Underworld interview

British electro duo on writing score for Danny Boyle's Frankenstein


This British electro duo wrote and performed the score for Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein play, available now at www.underworldlive.com. Frontman Karl Hyde is quite excited about it…

Karl isn’t a big horror geek or anything.
‘No, no, I’m not. But I am a big Danny Boyle fan. When Danny offers us an opportunity to work with him we always say yes, because his work is interesting and challenging, taking you to places you wouldn’t expect, which is what we like.’

In fact, Boyle’s Frankenstein is a totally un-schlocky treatment of the story.
‘There’s beautiful humour and a real darkness. It’s really quite touching. I’ve got mates who are outsiders, like Frankenstein, people that are products of circumstance, products of where they grew up, who they grew up with, and they’ve been channelled down paths they appear to have no control over. People to be beaten and chastised and locked up.’

He didn’t read Mary Shelley’s original novel beforehand. Tut tut.
‘I didn’t want to make any comparisons between that and Nick Dear’s script. But I did read Paradise Lost, which inspired some of the lyrics. Danny encouraged us to read it because it runs as a thread through the play and I found a strong similarity between that and my own lyrics. It’s become a real attachment for me – I carry it everywhere.’

Hyde and his Underworld colleague, Rick Smith, did more than write just a few bars.
‘Working on films with Danny and Anthony Minghella, Rick has always wanted to integrate music and “foley” – sound effects – into the composition. We tried to on Sunshine and Breaking and Entering, but
there wasn’t time. With this, because Danny gave us complete control over all sound – sound effects, atmosphere and score – we integrated them all into one continuous composition.’

Yet it still sounds like Underworld.
‘Danny encouraged us to use our voice, through our instruments, through the lyrical content, so it does sound like us. It’s on a sound system that uses sub-bass, infra-bass and surround sound, so it’s a powerful presence. Our character is strong in it, without getting in the way of the actors and the story they’re telling.’

Hyde and Smith aren’t new to this highbrow world of art.
‘Underworld, the techno rave band, is only a fraction of what we’ve been doing for 30 years. I exhibited last year as a painter in Tokyo alongside a sound installation by Rick. There are a lot of people that gravitate to the other things we do and, if anything, we’ve neglected them for the past 20 years. That’s something we’re trying to redress through our art jams, installations, exhibitions and those other things that aren’t considered to be banging techno on a Saturday night.’

Karl used to be a theatre buff.
‘I used to go a lot, to London’s National Theatre, to Donmar Warehouse. As an art school boy in Cardiff we had a fantastic theatre, the Chapter Arts Centre, and amazing things went on at the castle. It’s why Rick and I are so into music that’s evocative. Anything that’s evocative or emotive inspires us, from film scores to the sound of rush-hour traffic in the morning. It all motivates us to make music.’

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