Music built for film
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Smith Falls For Technology
And that was it. Smith went on to play in gospel choirs, until one of the choirs he played for bought him a synthesizer. It was an old Roland which had these little preset tabs. It was in the early days and the Rolands were almost like synthesizers that home organists would put on top of the organ, he explains.
I fell in love, and since then, Ive always loved technology, admits Smith. I was a sad hi-fi buff as a young boy, pawing through magazines, dreaming of being able to afford that loud speaker, you know, I didnt know what it would do, but I wanted one anyway! And that was it, once I discovered synths.
Hooking Up With Karl
Smith went on to study electronics in college, hoping to learn how to build synthesizers. But it was a disastrous choice, he says, because there was no practical work at all, it was all high-level math, and I despised it really. At the same time, New Wave was at its peak in the UK, in the very early 80s and I loved that so much, he says. Then I discovered Kraftwerk, and about then everything started getting clearer for me.
My best friend was in a band with Karl, and their keyboard player was really disastrous, not turning up, and turning up drunk and that sort of thing, so Stuart said, I know somebody. So I joined their band for a year. I flunked my university class, left and said This is the best band in Cardiff, its all kicking off, its so amazing... And then, of course, I was so disillusioned after about a month, going What have I done?! Ive left university, this band isnt that special, i had no money, and now Ive got even less! So in a year I left. Three weeks later, Karl and I were back together and talked, formed Freur, and thats it. Weve been together 22 years now.
The band name Underworld came from a movie that Smith and Hyde scored the music for in the 80s. It was an adaption of the Clive Barker book of the same name. Since then, Underworld songs have made it into several films, including their breakthrough hits Born Slippy and their song Dark & Long in Trainspotting, Moaner which was featured in the blockbuster flick, Batman & Robin, and more recently, three songs from both Freur and Underworld made it into the movie Vanilla Sky.
It would absolutely be wonderful to score more films, says Smith. I really enjoyed the experience. Working with film is so exciting, but its also so time consuming. But if somebody specific asked us to do something that was exciting, I think wed make plans to make the time.
Whats lovely about music alone is the ambiguity, and I really like that and its open to interpretation, but equally theres something exciting about being very specific with a visual which is hitting people first, and then using the music to play with whats happening with whats going into peoples eyes and I think thats fascinating, he adds.
Sound design is a personal obsession of mine, really. The guys who do Foley that stuff leaves me breathtaken, says Smith. Freur was all about film music really, and we never really changed, we just added groove to these pictures that were in our heads and it was like, Oh, good god, it works, and people really like it. Well, lets carry on then.
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