Spooky midcentury paintings of big-eyed children and the equally twisted tale of the artist behind them are at the center of
In film as with your own records, your aesthetic is so beautifully melancholy. Is making music a sad endeavor for you?
[Laughs.] No, I really enjoy it. Making a record — it's where all the fun is. When I'm done, it's like, oh, God. I kind of go into mourning.
Wow. I would have never expected you to use the adjective "fun" when describing the process.
Sad is happy to me. I love it. When I write something bittersweet, I smile. That's why I like Tim Burton. His world has that kind of foundation too.
So you're a Burton fan?
I am a huge fan. I love "Edward Scissorhands." But it was
Your sound is so noirish and visual. Is the process similar when making your own music as opposed to a film track?
Definitely. I can see it and I can hear it. I'm working on a new record now, and I have this one song, "Music to Watch Boys To." The title lends itself to a visual of shadows of men passing by, this girl's eyes, her face. I can definitely see things.
This film has great imagery thanks to those saucer-eyed paintings, but it's also this harrowing story of a woman deceived by her husband. He essentially claims he's the painter of the portraits, and for years the world believes him.
When writing music, my favorite place to travel is in my imagination, so having a movie like this makes it easy to go there. I can imagine another layer, what happened to Margaret [Keane, the artist played by Amy Adams], how excited she was in the beginning, how she thought she found a father for her daughter. And it turned out to be a nightmare. It's a great story to build a song around.
Right. A compelling film score should not just be echoing what you see in a film; it should, in fact, add another layer.
For me, the melody should also tells its own story. Whether it's minor or major, whether you choose to use a violin or a flute. In "
Now your title track has a Globe nomination, competing with contemporaries like John Legend and Lorde.
I grew up watch the
What are some favorites?
Daniel Heath produced and co-wrote "Big Eyes" with you. He's been a longtime collaborator.