FILMUSIK LATE NIGHT takes on 1950′s Japanese TV special with sound designer Heather Perkins
On September 9th and 10th, the Evil Brain is descending upon the Hollywood Theatre. His cobalt stalactite-fingers are menacing. His overstuffed crotch is disturbing. And his tendency to dance the cha-cha-cha during fight sequences is, well, just kind of adorable. The Evil Brain is set upon destroying the Earth, but first he’ll have to contend with Starman, the Japanese man of steel. Epic chase scenes, slapboxing matches and poorly edited teleportations abound in this pitched battle for the fate of the world.
The onscreen antics are nonstop, but at Filmusik’s adaptation of Starman vs. the Evil Brain from Space, the real action will be happening in the pit, where wunderkind sound designer and composer Heather Perkins will conjure up an electronic soundscape to redefine this classic film. Perkins has decades of experience crafting sound for projects of every stripe, and her work blurs the line between digital and analog, real and surreal, music and noise.
FILMUSIK LATE NIGHT: Starman – Attack of the Evil Brain from Outer Space
September 9th and 10th- 10pm
Hollywood Theatre – $12
More info and tickets at Filmusik.com
For this special performance, Perkins is pulling out all the stops. “I will be moving a version of my entire studio into the theater,” she says, “so I am basically building a huge new instrument with many heads, each with evil brains of their own.” As the film plays behind her, Perkins will work magic on her eclectic array of gadgetry – perhaps a Vocoder for the Evil Brain sound or some keyboard blips for gunbursts, and definitely a Waterphone to get the show started. A liquid-filled brass instrument, the Waterphone produces “a sound you have heard a million times maybe without knowing what it was,” Perkins explains. “It can sound evocative if played right, but one false move and it sounds truly screechingly awful. I’m not sure which outcome to hope for, honestly.”
HP – Once I did sound design for a pageant for the Winter Olympics, and it was huge. We had this giant bear that was going to come out on the ice, and they needed the sound of a bear catching a fish and slapping the water. That’s not in a sound library.
So here I am in my bathtub with all my microphones pointed into the tub and I’m hoping they don’t fall in. I’ve already fallen in. I’m splashing around. And that’s what ended up in the Winter Olympics pageant – me splashing around in my bathtub.
Perkins’ sonic wizardry will breathe new life into every haymaker, questionable costume choice and breathtakingly bad line of dialogue. Her expertly placed beeps and boops, whaps and thwaps might be just what Starman needs to finally defeat the Evil Brain. Don’t miss your chance to find out!
AN INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER PERKINS -
SOUND DESIGNER BEHIND “THE EVIL BRAIN
• Tell us about the coolest project you’ve been a part of.
Apart from the other time I’ve worked with Galen, and some great experiences working with Portland animator Rose Bond on some short films and indoor and outdoor video installations, I would have to say Electrogals, which is an electronic music festival featuring female composers that I started in 1995. It has continued to expand and grow, and it’s been really exciting for me. Producing the shows involves things that are not usually my forte, like having meetings, writing up grants and budgets, holding fundraisers, organizing other artists and writing tons of long emails. But it’s worth it. And I do get to play in the shows too, so that’s fun.
• What has been the most exciting part of putting this project together?
Well, I’m psyched to work with Galen again, and working to film is always exciting. I am trying not to allow the nerve-wracking aspect of playing a 78 minute score in real time get to me, but instead enjoy the blank canvas aspect of a project like this and the trust implicit in Galen giving me free rein. I can pretty much do anything! I will be moving a version of my entire studio into the theater, so I am basically building a huge new instrument with many heads, each with evil brains of their own. I decided to call it “The Hydra Approach.”
• The most challenging part?
Aside from moving all my stuff out of my studio and into the theater? Watching the movie. Not only is it sort of a long and comical good/bad movie which I have already watched multiple times, it’s also physically hard to watch the film while I’m playing. A lot of my gadgetry is sensitive to touch or proximity, so that requires me to pay attention to where my hands are, and it’s difficult to also see the screen. I am working on a through line sound guide that will keep me in synch, and hopefully we can get a big video monitor right in front of my face for the show!
• What sounds and experiences should audience members be most excited for?
The actual Evil Brain sound, which I am working on – possibly using a vocoder – and also the music for the fight sequences. And I will be playing the Waterphone live for the opening and closing credits, which is always exciting. It’s a sound you have heard a million times maybe without knowing what it was – I think the Waterphone is used in almost every horror film and TV show. It was featured prominently in “The X Files.” It’s an odd-looking brass instrument that contains water, and I play its tines with a violin bow – it can sound evocative if played right but one false move, and it sounds truly, screechingly awful. I’m not sure which outcome to hope for, honestly. I have a thirst for sonic danger.