Soundtrack night to conjure up a David Lynch dream

Director and president of the jury David Lynch during a photocall at the Palais des Festival during

Director and president of the jury David Lynch during a photocall at the Palais des Festival during the 55th Cannes Film Festival. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Responsible for startling films like The Elephant Man, Eraserhead and Blue Velvet, as well as cult TV show, Twin Peaks, David Lynch is one of America’s most recognisable auteurs.

David Coulter

David Coulter - Credit: Archant

On June 20, the Barbican will pay tribute to the director’s musical soundtracks with versions played by Conor O’Brien (Villagers), Mick Harvey, Jehnny Beth (Savages), Cibo Matto, Sophia Brous, Stealing Sheep and Stuart Staples (Tindersticks).

David Coulter, who curates the night, explains.

Why are you choosing to celebrate the music of Lynch and why now?

I’ve been a fan of David Lynch’s films since first watching Eraserhead when I was 16 at my sixth form in Brockenhurst as part of a series of Weird Cinema organised by our film society. The whole evening marked me deeply. Lynch’s (and Alan Splet’s) sound design and their very precise use of music impressed me like nothing I’d ever seen or heard before. In Heaven was my earworm for a very long time.

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As I watched his movies as they appeared over the intervening years, I would always buy the original soundtrack albums. I started to make mixtape compilations for myself of various songs from his films.

When I started making these multi-artist events several years ago, I always had Lynch as one of those artists I truly felt a connection with and decided I would work towards making a Lynch tribute evening. It has almost happened a couple of times before, but this time it was Bryn Ormrod (creative producer at the Barbican) who had the faith and committed to it.

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The Twin Peaks 25 year-anniversary is this year, so it seemed an appropriate way of paying homage to this landmark piece of TV, as well as opening it up to include a selection of favourite songs and pieces from Lynch’s films in general.

What does he mean to you personally as an artist?

Lynch has influenced me primarily in the way I observe and listen. I like the shock of the new. I love the way he has unwittingly influenced a whole new generation of creators – and not just from the worlds of cinema, art and music.

Lynch has a long relationship with music and also produces it as a solo musician. What do you think the similarities are between his music and films, and are there any differences?

There’s a fantastic quote from an interview which Lynch gave a few years ago where he simply states: “Every time I hear sounds, I see pictures. Then, I start getting ideas. It just drives me crazy.”

I think all of his work, whether it be painting, writing, cinema, producing music (of his own and for other people) shares a commonality.

There is always something that suggests itself as being slightly darker than normal which often lurks slightly beneath the surface.

What is the structure of the show and what are your goals as musical director?

I have curated the evening to include six artists whose work I admire greatly. I selected them on the basis of their vocal qualities and colours, but also because all the artists have spoken with me of their love of Lynch’s universe.

Each guest will perform three numbers and these will be punctuated by either instrumental numbers or recorded sonic collages by my friend, the Chicago-based singer/songwriter and Lynch academic and collector Daniel Knox.

How do you think Lynch’s work relates to a younger generation?

Lynch’s work is important to anybody fascinated with cinema no matter what their age. In this age of the disposable and the immediate it is important that we celebrate our culture and heritage.

I consider Lynch to be an iconic artist who has left us with an astonishing body of work which still resonates and impacts on the watcher or listener today.

What might audiences take away from this show that they might not expect?

What I’m trying to achieve is a challenging and surprising evening of musical moments which allows the listener to drift through the sound world and universe of one of our most iconic creative minds.

Do not come expecting straight carbon copy covers of the songs. We are “revisiting” the songs and trying to create our own version of a Lynch soundworld.

As Lynch said: “The music should surround you, envelop you, so you can live inside a dream. And that’s the way it should be, in my opinion.”

In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited is on June 20. Tickets are £20-30. Visit

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