There’s a calmness to Mica Levi’s presence that is rarely found in Micachu & the Shapes’ frenetic, frazzled pop, crafted from self-made instruments and contorted voices. On this weekday afternoon in her south London home (a former bootmaker’s), life is slow, bright and spacious. “Writing music for something else isn’t something I’ve done before,” she says of her latest project, scoring Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. “That’s why they asked me, basically. I’m a novice.” It took ten months for Levi to whittle down masses of “fucked-up sound” to fit the scenes. “My direction was to follow Scarlett Johansson in the film, to try and identify with her character. The director was really adamant that everything was happening in real time.” Here, in her room above a pub on a peaceful street, everything happens in its own time too. The shelves are brimming with stories in the form of records, drawings and handmade mementos.
“Me and Kwes were gonna put a mixtape on to these but it’s a really nice collection of tapes – it’d be a shame to ruin them, so we didn’t do that in the end. I got them on the internet, but the guy wrote a message that said they meant a lot to him when he was growing up and he hoped they were going to a good home, so I couldn’t fuck them up.”
BRAND NEW ANCIENTS
“This play is incredible. I think it’s a masterpiece. It’s a story that takes place in south London about two families, but it’s based around loads of ancient Greek myths and Aesop’s fables. There’s a lot of tragedy and a lot of extremes. (Kate Tempest) says that stories in life about greed and about jealousy, about romantic love, are still present now and are the stuff of life. Everyone should read it.”
“I went to a party themed around the UK garage era, and they suggested we wear Burberry and Moschino and things like that. I was going to make a Burberry t-shirt with spray paint and felt tips, but – I was working on the film at the time – the nearest shop was American Apparel, and the t-shirts cost a fortune. So I went to where I got the spraypaint and just got a mask. I turned up to this thing wearing this mask and everyone was like, ‘What are you doing?’ Everyone was wearing really nice clothes, dressed as if it was 1996 or whatever. And I just turned up looking more like I was in Korn.”
“This one comes from a long time ago. I met this really old guy who used to be in the army. We both shared a real love for felt tips. I do a lot of drawings with felt tips – I like the print they make on the other side. We used to just spend a bit of time sitting together and drawing, and that’s one of the ones that he did.”
“This guy (Texas artist Eric Joseph Pouncie) gave this to the band after a gig. It’s a mouth. He makes them – it feels like it’s papier mache, but there’s layers and layers of it. Him and his wife like to make things in their spare time. I just think it’s funny. (places it upside down) It’s still a mouth, isn’t it? It exists.”
Under The Skin is available digitally now and on Blu-ray and DVD from July 14