American musician Max Jury recalls how David Lynch's 1986 neo-noir film Blue Velvet catapulted his creativity.
If I wasn’t a miserable singer-songwriter, I’d want to be a detective. A hard-boiled, chip on their shoulder kind of private eye. One who's wary to the ways of the world and, of course, always at the mercy of some femme-fatale. Maybe that’s what first drew me into the universe of Blue Velvet. Those film-noir, Raymond Chandler-like qualities that reverberate throughout. But its writer and director, David Lynch, subverts and reinvents that genre into something otherworldly. It's at times twisted, violent, and downright psychologically disturbing. But, at other times, inexplicably...funny? In a (I think intentionally) overwritten post-modern-fucked-up-soap-opera kind of way? Conflicting, to say the least. But for a 13-year-old kid from West Des Moines, Iowa whose background in cinema was the American Pie trilogy, it was eye-opening and paradigm shifting. It kickstarted my hunger to create and use my imagination.
What I find most fascinating about Blue Velvet, and Lynch in general, is his artistic interpretation and aesthetic portrayal of suburban America. Even before watching Blue Velvet, it’s fair to say I was dubious of the “idyllic” surroundings of my upbringing. As an adolescent, I saw my community through a lens of skepticism and morbidity. I could feel an underlying sense of darkness that in retrospect wasn’t particular to my own town but towns all across America. So it was more a feeling about human nature, I guess. And I’m not saying I’m always right, but that’s my own perverse worldview. I see the white picket fence and the perfectly manicured lawn and I think WHAT KIND OF AWFUL THINGS ARE GOING ON IN THAT HOUSE. So I really connected with Lynch’s sort of re-evaluation of suburbia and the American dream. The theories and fantasies of my town and all the other little towns felt validated. They had been visualised in a way that was both horrifying and inspiring.
To tie this all together, two songs on my upcoming album, "Burning Through You" and "Gone", very much owe their existence to Lynch. They attempt to take American cliches, both thematically and sonically, and subvert them into something with a much darker undertone...all while trying to maintain the superficial beauty and charm of their musical references. I wanted both good and evil to be present in the recordings and I wanted that conflict to be audible and sneak its way into the psyche of the listener. And again, I owe that idea to Lynch and Blue Velvet. Take Roy Orbison for example. As a kid he was the sound of young love. He was the sound of innocence – a first date – a first kiss if you will. But post Blue Velvet soundtrack, Orbison sounds like a ghost. I mean, if I was in a car park and "Only the Lonely" came on I would be terrified. Lynch reinvented the way I heard those songs. And I guess I wanted to try and do that with my own music.