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Interview: Music Supervisor Dean Hurley Talks Twin Peaks

Interview: Music Supervisor Dean Hurley Talks Twin Peaks

By Laura Macfehin / Thursday 31st August, 2017 2:47PM

The worlds of David Lynch have always been deliberately sonic ones, and none more so than Twin Peaks—where the wind whispered to the douglas firs and there was always music in the air. The original soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti with the fey vocals of Julee Cruise kept the doors of the Double R Diner open all night for fans over the quarter century while Twin Peaks was off their screens. Now the portal has been re-opened, and Laura Macfehin speaks to music and sound supervisor Dean Hurley on how he helped Lynch re-enter the town famous for its cherry pie and secrets.

Hurley and Lynch have been musical collaborators since Lynch’s 2006 film Inland Empire, and Hurley is now the director of Lynch’s Asymmetrical Studio in Los Angeles. Two new soundtracks are due to be released by Rhino after the season finale on 8th September with all the acts that have appeared in the Roadhouse sequences (including NZ connected outfit The Veils) and Hurley has also released his own anthology of soundscapes created for the show. Listen to it below while you read our interview with Hurley..



LM: You are credited on the show as a ‘sound supervisor’ but your role on the shows seems to cover a lot of different jobs...

DH: Yeah [laughs].


I’d like to tease them out a little bit and talk about the different processes there…

Ah, yeah sure.


The amazing sound design that you’ve done for the programme … can you tell me about the process—did you work to picture or did you start making these things before filming started?

Well, I’ve been talking to David recently about that; some people have been kind of describing my role as sound design—and that term is really important to David and it’s why he is credited as the sound designer of the show and I think it’s been a little misunderstood. In his mind the idea of sound design is [that it’s] the role of someone who designs the entire soundtrack—music and sound and gets all the sonic elements in their place, and it’s exclusively him that’s doing that. What I’ve kind of considered myself as, in this particular [project] I’ve contributed a lot of ambient soundscapes and things like that that have woven themselves into the soundtrack and I’ve supervised the sound element of the show but when we talk about sound design it is definitely a role that only David can do in his own movies, you know what I mean?


Yeah it’s pretty central to his uh… I guess you can’t call it a vision when it is sound but … sound design has always been a strong sort of part of his filmmaking.

Yeah and it’s easy doing the job that I do because all the kind of archetypal roles for his kind of worlds have been set in place well before I’ve started working on this. So for me it’s just kind of fun to come in and work in that world a little bit and uh, you know, service as much as I can to David’s vision.

I think sometimes when I am doing things autonomously it’s just because the speed of the show is so fast that he’s saying “hey do we have this” and I’m thinking “oh shit, we don’t have this I better make something real quick!”.

I feel like David is always trying to get back to how he worked on Eraserhead—which is essentially doing all the roles largely himself, and you know with Eraserhead he worked editing a lot of the thing himself, and this one he did something similar where he had certain sequences that he wanted to focus on that only he could dictate the visual pacing and the flow and everything. He worked on a lot of things in final cut himself … and I would feed him a lot of music and sound stuff from our library and things that we had worked on over the years and just various experiments and he would find places for a lot of this stuff himself and we would weave it all together and I think that that was super engaging to him … again, he’s always trying to get back there and he’s very extremely hands on with it.


Yeah, I was going to ask about that— I’m interested in the elements that go into these sounds — did you do much recording of new sounds for this show?

Uh yeah—like everything under the sun! I mean the amazing thing about the soundtrack of the show you know, when we’re talking musically, is there was some stuff that has never been heard before, was actually recorded back in 1994, around Fire Walk With Me times, um there’s a track on the forthcoming soundtrack credited to Thought Gang— which if you remember the original Fire Walk With Me soundtrack had two Thought Gang tracks—Thought Gang being David and Angelo [Badalamenti]’s side project and there’s another on on this soundtrack — but like, they have a whole album of stuff that they worked on back in that period and they never released it, and it’s like a lot of time capsule kind of stuff happens.

And there’s another cue— The Chair which is an Angelo cue which was something that was done back in 1996 for a project that never materialised. And then there was a ton of new Angelo pieces that were recorded through ISDN— David and Angelo collaborating through the internet essentially so, you know there was stuff all over the map— new stuff, old stuff, stuff that was old that was never ever used—it was a really fun palette to work under because anything goes, and it is just a matter of what’s right.




I remember hearing about Badalamenti talking about working with David Lynch and describing the initial stages of their collaborations as Lynch bringing in 'firewood'...

Yup yup.


... so I was wondering—do you get your notes that way too— what sort of direction does he give you?

Yeah firewood—I’m glad you brought that up because—firewood is David’s word—it’s his buzzword for talking about building blocks and I think he thinks about a lot of this stuff as building blocks. You know— you go into constructing something and you need your pallets of wood, your brick and cement for foundations and all that stuff—so he sees this stuff as building blocks. And he’ll say, you know, things like— there’s going to be a lot of electricity in this show and we need a lot of you know, like arcing and sparking electricity; we need electrical firewood. And he’ll describe another kind of thing, and he’ll say we need these types of elements and you know, kind of make a list.

Much in the same way as when he’s working with Angelo— he sat down for some of those web based sessions and you know, he had a printed out sheet that had these buzzwords from the show like, you know—’russian beauty’, or um, ‘police’ or ah you know… I’m trying to think of some others… or like, ‘car accident’, he had these buzzwords like these things, these components that he knew he needed themes for and those ended up being the springboards with which he went into this collaboration… you know, he works a lot like— he just kind of teases things out of people you know what I mean?


Sure.

Like, he will throw you a word and say you know something like “this”, and you know if you start to do something that is completely in the wrong direction he’s gets so, ah, sour…


[laughter]


….that ah, it immediately forces you to go in another direction completely [laughs]. So you know it’s a lot of action/reaction – it’s like him hearing something, seeing something, reacting to it, and making adjustments.

But yeah there’s so many different ways that this stuff happens, because there’s times David will come up and you know play on a Korg synthesiser himself, and generate twenty minutes of stuff, and then he might just zero in on this one little phrase, that he repeats again and again and again and it becomes a theme and he kind of like teases out a moment that ends up scoring a scene.

So it’s a very non-traditional way of working, unlike the old school write-to-picture kind of thing, cos a lot of times I think, when anyone is writing … you know, when you are doing it without the influence of the image, it is more of a clear conduit in terms of capturing these things – and when you’re capturing it, right or wrong for what you’re thinking it’s for, you’ve captured it in a pure way. And then that allows you to later kind of throw it against the wall, or put it under a scene and you can find these juxtapositions that you never intended, or that if you were going at it kind of head on you wouldn’t have gotten to the same juxtaposition. There’s a reason I think he uses the word ‘experimentation’ all the time it’s because it’s an experiment and some of these experiments come together and the work becomes smarter and you could have missed [that] working on it in a different sort of way.


Yeah. Do you think there’s ah.. well you know people are talking now about whether there is going to be another season – do you think there is room for more experimentation within that universe?

Well, with ... ah [laughs]. I have no idea what the future holds with this, but I can tell you one thing, David is always going to be experimenting, it’s just a matter of if it ends up finding a form—like a television show, or a movie or whatever but you know, there are gaps between his films, in terms of time gaps. But the craziest thing— what has kept me employed full time for twelve years— is that he never stops experimenting. It’s just everyday. It’s like a religious practise you know— he just puts in the time and goes to the laboratory and finds these things so that when a project does happen, you know, these elements can kind of start flying together at lightning fast speed, making connections and in turn elevating his excitement and his passion. He’s always making stuff that’s the craziest thing and if, you know, he was just by himself he would be drawing or painting. There’s just always some outlet for him which is why, I guess everyone is eternally interested in what he’s working on [mutual laughter].


Well and that’s great news too if you are someone who has a job that you enjoy and it’s working for him!

Yeah, yeah, he’s a generous guy, and I’m trying to do my best to do my part—I know, there are a lot of fans who appreciate and want to be deep in that world so I’m just trying to do the best that I can do to facilitate whatever he’s got to give.


Laura Macfehin is one of the writers behind Eclectic Ladyland, which you can check out over here.


Links
eclecticladylandblog.wordpress.com/
deanhurley.bandcamp.com/

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