Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe interview: ‘Candyman’ composer
Nia DaCosta‘s “Candyman” is a sequel to the 1992 horror classic, which features a beloved score by Philip Glass, and for composer Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, it was a matter of finding the right balance of tie-ins to the original while putting his own spin on it.
“We had a lot of conversations very early on in the process about the score … and for me it was very important to be able to reference the original film in some way but to try to steer clear of anything that was too concretely connected to the film,” Lowe tells Gold Derby during our Meet the Experts: Composers panel (watch above). “I did in the end rework one of Philip Glass’ original pieces [‘The Music Box’] but that was the last thing I did. I had completed the entire score before I even approached a consideration of what that would be because I wanted to be able to build the world first. I wanted to have a very specific vocabulary that stood on its own as well as have the film stand individually, living in the same universe as the original film but being its own entity.”
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Lowe took a different approach to the sonic palette. While Glass’ score was frenetic, Lowe’s synthesized score lives in eerie suspense, seemingly bubbling under the surface, making one question not only what horrors could be around the corner but what’s real and what’s not. “I came up with some very clear intentions and things I really wanted to focus on … one of those things being the sort of psychic energy of that sound in the score as a textural element throughout so that the actual energy of the space lives inside, basically building a landscape that would ultimately live as a character within the film,” Lowe explains. “ make a complex score as I could — an electroacoustic score utilizing electronics, utilizing acoustic instruments and then blending them in a way in which at times you don’t know what is what. And that also builds itself into the mythology and this idea of illusion or reality versus fantasy that is played with throughout the film.”
To create this visceral, vague soundscape, Lowe recorded his own voice and the voices of the film’s stars and his close friend and Oscar winner Hildur Guðnadóttir (2019’s “Joker”), who also plays the cello. Additionally, Lowe was on site during production in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green neighborhood, where he once lived, recording atmospheric sounds, from the humming of electrical boxes to the buzzing of bees.
“There were electrical boxes on the outside of the old row houses and I was doing recordings on the inside of the electrical boxes and basically collecting the sound of the door creaking, the wind rushing through and basically being filtered through this metal box,” he shares. “Then I took those sounds and processed them down again and utilized these cut-up techniques and rearranged the sounds so you don’t necessarily have the feeling of that specific thing.”