City Of Angels: John Carpenter

City Of Angels: John Carpenter

FOR V100, HEDI SLIMANE BRINGS TOGETHER GENERATIONS OF STORIED ROCK-AND-ROLL ARTISTS IN LOS ANGELES—WHERE THE SO-CALLED DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION IS JUST ANOTHER REASON TO KEEP ON CREATING LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW.

FOR V100, HEDI SLIMANE BRINGS TOGETHER GENERATIONS OF STORIED ROCK-AND-ROLL ARTISTS IN LOS ANGELES—WHERE THE SO-CALLED DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION IS JUST ANOTHER REASON TO KEEP ON CREATING LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW.

Photography: Hedi Slimane

Text: T. Cole Rachel

Have you been surprised by the reaction to the release of the Lost Themes recordings?

JOHN CARPENTER Surprised and delighted. It’s great. You know, most of this stuff was just improvised—just me and my son playing around—so I’m amazed by how it all turned out.

It’s always been my understanding that your iconic film scores—namely the score for Halloween—were mostly born of necessity.

JC Yes, that’s exactly how they came about. Making my own film scores happened because we never had enough money for a proper score. Not ever. Thankfully I had just enough talent—and I mean just enough—to make something very simple. As long as I could get to a synthesizer I could figure out how to make something that supported the movie. So that’s how my music-making started. Plus, I usually ended up being happier when I just did things for myself.

Previous to making your films, did you have any experience as a musician?

JC Yeah. I grew up with music. My dad was a musician and I grew up in a house that was full of music. He tried to teach me violin and I didn’t do very well, but I learned how to play keyboards and guitars.

Did you have bands?

JC Oh yeah. We had a cover band going from high school and into college. At that time we were really doing it for money and we’d actually make some bucks playing for fraternity parties. This was back in Kentucky. I was the bass guitarist and we just covered popular tunes from the radio.

Had it always been on your mind to release your own electronic music? Or had these recordings just been kind of laying around for years?

JC Oh no, I never really thought about it. It’s really a recent development. It’s great though, it’s like my next act…I was a director for a while and now I can play around with being a musician. It’s all improvised, this music. It just comes from the inside.

And you’ll be playing live shows soon, right?

JC Yes, we have a band. My son and my godson are playing with me and we’re going to be joined by the band that Tenacious D plays with.

Do you find making music feels like a totally different creative sensation than making movies?

JC Oh yeah. Making music is really freeing. You don’t have the hassles and the stress of moviemaking. It’s a very stressful job. But playing music? It’s so great because you don’t have to deal with the same kind of expectations. Just make music? What the hell? It doesn’t get better than that.

Do you see yourself doing more music stuff?

JC Yeah, I hope so. I’d like to create scores for other people, so that’s a possibility as well.

How would that feel—making music for someone else’s movie?

JC It would feel good! Because then I wouldn’t have to actually direct!

But do you miss making movies whenever you aren’t working on one?

JC Yes and no. I don’t miss the stress…and I don’t miss the amount of aggression that you have to exert whenever you are making a movie. It’s just part of the job, but I don’t miss it. That being said, I still love cinema and she will always be my muse. But this music stuff is right up there too, so I’m certainly not unhappy with what I’ve got going on right now.

Where do you spend most of your time these days?

JC I’m in beautiful Hollywood, California.

Could you ever imagine living somewhere else?

JC Why would you ever want to live anywhere else but Hollywood? It makes no sense.

What’s so great about it?

JC It’s paradise, are you kidding? You’ve got everything here. You’ve got the oceans, the beaches, the mountains, this beautiful weather (most of the time) and you’ve got the most beautiful women in the world walking around.

Fair enough. Based on the music you’ve released—and given your history as a filmmaker—people might imagine you as being this very dark person. Why do you think you’re drawn to this kind of material—or to making these kinds of sounds?

JC I don’t know, really. Soundtrack music is something that’s just in my blood. It’s fun to make and it just comes out of me this way, as opposed to happy music. I end up making the kind of music—and the kinds of films—that I also want to see and hear.

You don’t seem like a very “dark” guy. In fact, you seem kind of opposite.

JC I’m not a dark guy at all.  I’m pretty optimistic, actually.

What will happen next for you?

JC We are gonna tour this year around the states and play more shows. Are you kidding? If I can make some money with this, then why not? Also, I’m playing with my son and my godson, which is just a dream. How many 68 year-olds get to do that? That aside, if we can make a couple of bucks…oh hell, why not? This is fun.

You’ve been in LA for a long time and experienced the city at it’s most decadent. Were you ever the type to hang out with rock stars or spend time partying in clubs on the strip?

JC Oh no, not at all. I was a movie guy, you know? It was a different scene. I went to the Sunset Strip when I first came to L.A., and I remember going to see Chicago and the Stones back in the day, but I never really hung out on the Strip…which is funny, because I live just above it. I could look down at all the action without really being a part of it, you know?

Credits: PRODUCTION KIM POLLOCK AND YANN RZEPKA DIGITAL TECHNICIAN ALEX THEMISTOCLEOUS (MILK STUDIOS)  PHOTO ASSISTANTS FRANK TERRY, MATT HARTZ, JAMES PERRY RETOUCHING DTOUCH  EQUIPMENT MILK STUDIOS  LOCATION QUIXOTE STUDIOS  CATERING FOOD LAB

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