICHI SAKAMOTO TRIO
♪ THEME FROM DON – BOMBAY THE HARD WAY
Batman Returns by Tim Burton
♪ SELINA TRANSFORMS (II) – DANNY ELFMAN
The Sweeney by Nick Love
♪ CONDITION RED – BARRY STOLLER
Overboard by Garry Marshall
♪ OVERBOARD MAIN TITLES – ALAN SILVESTRI
The Professional by Georges Lautner
♪ CHI MAI – ENNIO MORRICONE
Airwolf by Donald Bellisario
♪ EXTENDED AERIAL MAIN THEME – SYLVESTER LEVAY
Flight of the Navigator by Randal Kleiser
♪ ROBOT ROMP – ALAN SILVESTRI
♪ THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND – PETER NERO
Vertigo by A. Hitchcock
♪ VERTIGO THEME – BERNARD HERRMANN
Out Of Africa by Sydney Pollack
♪ OUT OF AFRICA – JOHN BARRY
Raiders of the Lost Ark Soundtrack by Steven Spielberg
♪ THE WAREHOUSE – JOHN WILLIAMS
♪ WHAT ARE YOU DOING THE REST OF YOUR LIFE – CAL TJADER
Under the Skin by Jonathan Glazer
♪ LOVE – MICA LEVI
♪ THE BIG ISSUE – THE BLACK DOG
♪ A MEASURED ROOM – BRIAN ENO
Midnight Express by Alan Parker
♪ MIDNIGHT EXPRESS THEME – GIORGIO MORODER
Blade Runner by Ridley Scott
♪ BLADE RUNNER END TITLES – VANGELIS
The Scores is a project produced by 254NOW and curated by Liyo Gong & Alex Sourbis