Who would’ve thought it? The cult director of Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks is a secret electronic music fan who loves Au Revoir Simone and is releasing records on Sunday Best. Thought that was weird? Read on… 

Aside from Michael Caine, David Lynch is almost certainly the most legendary celluloid figure to ever appear in Mixmag. He’s the director of cult movies like ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Wild at Heart’ and also created/directed ‘Twin Peaks’, which pretty much heralded in a new era for spooky, out-there TV production (there’d be no ‘Lost’ or ‘True Blood’ without it). Of course, Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting, timeless theme music was taken by Moby and turned into one of the biggest dance records of all time, ‘Go!’ – gratifyingly, Lynch heard and loved that too.
 

And that’s where we come in. David Lynch, it transpires, is as focused on music as he is on movies and transcendental meditation. Yet for a man whose films are never less than dark masterpieces, his new single ‘Good Day Today’ is the precise opposite – indeed, when KCRW aired it in the US, it was mistaken for a new Underworld single! “Hearing the record and loving it immediately, going to meet David Lynch in a cafe in Paris to agree it all and now getting many of my musical heroes old and new to remix it - this whole thing has been like some surreal dream!” says Rob da Bank, who’s putting out the two tracks on his Sunday Best label. “I know there'll be some people reading who don't really know who David Lynch is. Check Twin Peaks, Eraserhead and Blue Velvet and introduce yourself to one of the most important filmmakers ever.”

Backed by the more malevolent ‘I Know’, Lynch’s tracks have been remixed by Skream, Sasha, Diskjokke, Basement Jaxx, Rob da Bank, Jon Hopkins and – funnily enough - long-term Lynch fans Underworld. If these two tracks catch fire, this could herald the start of a new career direction for David, who let’s not forget is 64 years old. 

Some musicians – Tori Amos and Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards among them – say that they don’t write songs of their own accord, it’s more that they’re a conductor or transmitter for the music itself. What do you make of this?

[Scarily long pause.] “Fully understood and agreed!”

And where do you think these melodies are being beamed from?

“Well, they say everything that is a thing comes from the unified field. Nobody knows anything until it enters the conscious mind. There are ways to get things to appear there and for an idea to start. It’s action and reaction and musicians are people who understand and are particularly sensitive to that.”

I’m trying to think of another director who makes music and I can’t think of one, certainly not electronica.

“Clint Eastwood makes music for every one of his films! Actually, I’ve been asked that question a bunch of times. If you do a bunch of things, you’re called a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. But everybody has a right [to explore] into any medium. And it’s so magical, there’s so much to explore and it’s such a thrill. You should never say never.”

Johnny Depp has this to say on the subject: “I approach my work like I approach guitar playing. Looking at a character is like looking at a song - it’s not a question of how many notes but what the notes express and what does a slight bend do.”

“You can look at anything from any angle and find similarities in the whole thing. In the old days, when you made a song, you’d print out the notes and it never sounded like the song. If someone has the feel or the intuition, that’s the trick and that’s where the magic is.”

Tell us about your musical upbringing?

“Well, I was alive when rock ‘n’ roll was born. They say r ‘n’ b, rockabilly and then these different forms merged and Elvis Presley popped out! Rock ‘n’ roll had a power that was very hard to top and it was a beautiful time. There was a lot of great music in the 50s and 60s – the Beatles, The Animals, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Ike and Tina Turner and all the girl groups. Music reflects the time and no matter what era it is, whether it’s the 30s, the 50s, the 80s or the 90s, if you listen you get a feel for that time. And it’s magical.” 

Did you play an instrument growing up?

“I played the trumpet – and I still play the trumpet! But my lip goes up for thirty seconds!”

Do you listen to much music on a day-to-day basis?

“I listen to it on the radio and I listen to [influential US rock radio station] KCRW and sometimes they play some really great things. And I like to listen to things on the internet. But I like to listen and not to do other things, so I can’t listen too much!”

Have you heard any artists of late who you’ve really liked?

“The last album I bought was by Lissie. I heard her on the radio and it jumped out as something greater than I’d been hearing. She had a live cover of Lady Gaga – ‘Bad Romance’, I listened to it and it completely floored me and I thought – this girl has got the stuff! And I liked the sound of the three of them together with Lissie out front. I also like Au Revoir Simone, three girls from Brooklyn. They’re terrific girls. Their music tells a story and the feel is important and they have a feel! I like so many things! I’m also working with a girl called Cristabelle. We’ve been working on an album for a while, it’s been several years in the making.”

From Kraftwerk to Daft Punk, dance music has long had an obsession with robots. Can you understand that conceit?

“Absolutely! Organic production is not a part of dance. It’s sounds that are man-made and it has to be in tune with that.”

Tell us how ‘Good Day Today’ came about.

“I was sitting outside and this tune came to me. I can read music but in this case I drew over the notes and went down to the studio with [musical collaborator] Dean. It took maybe 2 or three days to finally tweak it. Dean and I play modern blues so these things come out of jamming and finessing.” 

Does this feel like a funny career path for you?

“It’s not an accident but it is a happy accident. It gives you a feeling that nature suggested it.”

Can we expect more?

“I think there’ll be some more electronic things and some more blue-based things. I’m also working on a project called Thought Gang with Angelo Badalamenti.”

I heard that you particularly liked Jon Hopkins’ remix of ‘Good Day Today’?

“That guy’s really great! Jon’s remix of ‘I Know’ has got tremendous power and feel. I like the Underworld remix too.”
 
Tell us about a piece of music that really blew you away recently?

“My son’s a guitar player and on the way home from school he said he wanted to show me Pink Floyd – ‘Comfortably Numb’ so we watched that on YOUTUBE together. It doesn’t get much better.” 

Is there a message to be gleaned from ‘Good Day Today’?

“I just love music! It’s good if it feels good but it’s not a message thing.”

What would be your ultimate ambition for GDT? To know that it’s being played in a club?

“Yeah I think so! That people get the feel for it.”

Do you believe that music can change human consciousness?

“No, that’s kind of a myth – music doesn’t expand consciousness. In the 80s, there were consciousness-raising groups [trying to prove this] but consciousness is a specific thing, it’s life itself and if you want more of it, you have to dive in and experience it. “

Instead of signing to a major, you decided to sign your tracks to Sunday Best. What prompted that decision? 

“Well, I lived in England when I was working on The Elephant Man - I’m part English. And England and the US make the music that I love. Also, the English understand music, the kind I love anyway. Then Sunday Best came to us saying they wanted to prove that they could do it. Ben Turner and Rob da Bank have been great.”

You were always going to fit into the Sunday Best ethos – their favourite tag line is ‘increase the peace’.

“And we’re going to do that!”

 Photograph by Adam Bordow

Photograph by Adam Bordow

 

Originally published in Mixmag / February 2011