Music and television have long gone hand in hand, from John Lydon popping up advertising butter to Mogwai gorgeously soundtracking Les Revenants, the relationship has been one of both highs and lows.
In recent years though, whether due to the state of the music industry or a shift in what is seen as artistically acceptable, the attitude of music fans to bands using their music on the small screen has perhaps started to shift. With the success of shows like Stranger Things and Girls- programs that successfully use interesting music- there has been what Pitchfork referred to as, “a renaissance in music supervision”. Suddenly music is finding its feet on the small screen; this doesn’t feel like product placement, this is music sourced, or written, specifically for a show, and designed to create a specific atmosphere and to set the scene in front of us.
In a way this renaissance, harks back to the past, when pioneering small-screen composers like Delia Derbyshire and Barry Gray were, with the soundtracks and theme songs the produced, simultaneously pushing the boundaries of television, music and even the way we record sound itself. With the decline in traditional musical revenues, we may well in the years to come see more people exploring the small screen as a way to make music a viable living, and in doing so they might equally push the sound of television forward.
Kraków Loves Adana is the enigmatically named project of Hamburg based songwriter Deniz Cicek, who quit her job as a dentist to pursue a potentially more emotionally rewarding career as a musician. This week Kraków Loves Adana will release her third album Call Yourself New, her first since 2012’s Interview, and the first for her new label, Better Call Rob Records.
Listening to Kraków Loves Adana you’re immediately drawn in by Deniz’s soaring vocal, a voice that merges the power of Nadine Shah or Anna Calvi, with the emotional timbres of Torres’ Mackenzie Scott. What’s most impressive though is that beneath that vocal, this is music of great depth, floating between the ambitious, dexterous indie of Broken Social Scene, the emotional depth of The National, and the dark, brooding pop of Magana.
The excellent Not Another Sad Guitar is a wonderfully gloomy piece of songwriting, a reflection on wanting substance in your life, not just an all-encompassing melancholy. Opening track, Darkness Falls has something of Wye Oak’s early material in the driving guitar rhythms and steady driving beats. Best of all is recent single Youth Unbroken, a light, rhythmic rush of bright piano chords is accompanied by syncopated drum beats, and Deniz’s rich vocal performance. Lyrically it’s about moving on with your life and not letting your past affect your future, as Deniz puts it, it is, “about facing once forgotten adolescent trauma and finally letting completely go of a past that no longer needs to be romanticized by a broken heart.”
Deniz is a musician who keenly explores the relationship between music and moving pictures, and today she’s put together a mixtape of some of her favourite uses of music on television, featuring the likes of The Cure, Brian Eno and Angelo Badalamenti. Read Deniz’s explanation behind her choice of theme, and then check out her tape below.
“Movies and TV shows always played an important role in my own creative process of songwriting. There’s this almost natural connection and power that lives within the combination of moving pictures and music. Even if a song is used over decades as a score for a new produced tv show or movie, the combination of both can create a new art of its own.”
1. Peter Gabriel – Mercy Street
The song was featured in one of my favorite recent TV shows Halt and Catch Fire. The series depicts a very intense fictionalized insider’s view of the personal computer revolution and later growth of the World Wide Web in the 1980’s. Mercy Street was featured in the show’s third season, the events of which interestingly take place at the same time period of the songs release in 1986.
2. Brian Eno – By This River
In the 2001 drama The Son’s Room a psychoanalyst and his family go through profound emotional trauma when their son dies in a scuba diving accident. There’s this scene where the father stops by the music store his son always used to visit, ostensibly telling the clerk he’s looking for an album to buy for his son’s friend. He’s handed a Brian Eno album and By This River starts playing – a gut-wrenching moment leaving me sniffling.
3. Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks Theme
For me the soundtrack for David Lynch’s Twin Peaks is pure perfection and just ingenious. Composed by Angelo Badalamenti the soundtrack’s theme captures it all in just more than 5 minutes – the show’s sensitive, romantic and creepy mood. A fine balance of telling a story between good and evil, between light and dark.
4. Lera Lynn – My Least Favorite Life
This song appears in the bar scene in HBO’s True Detective’s first episode of season two. Lera Lynn herself performs the music on stage in that smoky, dark bar, giving the shot a mesmerizing atmosphere.
5. The Cure – Siamese Twins
Set during the Cold War in the 1980’s The Americans tells the story of two Soviet spies living in disguise as an American married couple. In the first season’s 8th episode a conflict puts a wedge between the two of them – The Cure’s Siamese Twins adds the perfect tone including an ironical touch with the song title. This somehow saddens me because the team spirit of the protagonists always reminded me of what I have in my relationship with Robert.
6. April March – Chick Habit
The soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof offers a fine collection of songs, spanning over decades and various styles. For me Chick Habit by April March shines out with it’s cheeky bass line and french pop spirit.
7. The Clash – Should I Stay or Should I Go
Featured in two episodes of Stranger Things this is a classic that just always seems as the perfect match when picturing adventures, love and youth.
8. U2 – With Or Without You
Displayed in two episodes of the series Friends it reflects on the Ups and Downs of the relationship between Ross and Rachel. This song is so cheesy in the cheesiest possible way and you can yell at me as much as you want, but with the throbbing, repetitive bass line, this song is a timeless and minimalist piece which emotionally picks you up with the first note.
Call Yourself New is out March 24th via Better Call Rob Records. Click HERE for more information about Kraków Loves Adana including upcoming live dates.