If you’re anything like us, you probably listen to music or watch films, pondering the vast amount of time put into the project and the blood, sweat and tears along with it… and think, “yeah I could make it better than that.”
It’s hard not to dive deep into the rabbit hole of endless artistic possibilities, where X kind of film starring Y actor would be pushing boundaries, or so-and-so rapper collabing with this singer would be fire.
A common area of discussion for the UTM team was what popular artist would be great at soundtracking a horror film?
After about 3 years of discussing this amongst ourselves, we’re finally putting finger to keyboard and revealing which artists we think would be great candidates to spook us with their music.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Okay so technically GY!BE have already soundtracked a horror film in part – 28 Days Later director Danny Boyle likes to have an album already in his head while filming and it just so happened that for this film it was GY!BE’s F♯ A♯ ∞.
He actually managed to fit a part of ‘East Hastings’ into 28 Days Later, but that’s not what we want, is it?!
We want full-blown, post-apocalyptic, Lynchian nightmare visuals accompanied by extended, unsuspecting pianissimo movements that morph into ravenous pant-shitting explosions of dissonance!
Preferably, the best artist to soundtrack a horror would be nobody – horror is at its best when the score is left behind and tension is created via diegetic spookiness. However, one artist whose music is the perfect haunted house of frightening sounds and intense structures is Arca.
Unlike his latest project, Arca’s debut, Xen, hints at the potential to soundtrack an abstract horror flick. Xen is absolutely chilling, with ‘Family Voilence’s discordant violins reminiscent of a Psycho-esque, excessive murder scene and ‘Bullet Chained’ opens with the roar of machinery noise that would be perfectly place in a grey industrial environment.
Arca’s human skin-focused imagery is often twisted and confrontational. ‘Xen’ boast a music video that confirms this with seizureish flashing lights and unsettling contortions of the human body. Someone need to produce a weird ass horror film for Arca’s weird ass music.
Yasutaka Nakata/Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
Underneath an exterior composed of all things kawaii, Japan’s most imaginative pop icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu harbours a deep infatuation for all that is sinister. Whilst her visuals see the saccharine sensation partake in the kindly acts of befriending polar bears and hosting dinner parties, she also uses them as a vessel to indulge in frightful fantasies that include biting people’s heads off under the illusion that they’re cupcakes and putting babies into stew pots. The line between cute and creepy is unquestionably a fine one to tread – and Pamyu gleefully teeters from one extreme to the other with an abandon not dissimilar from your classic horror psychopath.
Although Pamyu’s intensive creative direction could easily conjure up one of the zaniest horror spectacles you’ve ever witnessed, it’s Yasutaka Nakata – the virtuoso behind the composition of practically all of Pamyu’s songs thus far – who’d be tasked with putting together its terror-inducing soundtrack. His heavy utilisation of toy pianos, music boxes and glockenspiels often evoke feelings of childlike wonder, but it only takes the added visual element of an abandoned amusement park or the piercing gaze of a slightly askew doll with a shoddy paint job for the innocent connotations of these instruments to be warped beyond recognition. At least with a musician who’s as proficient at making pop music as Nakata behind the score, there’s the off chance you’ll be bopping your head and softly sobbing “that’s a jam” between shrieks of peril.
Lil Ugly Mane
Lil Ugly Mane is an anomaly in the rap game, if Raider Klan had been a boyband – he would have been the mysterious one who really liked noise music and darkly insightful socio-political commentary. Whilst man like Denzel Curry got a little less weird and left Raider Klan to go on to much bigger things, Lil Ugly Mane set about creating music to make you feel uneasy, and completely ambiguous about your existence as a human.
Lil Ugly Mane’s tapes have touched upon so many weird and wonderful musical avenues (just listen to volumes 1 and 2 of Three Sided Tape), and always have something darkly evocative to say. Be it the Lynchian commentary on Western Civilization exhibited on his final project Oblivion Access, or the brutal (and sometimes tearjerking) honesty of this year’s Flick Your Tongue Against your teeth and describe the Present – under his new moniker of Bedwetter – Lil Ugly Mane is the kind of guy you’d want soundtracking your weirdass horror film.
However, it’s not necessarily the dissonant, black metal and noise-fuelled soundscapes behind which he spits that lend Lil Ugly Mane’s music to horror so well. It’s his Fox Mulder on crack-esque lyricism, pockmarked with aforementioned socio-political commentary and ultraviolent imagery which perfectly sum up the fine line between meaningful symbolism and unwatchable crudity the horror genre has always straddled.
p.s. you can buy the entirety of Lil Ugly Mane’s discography on Bandcamp right now for ten dollars: Do it.
Oneohtrix Point Never
Having already dabbled in soundtrack work for a number of movies already, Oneohtrix Point Never is the perfect candidate to score a horror movie on experience alone. Sure, the films he’s scored thus far aren’t exactly horror, but the sounds he provides to the images on screen would certainly lend themselves well to some challenging genre film.
His droning earlier work, in particular, just begs to be placed under grounded sci-fi horror akin to John Carpenter’s The Thing. His more recent mix of unnerving sounds and pop melodies would make a great soundtrack to something a bit pulpier, too. However you look at it, though, he’s got it in him to make a classic score for a modern horror.