We meet rising electronica duo OOFJ to discuss their cinematic sound and scoring Lars von Trier's Melancholia
It was while recording the score for Lars von Trier's apocalyptic masterpiece Melancholia in 2010, that New-York-based, Danish musician Jenno Bjørnkjær first met his girlfriend and bandmate Katherine Mills Rymer. "The scoring process meant spending six months travelling between New York and Sweden where the film was being shot, and I'd only been back in New York for a few days when we met," Bjørnkjær explains. It wasn't long before the duo had fallen in love and Bjørnkjær – already writing under the name of OOFJ (Orchestra of Jenno) and enchanted by Mills Rymer's sweet yet seductive voice – had encouraged her to sing on some of his tracks. "When he told me he was doing the music for Lars von Trier's new film I thought it was very impressive," Mills Rymer laughs. And so OOFJ, in its present incarnation, was born.
Now with a haunting "pop noir" debut under their belt, and a second album set for release in the spring, OOFJ are garnering an impressive reputation for their atmospheric brand of electronica. "I think the reason why it feels cinematic is the orchestration," Bjørnkjær muses. "I didn’t plan on making it like that. I grew up with classical music, when I was very small and then I had a long period where I rebelled against that whole thing. But when I got older I got back on a good foot with my family and this whole classical world opened up to me and now I like to mix up genres."
So they've ticked the contemporary cinema box, but what soundtrack from the past do they wish they'd written? "The guy that did Rosemary's Baby – Krzysztof Komeda," Mills Rymer says. "It's still so interesting and strange – just listen to all the things going on in the background. That’s a good example of what we try to do. Make something that is really beautiful but also scary and weird at the same time." And is that what we can expect from their next album? "The name of the album is Acute Feast and we’re into this idea of food and design overlapping. I like the idea that food is this old school, Freudian thing – it's beautiful and indulgent but it also rots. For me that’s what we were trying to get to – decay and beauty and sexuality."
Jenno Bjørnkjær: Saxophone
Nikolaj Hess: Piano
Jonas Westergård: Bass
Jakob Hoyer: Drums
Words by Daisy Woodward
"There are two types of music used in Melancholia: one of them is an overture from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, one of the most famous classical pieces of all time, and then we did the rest of it – like all the wedding scenes. Von Trier is obviously one of the most important directors of our time – so the opportunity to work on this film was just unbelievable. Just thinking about it was amazing, but actually doing it was even better. It was so cool – to meet him and go back to Sweden and make this music on our own, you could really feel the connection between the music and his universe. We played some stuff in the studio, and Lars would come in, but then we went to the set and got to do more recordings during the actual shoot – we were playing throughout the wedding scenes! Obviously when we did the film we had no idea really about how well it would turn out. But then I finally watched it and it was totally mind-blowing. It was the best film he’s ever done, in my mind, and I say that not thinking that I’m in it."