SuperCool Cinema

More Than Just Film

Interview: JayetAl

JayetAl performed their La jetée soundtrack at our time travel spectacular on 22nd November 2012.  We asked questions first.

You don’t need a flux capacitor to prove that time travel scrambles the mind quite like nothing else.  Journey at a more leisurely pace and you’ll still find yourself bamboozled by time’s habit of alternating from a steady drip-drip-drip to full-on gush with little or no warning. Take yesterday, I sat down to write this introduction and struck me like a wet carp that it was January 2007 when JayetAl released their acclaimed and completely ace début album ‘Where No City Lights’. I scrabble for today’s date trying to ignore mortality’s icy breath…9th November….no, the year…WHAT YEAR IS THIS? It’s still 2012? I thought it was 2013 at least. Reality starts bleeding through and the key events of the intervening years shuffle apologetically across my mind. Not exactly seventy months worth but still.

At least JayetAl have kept themselves plenty busy during this time, maintaining their status as a scintillating live experience with tours and festival appearances, as well as the whopping undertaking of writing and recording their second album. And there’s been the time travel side project. They first performed their live soundtrack to La jetée (1962), Chris Marker’s 28 minute Möbius strip of love and death, at the last night of the 2011 Winchester Film Festival, the very event at which SuperCool Cinema was drunkenly conceived.  They’ve performed it a handful of times since (here’s a review from last November) and have just completed recording a studio version in time to sell a strictly limited number of copies at our event on November 22nd. To celebrate all of this, SuperCool Cinema fired off some questions to JayetAl and received a super set of answers, including an announcement guaranteed to have fans drooling in anticipation.

JayetAl performing their La jetée soundtrack at the 2011 Winchester Film Festival.  Photo by Peter Todd.

Prior to La jetée, had cinema been an influence on JayetAl?
Yes. In our performances we want to transport ourselves and the audience to different environments of space and time, in much the same way a film might. In our experience the processes of creating film and recording music are incredibly alike. We have studied cinema, but as film fans we’re populist with art- house and world cinema leanings.

Do you think its fair to say your music is cinematic?
Yes. Whenever you remove lyrics or discernible human voices from a piece of music, the listener is invited to engage in a different way. That can involve investing certain narrative or emotional values in the music, which is where cinematic connotations are often evoked.

Do you have favourite movie soundtracks (of original music) which you can happily listen to on their own?
We do listen to a lot of film soundtrack music, but it’s all a bit traditional and we listen more by artist than whole albums: We like John Williams, Howard Shore, Thomas Newman, Wendy Carlos, Bernard Herman, Enno Moricone and David Lynch.

How did you come to write a new soundtrack for La jetée?
The folks who were running The Winchester Film Festival were interested in having live soundtrack performances in 2011. One of us had seen La jetée and loved it, the other saw it for the first time when we started looking for films to do. We could have chosen to do any number of films with a soundtrack that sounded a lot like our live shows, but the thing about creating a soundtrack for a film is that it creates a rulebook. What we really wanted was a film that would force us to create something fresh and unusual and challenge us in the process.

You get to know films pretty intimately when you soundtrack them, approximately how many times have you watched La jetée?
It’s definitely in the hundreds at this point and we still absolutely love it.

Have you developed any outlandish theories regarding deeper meanings or found coded messages to races of extraterrestrial cat-people?
You’re talking about the eyes, aren’t you?

These eyes?  Chris Marker’s signature cat shot from La jetée.

Has working with La jetée changed the band’s creative process?
Yes and no. When we started work on it, we were already changing the way we work. Like George Lucas before us, we feel that over the last couple of years the technology available has finally ‘caught up with’ our creation and production vision and processes, meaning we are able to do more on our own. We’ve planned to do film soundtracks since before we were JayetAl, so this was a good opportunity to test ourselves.

At what point did you decide to move away from your usual live set-up for this project?
From the start. There are several reasons: it’s technically easier to perform without the live drums and the ensuing monitor issues, click tracks, levels etc, but mainly it’s because the live drums of our usual performances provide a spectacle that isn’t suitable for a film screening. We’re trying to enhance the audience’s immersion in the film, not keep yanking them out of it. Finally, the music opened up the opportunity for using instruments live that we wouldn’t normally have considered.

Did recording a studio version of your soundtrack hold any creative surprises?
Not really but we were able to embellish certain aspects of the live performance in the studio that hopefully the recording benefits from.

If you could time-travel backwards and claim the credit for one thing (an event, a book, a film, quote, song) what would it be?
Charlie Chaplin’s speech from the end of The Great Dictator

What are your top 3 time-travel films/tv shows?
That is a difficult question. We’d say that this double bill features two contenders, so apart of them: Primer, The City on the Edge of Forever episode of 60s Star Trek and Twelve Monkeys.

In six words or less, share your feelings on the other half of our double-bill, The Terminator.
Classic brutal sci-fi robot time travel

By most accounts, James Cameron is a bit of a tyrant on set. If this is the case, do you think his films justify being a dick?
Maybe… he does seem happiest by himself in a tiny submarine, miles under the ocean.

Lastly, share something awesome with us from the world of JayetAl.
Our new album ‘life within lost transmissions’ will be out early 2013 and we’ll be on tour too.

Thank you!
No, thank you.

You can keep up to date with JayetAl’s comings and goings through their website, and on facebook, twitter and soundcloud.

Here is a tiny taster of their La jetée soundtrack, recorded at the 2011 Winchester Film Festival.

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