Trash Mutant Interviews (TMI): Videogram
- by Señor Editor, 27 March 2015
TRASH MUTANT: Your newest release “Cobretti EP” is like a collection of never before heard B-sides to the Stallone classic OST. And I mean that in the best possible way. This sounds great and really captures the ‘80s action movie vibe, while giving it a nice fresh sound. Why did you pick “Cobra” for the theme of this project?
VIDEOGRAM: Thank you! Well, "Cobra" does have a special place in my heart, as it was one of the first genre efforts me and a friend snuck into the movies to watch. If I remember correctly it was released here in Sweden with a 15 age limit and even though it was heavily censored (the end sequence made no sense whatsoever) it really made an impression on me. It's not "just" an action movie and feels so stylized and heightened it's almost like a slasher version of a cop movie. "Cobretti" will appear on my coming Cineploit debut album and for the EP I just expanded on the theme. With some much-appreciated help from D.A. Medina.
This isn’t your first release. You have a full self-titled album and several short projects under your belt right now. Going from an Italian horror kind of vibe, to Charles Bronson, Friday the 13th and more. Can you give us a short rundown on how these classic ‘70s/’80s movies inspired you to take this path in your music career? Did you always know this is the kind of sound you want to pursue in your music?
Well, I kinda see this project as just one of many examples of the current wave of artists that were inspired by the 1980s VHS explosion. There's musicians, graphic artists, directors etc. from pretty much all over the world that seem to have spent a good part of their childhood in video stores. It was such a different time I find it hard to describe the impact it had or just the thrill of walking into one of these damn things, ha ha ha. The artwork on the boxes were so striking; the titles, the movies themselves and the music were so visceral, plus kinda came with this air of "verboten" which made it even more appealing for a kid. I mean, these were not Ingmar Bergman movies! Thankfully, I might add.
No, I kept my music and passion for genre film separated for quite a long time. I come from a punk/hardcore type background and it wasn't until a couple of years ago when I kinda soured on the whole band thing that I decided to do music on my own. Playing around with electronics it took me about a year before I started venting my inner horror/genre film nerd. The first effort was actually my electronic project Call Me Greenhorn’s “L’Isola dei Morti Viventi” album.
So far Videogram has released a full length album - that coincided with Doc Terror’s Italian Horror Week - a Friday the 13th-themed single called “Camp Blood”, a limited-edition 7” tribute to post-apocalyptic movies called “2077: Raiders of the Apocalypse”, the “Cobretti” EP and a freebie giveaway of the original mix of “Charles Bronson” that appears on the album. Check them out on Bandcamp!
Soundtracks nowadays, especially action movie ones, often fall into the “generic semi-inspiring background music you will forget immediately after” category, I feel. Like there isn’t as much emphasis on originality in soundtracks. The music often seems to take the backseat to the visual effects, and there are hardly any memorable ones. Especially compared to previous decades. Why do you think this is? Do you even agree with this, or am I just terribly biased?
Well, when it comes to the reasons why I have no idea and can only guess. It might just be something as simple as budgetary reasons. Having a composer create something from scratch and hiring musicians to record it etc. is more expensive than say licensing some dubstep tracks. Plus, there has been a major shift in the industry as releasing any type of movie these days is such a huge risk moneywise the powers that be don't wanna see anything deviate from the norm. It's understandable but unfortunate. I highly doubt Krzysztof Penderecki's work will get licensed in a horror movie any time soon.
But you're totally right when it comes to creating something memorable that also helps enhance the visuals. My fave example is Ennio Morricone's work for Sergio Leone, especially "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". That is just a masterpiece! Same goes for say John Williams' "Jaws” or John Carpenter's "Halloween". They just nail it and that gives the film that extra push needed to take it to the next level. Personally I feel the opening theme is crucial as it is the "hello and welcome to this movie!" and should not only immediately set the tone but also get the audience excited about seeing the story unfold. Just check out Carpenter's "Assault on Precinct 13" or David Shire's "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three", they're bad-ass! Quentin Tarantino used Dick Dale's "Misirlou" brilliantly in "Pulp Fiction" as well.
What are Videogram’s all-time favorite movie soundtracks?
Off the top of my head I'd say Carpenter's "Halloween" and "Assault on Precinct 13", Tim Krog's "Boogeyman", Ralph Jones' "Slumber Party Massacre", Ennio Morricone's "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", Fabio Frizzi's "Zombie Flesh-Eaters" and Walter Rizzati's "House by the Cemetery". I know I'm probably forgetting tons more so these are just a couple of examples.
What are some non-soundtrack records or artists that had a particularly large impact on you and your music?
Well, that takes us into the punk rock territory. I discovered The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Dead Kennedys, Exploited, Flipper etc. in my early teens. Don't know how much that has affected my soundtrack-inspired work though, but I've been told some Videogram tracks has a sort of energetic urgency to them that I guess can be traced back to me growing up listening to a zillion 40-second songs, ha ha ha.
But I draw inspiration from a lot of music, starting with 1950's rock 'n' roll and rockabilly, 1960's surf and instrumentals, garage, pop, beat, R&B, weird Moog records, soul and funk, up to early 90's grindcore and death metal. The first half of "Cobretti End Titles" for example is actually just a classic 1950's blues call-and-response pattern.
One of the things I really like about your music is how it expands on these various popculture classics. Popular movies often get a comicbook spin-off, or a novel that would act as a continuation. You can get a video game and play as your favorite movie hero and act out new scenarios. But you don’t really get this kind of expansion in the form of new music. How do you go about expanding on these various movie universes and continuing them in your music?
Thank you! Well, I have no interest whatsoever in doing covers which means that I'm trying to do what you mentioned with video games; take something I liked from a specific movie or genre and expand on it. That said, I try to keep things original and have no intention of xeroxing anybody.
When it comes to how I come up with these things I gotta say I don't have any set formula. I'm honestly just trying to recreate the excitement I felt watching these things back then. The same goes for the physical releases. I want them to be as thrilling and give the same sort of excitement to horror and genre fans as I felt seeing the VHS box of say “The Burning” or “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” for the first time. That’s my criteria for okaying it.
Anything you would like to add? What can we expect from Videogram in the near future?
Well, my debut album will be finished pretty soon and released on Cineploit later on this year. There's some pretty cool additional physical releases planned as well, and the easiest way to keep track is to join me on Facebook.
Thank you very much for the interview!
Thanks for having me!
If you haven't been following the links sprinkled throughout, you definitely should check out Videogram on Bandcamp (click the image above) and make sure to keep up with his Facebook page. It's the type of project that's well worth your support!
Tagged: music, TM Interviews.