Multi-intsrumentalist Emily Wells’ new album, Mama Acoustic Recordings, is out June 11 on Partisan Records. In this special guest blog, she talks about writing the title song to Park Chan-Wook’s film Stoker (starring Nicole Kidman), and her recent, life-changing trip to South Korea. Photos by Emily Wells and Lauren Ross.
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This was a first for me, writing a song, with lyrics, with my voice singing something I needed to believe from the perspective of a fictional character: the dark and evocative India Stoker of Park Chan-Wook’s recent and first American film Stoker. I wrote the beat, the first verse, the hook and the string parts in a Bushwick practice space in the span of a few hours. Park was in! Now I had to write the second verse, finish the song. I pretended to be a rapper, I thought a lot about Jay-Z, I went to the east river and read Milan Kundera’s “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting”. I couldn’t put this on, I needed to believe, to see the darkness in myself. I needed to remember when I “did something bad in order not to do something worse” as India’s father advises in the film. I thought about method acting.
So, two days later after eating and dreaming in “Stoker,” there it was, 16 lines or so and I’m recording the final parts of the song, sending it to Director Park and getting in the car to finish a two month tour. I was driving in middle of no where a week or so later when the sound editor, Ted Caplin who had initially introduced Park to my work, called me to tell me that Park wanted it for the film. As legend goes he asked in his calm quiet way to hear it one more time, listened and said, “yes, this is it”. Nearly a year later the film premiered in Seoul and I was invited to come and perform at both the press conference that would introduce the film, as well as the premiere itself. Director Park took me under his generous wing, bringing me into his fold of friends, family, filmmakers and actors: the absolute elite of Korean film. In the photos to follow you’ll see me attempting to capture in mostly iPhone snapshots, the whirlwind of a trip performing, photo-shooting, getting interviewed, being police escorted and meeting very kind and generous people of Korea in the gothic, modern metropolis that is Park Chan-Wook’s Seoul.