Signing on to do his first ever feature film soundtrack wasn’t an easy decision for musician Thom Yorke.
The Radiohead frontman knew he had big shoes to fill when Luca Guadagnino approached him to write the score for his remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 film Suspiria, which features one of the most critically acclaimed horror soundtracks of all time, by the Italian rock group Goblin.
“I referred to the original Suspiria film. It was an odd process from the beginning. When they first came to see me, the producers and [editor] Walter [Fasano], I just thought they were mad, because I’ve never done a soundtrack before,” said Yorke ahead of the film’s world premiere in Venice. “And Suspiria is one of those legendary soundtracks. It took a few months to even contemplate the idea.”
Guadagnino persisted. He knew Yorke was his man, whom he saw as the voice of his generation. And after months of asking, Yorke relented.
“It was one of those moments in your life where you want to run away, but you know you’ll regret it if you do,” said Yorke. “I watched the original film several times, and I loved it because it was of that time, an incredibly intense soundtrack. Obviously Goblin and Dario worked incredibly closely when they did it together.
“But it was of its time and there was no way I could reference it in any way,” he continued, until he found his way into the magic of the story. “There was no point, other than what I found interesting was they used repetition of motifs, again and again and again. Part of your mind was saying, ‘Please, I don’t want to hear this anymore.'
“That was really great,” Yorke explained. “There’s a way of repeating in music that can hypnotize. I kept thinking to myself that it’s a form of making spells.
“So when I was working in my studio I was making spells. I know it sounds really stupid, but that’s how I was thinking about it,” he continued. “It was a sort of freedom I’ve not had before. I’ve not worked in the format of song arrangement. I’m just exploring.
“I’m putting things out into my studio and seeing what my studio is bringing back. It was a sort of maybe a beginning launch of an idea," said Yorke, who then worked with Guadagnino, using the references of Berlin, 1977 and combining his own musical influences of the time period, including Krautrock, to come up with something really unique. “It was just a really cool way to totally immerse myself in an area I wouldn’t normally go with full permission.”
Devotees of Yorke can hear initial tracks in the official Suspiria teaser and trailer, as well as a potential surprise clip Yorke dropped on Twitter.
But the real treat comes in the theater, where audience members will hear original songs and vocals from Yorke himself as soon as the first frame is revealed. It’s an incredible collaboration that already has award pundits buzzing over a potential Yorke nomination, and fans hoping that this won’t be the last we see of his foray into the world of cinema.