John Parish sings the praise of film music

Posted on Tue 26 Feb 2013
John Parish

Composer, producer, artist and collaborator John Parish is perhaps most well known for his acclaimed work with PJ Harvey, but he also has a long career writing and recording music for films. In advance of his Sunday Brunch selection of films starting this weekend and his talk on 9 March, John sat down to give a little taste of what's to come in a short video with our Head of Programme Mark Cosgrove.

Here's a taster of their discussion - find out a bit more about the influence film music has had on his work, his approach to composing films, and why exactly he chose the five films featured in our John Parish Selects Sunday Brunches.

From his work as part of Automatic Dlamini in the late 80s, his long working relationship with PJ Harvey (they met at the latter's 18th birthday party), to projects with the likes of the Eels, Giant Sand and Tracy Chapman and his solo material, John is an acclaimed and accomplished musician.

With a lifelong fascination with soundtracks, John is the perfect choice for the first focus of Filmic, our three month celebration of the connection between music and film presented in partnership with St George's.

"Growing up, film soundtracks had provided some of my favourite pieces of music - Morricone, John Barry of course, but also Wim Mertens, early John Carpenter, Nino Rota, many others. I could tell that all of these influences were buried in my own music, which I thought of as filmic long before I'd ever scored a movie. I love writing music as part of a visual collaboration, whether for film or stage, because you have the opportunity to use space, and stretch time, in ways that wouldn't necessarily work in a stand alone piece of music."

Parish has been composing film scores since 1998, and has enjoyed a long career writing and recording music for independent films, including Xiaolu Guo's award-winning debut She, A Chinese, and Ursula Meier's second feature Sister (which we will screen on Sun 31 March).

John selected four films which have proved hugely influential in his career for our March Sunday Brunches, which kick off this weekend with the psychological thriller Klute. In the short teaser above John expands on Michael Small's paranoid, "almost invisible" score, music that he almost didn't realise put him on edge until the second or third time he saw it, sat watching it on a plane, wearing headphones.

His selection of Sunday Brunches continue with Belly of an Architect ("a stylised score for a stylised movie"), Midnight Cowboy and Once Upon a Time in the West (both of which feature themes played on the harmonica, an instrument John thinks is great for films) and concludes with Sister, which features his own film music.

John will expand more on his experience of scoring for film, giving an insight into the creative process, at a rare talk here at Watershed on Sat 9 March. Ticket holders for the talk get £1.00 off all of his Sunday Brunches, so hold on to it to see the films for under a fiver.

Then also as part of Filmic, in April John will release Screenplay, a new album of his film music featuring work from Sister and more. You can hear him perform pieces from his film career in a special Filmic commission, the world premiere of Screenplay live featuring an ensemble, guests and projections at St George's on Thu 14 March - all for the special price of £10.