Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Specialty Box Office: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Primes HBO Pump, Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' Is Spotty Specialty Box Office: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Primes HBO Pump, Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' Is Spotty Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Mica Levi on Why Composing 'Under the Skin' Was "Really Mental"

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! November 10, 2014 at 11:55AM

You won't hear a more gorgeously freaky score this year than Mica Levi's unnerving, scratchy and seductive music for Jonathan Glazer's 'Under the Skin,' now the winner of a European Film Award.
1
'Under the Skin'
'Under the Skin'

Cymbals are part of her character and part of her world, and those are the energies of her world and the warmth of her planet. The mixture of cymbals in this fast string-playing that happens in the beginning and throughout is the alien life form. Then there's this note that starts to establish itself, and that's her connecting, her manual process. And then there's this love music, as she's breaking through her humanity, based on this synth string chord I held onto for a long time. You're starting with these darker chords, with the hunger and everything like that, and ending up at this very pure, very simple kind of chord. So the five themes are: her makeup, the cosmos, the aliens, her job music, and her feelings.


Who is Scarlett Johansson's character, and how does the music work to convey information about her?

She's just doing her job, from my perspective. She's hungry. She's after something. She's got a craving of sorts. She's on the hunt but then she gets affected by humanity and, for me, the feelings and experiences, these rushes of emotion, the measures she takes [because of them] are so extreme, in my mind. She's basically putting her species at risk. She takes a move to risk her people on the basis that she's having these really big feelings and for me the only thing I could relate that to was being a teenager. You have these overwhelming emotional experiences, and take risks that as you get older you maybe don't take, but there are those rushes of feeling that cause you to take such actions, like her love, ecstasy, euphoria.

What's different about writing music for a film? Is it like writing for another person?

The way we were working, it wasn't like it was being done for a person: it was done so that the work could be as good as possible and consistent, and that's basically the same whenever you're working. You just want to service the work. I suppose it's not as abstract, but I was guided was to be really abstract and to write what was the right thing. I found it less restrictive, in a way. You're working within style's limitations and with this, the film was pretty open.

Was there any music Jonathan Glazer asked you to hear to get a sense of what he wanted?

He wasn't specific like that. He's weary of being specific like that. He talked about the music working separate from the film. He showed me some films he really loves. But that would've been too short a process. It would have been too restrictive, and to find the film's tone you have to look at it from three different angles and the answer would come out through that. He spoke about it more like, "imagine somebody just chucked 20 bottles down a hill," or, "what does it sound like to be on fire?" Those are the questions that were getting asked…That's the sort of way to get to the right answers as opposed to using a rarefied version of that. 



This article is related to: Under the Skin, Jonathan Glazer, Interviews, Interviews , Mica Levi, Awards, European Film Awards, Awards Season Roundup


E-Mail Updates