Thursday, 6 February 2014

Pumajaw have a Noir Edge

PUMAJAW show their Noir Side

Who doesn't love the old black and white movies? Who didn't wish they could have been the ice cool Marlowe ( Humphrey Bogart ) in the classic The Big Sleep?  A detective always one step ahead of the mob and getting the broad, in this case a cold Femme Fatale played by Lauren Bacall. The streets were always mean and smoky, hench men appeared from shadows, there's always drinking of scotch on the rocks in classy joints, nobody trust's anyone; Welcome to a typical setting of a Noir Movie. We've all seen them and enjoyed watching time and time again : The Maltese Falcon, The Night of the hunter, The Third Man and Kiss Me deadly for example. Fast forward to the 80's for Ridley Scott's Noir Classic Bladerunner:

The original version with the gun for hire voice over.  A movie with its futuristic -souring- Synth soundtrack from Vangelis, stylish direction and it's cool lead from Harrison Ford as Deckard. A movie I never tire of seeing or hearing the score, especially the beautifully ambient / piano piece Memories of Green

I remember staying up late for Director Alex Cox's Moviedrome where he would introduce a Cult movie. This particular time he shown David Lynch's Blue Velvet. I instantly fell in love with the strange little movie, the direction, the weird characters and especially the music. 

In the early 90's a new T.V Serial Drama started on BBC 2 by David Lynch Twin Peaks. I was hooked. Week after week glued to the T.V awaiting and bracing myself to re-enter the twisted fictional world, each episode added a piece to the puzzle of who killed Laura Palmer. It also became darker and darker introducing us to stranger characters and one man in particular who scared the hell out of us Bob. One thing that does stick in your head is the soundtrack. I myself have always bought Film Scores and Twin Peaks in particular I owned on vinyl, also the haunting Theme Tune -  hit single Falling by composer Angelo Badalamenti and Julee Cruise.

A world where nobody trust's anyone, instead of Scotch our hero drinks coffee enjoyed with a side plate of cherry pie. Lets' not forget the Main characters Dale Cooper and the budding Nancy Drew like Audrey Rose. She had her own theme:

So you can tell I've always enjoyed my music dark and interesting, which brings me to Scottish Electronic Duo Pumajaw. Their music is very cinematic, stylish, with a mixture of Electronica, Jazz and Bluesy baritone style vocals from lead lady Pinkie Maclure ( a name that could easily have been lifted from a Bogart movie ) all gelled together by her partner in crime John Wills.

They also share a love for Noir movies and the music that Soundtracks them, so much so they did a very successful run at last summer's Edinburgh Fringe with Song Noir. A visual live music event, playing a selection of their own interpretations of music and song from the Noir genre. A show i enjoyed so much i saw twice. One of the stand out songs i witnessed , sung beautifully and brooding by pinkie was lifted from Twin Peaks: Jimmy Scott - Sycamore Trees

Pumajaw's next musical offering is based on this very theme Song Noir and is out very soon. I caught up with Pinkie on her return from their Italy tour last month. I ask her a few questions about the origin of the show's and songs.

Me: You guys are just back from a tour of Italy, how did it go, favorite city/venue  and how many years you been playing there with Pumajaw?

Pinkie: Another great tour of Italy, it gets a bit better every time. Favorite gigs were Venice (a huge industrial space just outside Venice) and Brescia, a little arched theatre underneath a fabulous restaurant. It was our fourth tour there, but the first time we’d performed ‘Sycamore Trees’. Obviously that went down well, as it was written by an Italian! We also played in a nightclub in Foligno, at 2am, with a huge crowd singing along drunkenly to ‘Bang Bang, my baby shot me down’.

Me:  Was it the excellent 'Song Noir' tour?

P: No, we did songs from several of our albums, including two from Song Noir and the rest were from Demonmeowmeow or previous albums. We've got big plans to develop Song Noir with the help of a theatre director this year, polish it up, change a few of the songs, making it more of an exploration of madness and alienation via music and film Noir. Then we want to do a tour of cinemas and theatres, including possibly doing the Edinburgh Fringe again.

Me: Speaking of 'Song Noir' you are working on releasing a new album on this concept? Also maybe a DVD of your Month live run at the Edinburgh Fringe last august, any release date planned?

P: We are working on the album and hope it will be ready for release in March or April. It’s been hard to find the time to finish it, but it’s nearly there. The live footage we had done from Edinburgh was very poor quality, unfortunately, so we’ll have to film it again before we can release it on DVD.

Me:. What was the first 'Noir' style movie you remember seeing? And maybe the first piece of music you remember enjoying in that style?

P: I suppose it was ‘The Night of the Hunter’. I came home from the pub one night very late and when I switched the telly on, there was the riverboat scene -  I thought somebody had spiked my drink! It was magical and unforgettable. I have always loved music in a minor key, or any music that has an element of darkness and mystery, even as a child. My parents are both music mad, I grew up with a lot of different genres, jazz, classical and sixties pop, nothing too cliched or commercial, though, that was frowned upon!

( A piece that was played in their own style in the show )

Me. If you could have written a 'Song' for a 'Noir' movie from the past , which one would have it been?

P:  Maybe ‘White Heat’, because it climaxes with a shoot-out in a huge chemical plant, you could make some great music out of those strange metallic clanks and hisses.

Me:  Do you plan to tour in Britain again this year?

P: We are planning to tour ‘Song Noir’ sometime after March, when we have worked on it with theatre director Nick Philippou.

Me:  Your fan's of David Lynch, especially Twin peaks. If you met him what would you ask him? Twin peaks:  If you could have played one character, which one?

P: To be honest, I’m not the biggest David Lynch fan! I loved Eraserhead and I did enjoy a lot of Mulholland Drive, especially the Club Silencio scene, but if I were to play a character it would have to be one of the men, because the women tend to be victims and that’s really not my style. Maybe I could be one of those weird little clowns that sometimes crop up. I am an Angelo Badalementi fan, though and that’s really why we chose that song.

There you have it, the end credits roll, the music finishes.. FADE TO BLACK

Now after 3 years in the making Pumajaw have released Song Noir, check out their website above

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