Daniel Lopatin on live-scoring his favourite sci-fi Manga film on a massive telescope in Chesire
Experimenting with sparse waves of angelic synths, clashing celestial loops and a certain cinematic atmosphere that’s equal measures eerie, delicate and nostalgic – Oneohtrix Point Never’s music was always going to be destined for placement in a full-length film feature sooner or later. In 2013, he first ventured into the world of film soundtracks when he co-scored scenes of forlorn regret after celebrity house-raidings and coked-up stolen car rides in Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of The Bling Ring with Brian Reitzell – who has helped score almost all of Coppola’s films. Having used a still from George Schwizgebel’s animated short Le Ravissement de Frank. N Stein as the cover for his latest album, R Plus Seven, it comes as little surprise that his next opportunity to sonically present a project is for the acclaimed anime director of Akira – Koji Morimoto. He has been given the opportunity by Abandon Normal Devices to take the original audio from the first part of Moromoto’s 1995 Memories Trilogy, Magnetic Rose, and use that to inform his own live score. The location is even more stiking – he will perform it in rural Chesire, at the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy-referenced Jodrell Bank Observatory, one of the country’s largest and most epic space-pointing satellite dishes. Here, Dazed talks to Daniel Lopatin ahead of the special presentation about his relationship with science fiction, Japanese video game music and where he’s at with the follow up to his Warp debut.
What drew you into Koji Morimoto’s work?
Daniel Lopatin: Many things. It’s visually super inventive and incredibly surreal – combining layers of what the characters experience as holographic illusions with the desolation of this mangled space station. And yet the lessons of it are human and straight forward and perfectly tragic. The narrative itself feels magnetic in that, from the moment it begins, the characters implicated by it are sucked into a tragedy that seems impossible to avoid.
How did you get involved with the sonic presentation of Magnetic Rose?
Daniel Lopatin: When I was in London last I spoke with Abandon Normal Devices about the possibility of performing a live re-score of a film for their festival. The only requirement was that the film have an cosmological bent. Magnetic Rose is that, but much much more and it's one of my favorite films, period, so I'm happy it came together. I was especially excited about the potential of working with audio from the film itself and using that as a jumping off point for musical embellishment, structure etc. New determinacy from old determinacy is one way of thinking about it. Homaging Kanno to a point was very important to me.
You're performing the score in an astronomical observatory (Jodrell Bank), are there any other less conventional locations you want to play at?
Daniel Lopatin: I would love to perform in an Amangiri hotel somewhere. Just off to the side like a piano man, while people drink and eat.
In November, you’re in Tokyo for a night following RBMA’s Diggin’ In The Carts series that celebrates Japanese video game music, working with the sounds of bullet hells. Out of the different types of shoot ‘em up, what is it that draws you to bullet hells?
Daniel Lopatin: The visual chaos of bullet hell is just really alluring. And quite musical. It feels like certain musical approaches that seem like a good idea to take. So I feel like bullet hell has always helped me envision or speculate on a type of musical intensity and form that I wanted to achieve.
“Hearing the Metroid theme was probably the first time I got goosebumps from the music alone. It’s incredibly moving stuff” – Daniel Lopatin
When did your relationship with Japanese video game music begin?
Daniel Lopatin: Hearing the Metroid theme was probably the first time I got goosebumps from the music alone. It’s incredibly moving stuff.
You’ve been fascinated with Philip K. Dick as well as being into soundtrack music, has doing something in that realm always been a goal for you?
Daniel Lopatin: Yeah, I tend to tinker with things that I love. It’s habitual. Magnetic Rose and the bullet hell piece are totally different but they both rely on this idea of exploiting material that originates elsewhere and disabling the intent of work as its known in the world, and finding secret or new purposes for it.
You’ve said that despite your love for sci-fi, if you were able to pick a film to score, you would lean towards a psychological thriller. What is it that draws you towards films that focus on human psychology?
Daniel Lopatin: I think that synthesized music can support or even emulate the cryptic tone of thrillers better than an orchestra can, at this point. Thrillers rely on certain archetypes and our familiarity with them is quietly driving all of the tension. So it becomes an interesting challenge from the score perspective, to enhance that tension without being noticed, just like those archetypes. The contrast is good. Trent Reznor's work with David Fincher does that. Cliff Martinez too, although in a more conventional way.
If you had to recommend three pieces of science fiction, film or text, that you feel are hidden treasures, what would they be?
Daniel Lopatin: Anything by Stanislaw Lem. especially his fake reviews of books that don’t exist. Philip K Dick’s collected essays. And Schismatrix Plus.
You’re in the studio at the moment, does this mean you’re going to release the score for Magnetic Rose? Or have you started work on the follow-up to R Plus Seven?
Daniel Lopatin: I do, I’ve been working on it sporadically for a long time but this winter I hope to finish it. Magnetic Rose will be a time-based performance and at the moment, there’s no reason to think of it any other way.
Oneohtrix Point Never will perform his new score to Magnetic Rose for Abandon Normal Devices ‘Watch The Skies!’ at Jodrell Bank Observatory on Saturday 4 October, 2014 as part of the BFI Sci-Fi: Days of Fear & Wonder season.