No Talent? No Problem! John Carpenter Talks About His Career In Soundtracks

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I am an utterly unrepentant John Carpenter fan. Yes, he has created his share of rubbish cinema, but you cannot deny the man who gave us The Thing, They Live, Mouth Of Madness, Escape From New York and Halloween. But the director is as well known for his soundtrack work, which have scored some of his most iconic films with heavy synthesizers and future sounds. Many even regard him as one of the pioneers and godfathers of electronic music.

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Vice’s Noisey conducted a nice interview with the industry icon. First, you might be glad to hear that Carpenter is not all that talented when it comes to musical instruments:

My father, unfortunately, decided that I should try the violin. The unfortunate part is that I had literally no talent. I was unable to play. It was a very sad, sad situation. So, violin, I played it for a bit. Then piano. Then I moved on to guitar, and just sort of tinkered around. But, my piano playing days are thankfully over.

He also reveals that he moved into making soundtracks not because he loves it, but because it was the cheap thing to do:

We had no money for a score. I was cheap. I was fast. I found somebody who had this very primitive set-up, extremely primitive. So, I recorded it there, and we had it. It was  oh, I don’t know how many weeks of work; I was brand new at it. I just went with through the sound, and how it applied to the movie.

Carpenter discusses how he approaches a soundtrack for a movie, though that can vary from film to film, and says a soundtrack is there to enhance what the audience sees:

I think the purpose of [soundtracks] is accentuating the story; accentuating what the viewer is watching on the screen. That is your whole job, to make that flow, and to make it better if you possibly can.

Other topics he discusses is soundtrack fatigue, his opinion on modern technologies, the revival of vinyl and people he has worked with. Carpenter has a special mention for the legendary Ennio Morricone, who scored The Thing:

The studio wouldn’t let me do the music myself. They never thought about, I never asked, and he was available. He is just an amazing composer. I loved it; he was a wonderful man. We didn’t speak the same language, so we had interpreters, but it was wonderful. He did a great job.

If you are unfamiliar with his work, here is a Youtube playlist someone compiled of Carpenter’s best film themes.

Last Updated: August 1, 2014

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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