laura barrett + José Contreras
At first glance, Music from Birdland, the original soundtrack to Peter Lynch's 2018 feature film, Birdland, might appear to be an unlikely pairing of Toronto music legends Laura Barrett and José Contreras. However, it is actually the duo's second soundtrack release. In 2015, Laura and José released the Porch Stories soundtrack on Toronto arts imprint Hand Drawn Dracula. While Porch Stories OST was an organic blend of kalimba and Spanish guitar, Music from Birdland is a very different beast.
Inspired by the noir tone of Peter Lynch's film, the soundtrack became a true ambient sound environment: the inhuman world humans make for themselves. It is a world made out of synth-scapes, steel and glass and pain, juxtaposed against Laura's beautiful voice.
Surveillance guitars, tape loops and paranoia.
Murder is electronic bursts followed by choral torment.
There is heartbreak for the heartless, and dance music for the lost.
“I’ve always admired Laura's music,” says José. "The chance to work together on the Porch Stories soundtrack was a dream come true. Although we both have a love and background of improvisation, it has expressed itself so differently in our musics. Yet it came together so organically and is reflected in the music that happened. I love that record. So when Laura reached out to me to collaborate again on the Birdland soundtrack, I jumped at the opportunity. We decided that we wanted to recreate the sounds of the city, the concrete, the hums and the screeches. The first thing we did was to take the lowest note we could generate, pitch it down many many octaves and start filtering it until it began to pulse with a life of its own. This became the sound of the murder scene. The sessions were immediately inspired, Laura is always flowing, honestly it was all I could do to make sure that we were always recording. She is so prolific and a total keyboard virtuoso. I had been experimenting with tape loops at the time. Playing them at different speeds, overlaid upon each other. They sounded so paranoid to me, so up close, like an intimate look at madness. This all reflected the constant surveillance in Peter's movie to me. All these sounds came together and seemed to work perfectly with Peter's visuals. The thing that is so cool, and was so satisfying about this project, is how different this soundtrack was from the last one we did. We really did channel the right spirit to deliver this music. It has a life of its own. And it is a really cool record in its own right. I’m super grateful to have had the opportunity to make it, that it’s found its home in Peter's movie, and a release on such a cool label. On top of all that, it has "You Loved Me Forever" on it, which is easily one of the most beautiful songs Laura has ever written."
Laura Barrett is a Toronto singer/songwriter/composer with two previous releases on Paper Bag Records (Earth Sciences, Victory Garden). She has transfixed audiences around the world with her virtuosic kalimba and piano chops, as well as with her original, modern compositions.
José Contreras is best known as the lead singer of By Divine Right, the Toronto proto-indie rock band going strong after more than 25 years of ecstatic rock deconstruction. He is also a record producer, having recorded and mixed many beloved records over the last 15 years.