Thom Yorke Discusses How the ‘Blade Runner’ Score Is Inspiring His Work for ‘Suspiria’

Flavorwire noted last month that Thom Yorke had signed on for his first film-scoring gig, following in the footsteps of Radiohead bandmate Jonny Greenwood. His first project of the sort is an exciting and daunting one — scoring a film that itself could be hugely awesome or a huge mistake: Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, starring Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, and Chloë Grace Moretz. Not only does the original film leave a towering horror legacy to live up to — its original score, by Goblin, does as well. As Pitchfork points out, Yorke recently spoke to BBC 6 Music about the undertaking, and said that “it’s absolutely terrifying.”

He continued:

It’s hard because I’m way out of my comfort zone, and I can’t read music so it’s not like I’m writing for orchestra. I’m building it all myself. In fact, I watched Blade Runner twice at the weekend. ‘Oh, that sound, I could do something like that, that’s quite easy. I’ll rip that bit off there and that bit there and I’ll be fine.’

(Jonny Greenwood does the musical notation for Radiohead, according to a New York Times piece from 2006 on Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser. “If someone lays the notes on a page in front of me, it’s meaningless,” Yorke told the Times. “Because to me you can’t express the rhythms properly like that. It’s a very ineffective way of doing it, so I’ve never really bothered picking it up.”)

Yorke further discussed the influence of the Blade Runner score, by Greek composer Vangelis — and particularly Vangelis’ atypical process:

Vangelis, it’s his hands that made that. Which encouraged me. Because that was the thing I was finding most daunting. Normally [scoring] a horror movie involves orchestras, these specific things. But Luca [Guadagnino], the director, and Walter [Fasano], the editor, are very much, like, find your own path with it. … I just have to find a way into it.

A.V. Club recently detailed the way Vangelis composed Blade Runner:

He watched edits of the film and composed music on the spot based on how they made him feel. As much as possible, he tried to honor these improvisations in the film’s final score, giving the result an emotional immediacy even as the images themselves might have been somewhat cold, moody scans over city streets and old apartment buildings.

Check out this video for more insight into what Vangelis’ score did for Blade Runner.