An unconventional tale of revenge, Alice Lowe's Prevenge is now available to stream on Shudder, and to celebrate the film's release and its haunting synth score, we caught up with Pablo Clements and James Griffith (of the band Toydrum) to discuss the creativity that went into scoring Lowe's multidimensional horror film.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us! How did you initially get involved with Alice Lowe’s Prevenge?
"We met Alice a few years back when we scored a short called Pieces, directed by our good friend Jack Weatherley, and Alice was part of the cast. A year later, Alice asked us to score her short film called Solitudo, and a year after that she came to us with Prevenge. We always got on really well and have a mutual respect for each other's work, so it was easy and enjoyable to work together."
What about this story in particular appealed to each of you?
"Well, we both have children, so we have been on both the good and bad side of a pregnant woman! Really, we just love Alice's work and her amazing sense of humor, and we both love a good horror movie, especially what it allows for musically, so it seemed like a perfect fit for us. On top of that, what we really liked about this story is that under all the gore and comedy, there was a real tragedy to Alice's character and it really came through. There was a real sadness that allowed us to go a bit deeper musically."
You two are used to performing together as the creative duo Toydrum. What was your collaboration process like on Prevenge?
"It was pretty similar in the way we write most music together. We usually start by writing separately for a week or so, and then start playing each other what we've been working on, and then start bringing ideas together. Then, we sort of trade and start working on each other's tracks and just keep going like that until we're in the room together working."
Did you look to any other films or bands for inspiration when creating the score for Prevenge?
"We talked about certain soundtracks we all loved and certain vintage scores (Pablo is a big collector). We also discussed the films which had inspired Alice (Taxi Driver, Rosemary's Baby, to name a couple), but we didn't want to get too close to anything in particular, so we never really referenced anything full on—just watched and wrote. It was very organic in that way. The film has a brilliant D.I.Y feel and this is something we felt needed to be present in the music.
We also felt the music had to have a certain coldness to it. You do try to give yourself rules while composing different soundtracks. We limited ourselves to the instruments used, and when we found the tools we needed, the music just started to flow. The music definitely came from being inspired both visually and emotionally from the movie. I think this is also why people responded so well to the music, because it is Prevenge—we weren’t trying to copy any other score."
Growing up, did you enjoy watching horror movies? Are there any horror film soundtracks that have stuck with you and inspired you over the years?
James Griffith: I did. Loved them. The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre—a weird mix of sound design and music, really scary. And, of course, the first Halloween.
Pablo Clements: I do like horror, but I'm probably not the best to watch it with. Let's just say I add to the tenseness! Saying that I am a really big collector of old soundtracks like Goblin’s Profondo Rosso, Riz Ortolani’s Cannibal Holocaust, the fantastic Bernard Szanjner's Visions of Dune and composers like William Basinski and the work of Connie Plank. I'd say these are always on our minds as inspiration.
What types of instruments did you guys use for the Prevenge score?
"It's probably a 95% synth score. We used the analog 4 for a lot of it and the Elka syntex and also the rawness of Arturia’s Minbrute. We also have Macbeth elements which were used for some of the gnarly sci-fi moments, when she's falling over in the tunnel, etc. There’s some fender Rhodes on the love song bit and the end has some piano and strings, and all the drum programming was done on an MPC, which always gives it an old-school feel. Oh, and some creepy vocals—always need creepy vocals when a movie involves murder and a baby and/or a fetus."
What was the most challenging or rewarding scene to score for Prevenge?
"I'll go with most rewarding. It has to be the end tunnel walk scene. The way we started the score was by watching the movie once and then we just started writing all kinds of different tracks, genres, etc. The vibe and imagery was so strong you could just imagine scenes and the look of the film, and it would allow for some great stream of consciousness music-making. We then stared sending the music to Alice and all of us separately started placing the music over the scenes, just seeing what worked. One piece which became the main synth arpeggio theme we stuck on the end just to see if it worked. And it was as if we had written it for and cut it to that scene. It worked so well. It was amazing. We sent it to Alice and we all loved it. That was the first piece of music that stuck, and we moved backward from there. That was the piece that started it all off."
What projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?
"We have a few things in the works, but we don’t want to talk about them yet (never believe your score will make it until it's on DVD, is what we say). We are also writing our new Toydrum album. This has been coming for a long time. We also have, as well as Prevenge, a Toydrum rework/remix album out with Bmg on April 7th. Nick Cave and Warren Elis, Trentemøller to name a few, did reworks for us.
The Prevenge soundtrack is now available digitally from Lakeshore Records. To learn more, visit: