The meshing of visuals and audio in Only God Forgives is vital to the film — what’s your working relationship with Winding Refn like?
It’s pretty collaborative. Nicolas was in Denmark all that time and I was in Los Angeles, so we had a lot of Skype conference calls where we talked about Only God Forgives quite a lot. He was very hands on for Drive, very hands on for Only God Forgives, but for The Neon Demon he took his foot off the gas. That’s what happen when you work together for three films. There’s a little bit of creative shorthand, and a little bit of ESP going on, so there was a bit less collaboration. But usually he’s very music centric, and talks a lot about music.
When did Thai karaoke songs in Only God Forgives get added?
Those came first. Initially Nicolas wanted to have iconic country and western songs like Johnny Cash and John Denver, and then when got a look at the price tag to licence those, he changed his mind. We saw the cost, and went, “Aw, we’re not interested”. But I did [the Thai karaoke songs] first, I did about five karaoke songs, only one of which actually got used in the film.
So what was the approach for The Neon Demon?
Nicolas described it as the first half is a melodrama, like Valley of the Dolls, kind of a little bit of exaggerated emotion, romantic; and the second half is a horror film, like Dario Argento or Texas Chain Saw Massacre. So they are the two things.
What were your influence on this one?Goblin [The legendary 70s Italian band famous for scoring horror movies with oppressive prog rock]?
Yeah. Nicholas and I have been talking about Goblin and Argento since Only God Forgives. John Carpetner a little bit. And again Kraftwerk, Moroder, Tangerine Dream.
The fashion world has always been very much tied up with the music world — did you attend any runways or fashion shows to find out what they ‘sound’ like?
I never got into character, so to speak. I don’t know what a fashion show sounds like, I guess I wasn’t that interested. There’s one runway scene in the film, and it’s so abstract I didn’t think there was a need for it to be anything like reality.