Painted on tube socks, oversized aprons, and double-stacked dirty tennis shoes were the makings of this season’s out-of-this-world collection from Eckhaus Latta. Adding to the surrealist vibes of the show was the soundtrack, which featured a melodic Manhattan-based youth chorus and a slight buzzing noise. Whoa.
We sat down with the soundtrack’s composer, Sam Davis, to ask him where it all came from.
Trinity Youth Chorus Senior Choristers -- vocals
Paul Salveson -- electronics
Jesse Krakow -- bass
Nick Podgurski – drums
How did this idea to compose and perform music for Eckhaus Latta show come about?
Zoe and I met in Los Angeles at a party thrown by our mutual friend Alex Chaves. She liked the outfit I was wearing, we got to talking, and by the end of the night I had invited her to participate in a project I was working on called Louie Louie: Two Songs From An Opera.
Louie Louie was an opera (because I said so) — it was a two-day sculpture show, featuring a ton of different artists while a live band continuously played throughout the exhibition. In my mind, visitors would take on the role of Louie (the protagonist), the sculptures would constitute a sort of set, accompanied by music emanating from the ‘orchestra pit’ I had built in the middle of the room.
Zoe ended up playing flute in the band and designing their outfits.
Immediately we found that working together was incredibly easy and we had similar ideas about getting things done. Friendship ensued, I met Mike, and when they approached me about doing the music for their SS15 show, saying yes was a no brainer.
Could you describe your musical piece for us?
The piece is a very loose and fairly abstract interpretation of a Mariah Carey song called "H.A.T.E.U.," which I've arranged for an ensemble of ten teenage voices (courtesy of the Trinity Church choir), fretless bass, drums, and ambient electronics.
When Mike & Zoe first approached me about the project, their only guidance was to include a choir and consider working with the Mariah Carey song.
I found that it shared some melancholy, dirge-like qualities, not to mention a similarly ascending chord progression, with one of my favorite Neil Young songs, "Danger Bird."
As I began working on demos and fleshing out what the song might sound like for the presentation, "H.A.T.E.U." and "Danger Bird" started to conflate in my mind and this third song started to emerge. I wanted to use the choir like a synthesizer or a sampler, with long overlapping tones to create something dense and atmospheric, which would interact with staticky electronic ambience and be anchored by the R&B groove from Mariah's original. I'm very lucky to have such talented friends in the NYC experimental music community who leaped at the opportunity to do a weird R&B dirge with a teenage choir at a fashion show.
How do you think your music complements the artistic approach of Eckhaus Latta?
As I mentioned earlier, Mike & Zoe are my friends, it's easy to spend time with them, it's easy to talk to them. They're very serious about play and have a dry sense of humor, (which I think I share). They're not afraid of real emotion and as absurd as a lot of our conversations around the music have been, it was never a joke, we never shied away from the real power that lay in the schmaltz of having a choir sing this song or the sort of sad, sensual groove that paces it.