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December 2020 / January 2021

Track by Track: Lawrence Rothman - The Turning (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Lawrence talks us through his new soundtrack, feat. Muna, Pale Waves, Courtney Love, Mitski and loads more.
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Published: 5:15 pm, February 27, 2020
Track by Track: Lawrence Rothman - The Turning (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

That up there, Dear Reader, is Lawrence Rothman. Alongside sister Yves, he's curated the soundtrack to ‘out now in the cinemas’ film The Turning. It’s got loads of our faves on there - from Soccer Mommy and Mitski to Girl In Red and Pale Waves - so we figured, “why not ask Lawro to tell us more about how it all came together?” Which we did. And he did. And here it is. Look at that.

Courtney Love - Mother

Floria Sigismondi, the director, wanted to provide clues about the ending of the film within the soundtrack. As in tradition with Henry James novel having an ambiguous ending that now to this day understand Courtney was the first session Yves Rothman and I did for the Turning. I wrote this song ‘Mother’ a few years ago, and when director Floria Sigismondi came to me about the soundtrack, I immediately thought of this song. The whole film is a surreal dream from the perspective of the mother character played by Jolie Richardson. She imagines the whole thing. So we needed a key track for the mother telling her fears and what is going on inside her head. A clue for the audience. Courtney came over, and we cut the song she didn’t change a lyric, it was my dream to work with her since I was nine years old - I am a huge Hole fan, so this was a mind-blowing experience for me. Yves, myself and our brother Bosh provide the band track and playing to Courtney singing was literally our goal since childhood. Hole was the second concert I ever saw.

Mitski - Cop Car

The Turn of the Screw was a seminal book for me when I was a teen so when Floria Sigismondi approached me to produce all new and original soundtrack for her film The Turning curated like the classic 90s soundtracks, was a dream come true. I had just started my new record label Kro Records with Yves Rothman and Justin Raisen. I had a compilation project in the works with multiple artists, so the timing was serendipitous. Floria Sigismondi wanted a soundtrack that was a nod to the 1990s, but singularly unique to the atmosphere and world I created in The Turning. Mitski was the second person I reached out to for the soundtrack back when she was on social media. I felt she could really nail the 90s thing as her music is genius and swims in so many eras. She was on tour at the time, so she created the recording with her long time producer. When we got it, Floria right away put it in a key scene that she was hoping it would work for and her intuition was spot on.

Soccer Mommy - Feed

The Turning takes place in the 1990s. Instead of using licensed 90s music, Floria and I wanted to create a soundtrack that was 90s-influenced mixing our favourite new artists and a few from the 90s era. Giving the film its own world and its own unique version of the 90s that only the film lives in. When Sophie from Soccer Mommy first sent the raw demo to ‘Feed’, it became the main character Kate’s (played by Mackenzie Davis) cassette mixtape jam on constant repeat. I met with Sophie at my studio, and we talked about the unravelling of the main character Kate, and she went back to her studio and came up with ‘Feed’. We mixed it to a track tape machine that I bought off Steve Albini that he used on albums from the 90s, along with mixing it through a neve board once owned by Willie Nelson.

Girl in Red - Kate’s Not Here

This song came together like a fever dream. Marie from girl in red came through our studio in LA while she was on tour. She had this song idea, and we knocked it out in a day then she took it back with her and added more things like bass in a hotel on tour. She is such an incredible producer that we really enjoyed co-producing this track with her. We ran her voice through an echo chamber that nat king cole used, and she sang through an old mic once owned by 1950s singer Jerry Lee Lewis. The title gives the viewer another clue about the film. ‘Kate’s Not Here’, because literally Kate does not exist.

Lawrence Rothman (Feat. Pale Waves) - skindeepskyhighheartwide

I wrote this song in theme with the mother character painting what she could see in her head, her inner demons - dealing with the unravelling of her mental state and what exists in her diary, and what meaning of her paintings could ebb. I wanted it to be a duet and had Pale Waves in mind as I am a big fan of Heather’s voice. She came by for an afternoon an added an urgency that was breathtaking to the duet - I tracked her through a microphone that Sinead O’Connor had used in the early 90s on of her albums, as I wanted most of the gear to be of the era.

Empress Of - Call Me

Yves, Lorely and I wrote this one afternoon while inspired by the Cocteau Twins. Producer Justin Raisen and I actually came up with a raw backing track that was the origins of this song back when we were working on my album 2017 ‘The Book Of Law’. I always loved the backing track. Floria wanted a Cranberries type of song for the movie, and I thought of this. Lorely is an incredible vocalist, and she wrote much of the vocal in 30 minutes.

Vagabon - The Wild

This was one of my favourites. Laetitia Tamko who is Vagabon came over with a song idea and Yves, Laetitia and I set up as a three-piece and performed it pretty much all live in two takes. We were into doing a Pixies ‘Surfer Rosa’ era homage and tracked it to the tape machine Steve Albini used on Big Black and Jesus Lizard.

The Aubreys - Getting Better (Otherwise)

Finn’s character in the film (Miles) is a real musical kid and retreats to his bedroom a lot to dispense his grief and confusion into music, and we wanted that represented on the soundtrack. Finn and his bandmate Malcolm came to my studio, and we had a chaotic eight-hour session where it all came together fast. Jay Reatard’s 90s band, The Reatards, were blasted in the studio during our session breaks, and a bit of that influence came into the recording. We worked up the song over the course of nine hours. We even used Krist Novoselic’s Gibson bass that he while touring Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album. Finn played all the guitars and bass, while Malcolm played the drums. We tracked to my 8-track tape machine I bought off producer Steve Albini that he used on records in the early 90s.

Cherry Glazerr - Womb

This song dealt with those memories that sometimes come into your head when you were in the womb of your mother. Originally this was a song I sang, but I thought a woman’s voice would feel more haunting. Clem from Cherry Glazerr came over and brought the song to life, played some of the best guitar I have heard in years. Tuned low the strings were like rubber bands, and then Tabor Allen laid in this slow almost John Bonham drum beat that we slowed down on tape even more. We mixed this song at the legendary sunset sound room were Prince mixed ‘Purple Rain’.

Warpaint - The Brakes

Warpaint are literally the best band in the world. Their chemistry as players together is so fluid and witchy. They are like a band of sisters, they interact as if they are inside each others’ mind. This session they performed their song live in three takes at my studio in Laurel Canyon. Floria chose them early on as a band she really wanted as she has been following them since their inception in 2004. Yves and I mixed the track at sunset sound in the room Prince did ‘Purple Rain’.

Lawrence Rothman - Crust (neverreallyknewyou)

Floria wanted to reveal more about the film in the end credits, so I suggest you watch all the way through this track closes out the whole film. I wrote this alone while watching the movie, on a piano owned by Floria’s 94-year-old opera singer father, Domenico.

Lawrence Rothman and Muna - Judas Kiss

This was another early song. Yves wanted it to be a duet as he loves the sound of low and high voices like Leonard Cohen albums. We are big fans of Muna and thought of Katie right away as the perfect voice for the duet. I wrote this song one night when I was in a terrible place mentally and then erased it. Yves had backed it up, luckily.

Kali Uchis - The Turn

Kali, Yves and I wrote this song early on in the process staying true to the 90s sounds, we created it all on 90s samplers asr-10 with these floppy disks. Every time we have to work on, we have to sync up these old samplers, it was madness.

Alice Glass - Sleep It Off

Alice and Jupiter made this lovely track together.

Dani Miller (of Surfbort) - Ouroboros

Dani came by our studio, and we made this song over a day a session, we were literally dancing for nine hours straight. We actually made two songs the other one is coming out on a special edition of the soundtrack - that (shhh) has something from David Bowie on it. Did I say that? Haha.

Alison Mosshart (of The Kills) - I Don’t Know

This session was chaotic and beautiful. Alison brought this song over, and we all performed live in 90s rock style to the 16 track tape machine. It was then mixed on board once owned by the band.

Living Things and Sunflower Bean - Take No Prisoners

This song plays in a pinnacle scene where Finn Wolfhard’s character Miles starts to break down. Living Things and Sunflower Bean performed this live together in the studio, it was crazy - two drummers, two bass players, three guitar players, all at once. It was so loud that we kept blowing up speakers while tracking it.

Lawrence Rothman - Crust

I created this song for end credits. As Floria wanted a slow, menacing track, I did it all analogue to tape and used Harry Houdini’s (the magician from the 40s) old organ for all the keyboard parts and kept cycling them through guitar pedals. Yves and I tracked this one night starting at midnight we thought we’d work an hour, that hour turned into six in the morning when we opened our door to the sounds of coyotes mauling some animal up here in the canyon, which is quite common.

Kim Gordon - Silver

Kim is a such a true artist and poet, this song was created with her delivering her poetry on the mic and producer Justin Raisen and I building up a manic track around the vocals she gave us. She then came back over and played some guitar after things progressed on the song. She has this amazing looping pedal that creates this sound that feels like your body is being shredded apart.

Taken from the March issue of Dork. 'The Turning (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)' is out now.

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