Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Invisible Undercurrents: Cat’s Eyes’ Favourite Soundtracks

With their soundtrack to Peter Strickland's new film The Duke Of Burgundy released this week, Cats' Eyes - The Horrors' Faris Badwan and composer Rachel Zeffira - run through their movie collection with Kiran Acharya to pick out their 13 top scores and soundtracks

Faris Badwan has mastered the art of falling asleep with his eyes open. The Dracula-like talent is fitting for the man who fronts The Horrors, but maybe not so useful when it comes to watching films with Cat’s Eyes partner Rachel Zeffira. “Faris has this unbelievable trick of falling asleep after 20 minutes in the cinema – but appearing to be wide awake,” she says. “At the end he’ll pretend and say, ‘Yeah, that was a good film.’ He’s not even slumped. He looks alert.”

“I’m preparing myself for old age,” says Badwan. “It’s a useful tactic. A useful trick to employ.” The duo now follow their 2011 debut album and famous first gig at the Vatican with the beguiling and alluring soundtrack to The Duke Of Burgundy, director Peter Strickland’s new film, following 2012’s sterling Berberian Sound Studio. But even after watching it hundreds of times while recording the music at Abbey Road, they say they could watch it again and again.

An erotic and tender depiction of dominance and submission played out between two butterfly professors named Cynthia and Evelyn, The Duke Of Burgundy brings playfulness, at first, to an unsettling yet sexy relationship which quickly becomes punishing. Zeffira explains that Cat’s Eyes were involved from the outset, writing music before the film had been cast or locations secured. “We can still watch it as if we’ve had no involvement in it,” she says.

“It’s quite a humorous film,” says Badwan. “There are a lot of little jokes. Creatively, the number one thing we appreciate is sensitivity, whether that’s in editing, making music or painting or whatever. You really pick up on it when people are attuned to emotions, and how to convey emotion. That’s the most important thing when you’re making a soundtrack.”

“Part of the challenge is to act as an undercurrent,” says Zeffira. “In something like Brokeback Mountain, which is really simple and minimal, the music almost becomes part of the landscape. The way it’s phrased and shaped. It gets inside you.”

Their selection contains a mix of the subtle and the bombastic, reflecting Zeffira’s love for classical composers and choral music, as well as Badwan’s excitement about the esoteric and avant-garde. Presiding over everything is the spirit of Nino Rota and the bold simplicity of his work on the first two Godfather films.

“He’s been like an invisible mentor,” says Zeffira. “He died before I was born, but I did meet his daughter. I’ve read all his diaries. His colleagues were doing very experimental ‘clever’ music and trying to be the next Stockhausen. He felt that he had to be genuine when he wrote. And now, nobody has heard of all those colleagues. Their music has dated very badly because it’s not clever fifty years later.”

The Duke Of Burgundy original soundtrack is out now on Raf Records/Caroline Records. Cat’s Eyes will soundtrack a screening of the film as part of Brighton Festival on May 22; full details and tickets are here. Click on their image below to begin scrolling through Faris and Rachel’s choices

First Record

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