Cinematic bliss with Johnny Jewel

By Yvonne Hawkey

Share: Share:

Music is an integral part of everyone’s lives, and whether we like it or not, holds an extraordinary power that transcends language, and evokes emotions. As we go about our daily routines, a lot of the music we encounter comes to us serendipitously, flowing from radio, television and cinema screens, cafes, bars and shops. Music has the ability to transport us back in time, evoking nostalgia and rekindling cherished memories.

One of the greatest strengths of soundtrack music lies in its ability to communicate emotions on a subconscious level.

From the grand symphonies of John Williams that transport us to galaxies far, far away, to the haunting melodies of Hans Zimmer that immerse us in the depths of suspense, soundtrack music acts as the invisible hand that guides our emotions through the twists and turns of cinematic journeys. It becomes an integral part of the storytelling process, enriching the visual experience and providing a nuanced understanding of the characters, their motivations, and the underlying themes of the narrative.

Which brings me to the multi-instrumentalist, soundtrack maestro Johnny Jewel, who I recently saw at the London Meltdown Festival on his first ever solo tour.

The synth-pop icon took the audience on a nostalgic trip featuring music and visuals from his film work with some bonus unreleased tracks, edited to violent sequences in abstract ways. From his heavy synth scores for horror films such as “It Follows” and “Stranger Things” to the electronic synth wave landscape of “Drive” (a masterpiece, even though Jewel didn’t get full credit).

Jewel, adorned in his iconic dotted make-up, (a war paint mode that he hasn’t stopped since 1998), played a series of synth dreamscapes to visuals of his cinematic catalogue. Surrounded by his all-analogue kit, he captivated the audience, leading them on a journey through Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, “Lost River,” to the heightened emotions of David Lynch’s revival of “Twin Peaks: The Return” in which Jewel’s band, the Chromatics, performed in a bar scene.

Jewel’s performance was electrical, full of “hair standing on the back of your neck” moments, that left a lasting impression. I came away realising just how much his synth wave contributions have shaped the alternative music landscape with their ethereal, cinematic quality, that heighten the emotional impact of visual storytelling.

Time to delve into the retro box set of “Twin Peaks” and surrender to a weekend immersed in soundtrack heaven.

Listen to Johnny Jewel on Spotify