Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton shares her “internal soundtrack” in her Guest DJ set – from her friends Marilyn Manson and David Bowie to Barry White and Bjork. Tilda is now starring in Jim Jarmusch’s latest film Only Lovers Left Alive.
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1. Marilyn Manson - Personal Jesus
2. Barry White - You're the First, The Last, My Everything
3. David Bowie - Wild is the Wind
4. Bjork - Mutual Core
5. Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) - Beautiful Ride
Eric J Lawrence: Hi I’m Eric J Lawrence and I am here with award-winning actress Tilda Swinton. The multitalented artist recently presented a live work at MOMA in New York and is now starring in Jim Jarmusch’s latest film Only Lovers Left Alive. Today we’re here to talk about songs that have inspired her over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Tilda, thank you so much for coming down.
Tilda Swinton: Nice to see you, Eric.
EJL: What’s the first track you got for us?
TS: Well, it’s a tough one to ask for only five pieces of music, so I was figuring, what are my internal soundtracks, particularly when working. And the first thing that sprang to my mind also to wake everybody up -- I’m pretty jetlagged so this one’s going to wake me up -- is Marilyn Manson’s “Personal Jesus.”
Which apart from being a very, very romantic song about long distance relationships, is the thing that I used to listen to and rock out to, with my group of monsters when we were making the Narnia film on a mountain in New Zealand. And to keep warm, we would rock out to this.
EJL: And this over the Depeche Mode original?
TS: Yes, partly because Manson is a friend of mine.
EJL: How did you become acquainted with Marilyn Manson?
TS: He wanted to make a film, which we still talk about. It’s one of those films that people are talking about for years and years now. And he got in touch with me and I went to meet him and he’s become a friend.
EJL: Well here it is… Marilyn Manson with “Personal Jesus.”
Song: Marilyn Manson - “Personal Jesus”
EJL: That was Marilyn Manson with “Personal Jesus” as selected by our guest, Tilda Swinton. What’s the next track you got for us?
TS: Well, the next track in my internal soundtrack is Barry White – “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything.” Also something that is a kind of regular ‘rock out’ track in my household and at film festivals.
The last time I played it was… Roger Ebert used to have, still does, a wonderful film festival in Champagne, Illinois. And when I was there last year, which was only a few days after Roger left us, I told his wife, Chaz, about our film festival, the fact that there was a dance before every screening. When she asked me if I would do it at Ebert fest, I put this on for Roger and we all rocked this.
Song: Barry White – “You’re the First, The Last, My Everything”
EJL: Can you recall actually where the first time you heard that song was?
TS: Ooh, probably in a sort of teenage nightclub or something.
EJL: Is music something that was an important part of your early childhood?
TS: Yeah! I mean I always find it a strange question, you know, ‘do you like music?’ It’s like saying, ‘do you like oxygen?’ And also the idea of choosing any particular music is very strange to me. I have what they call a catholic taste.
EJL: Is music something that you use as a tool to sort of prepare for roles?
TS: Prepare for life! You know, yeah, absolutely. I think that it’s difficult. I would mind going deaf.
EJL: That was music from a man who has it going on, Mr. Barry White, with “You’re the First, The Last, My Everything.” Well, what’s the next track you got for us?
TS: I reckoned we had to have Mr. David Bowie in here and I wanted to put in “Wild is the Wind.”
Again, I’m thinking of these songs as kind of this soundtrack that didn’t happen in some piece of work.
“Wild as the Wind” is a great song which less people know maybe than all the other songs I could have chosen from Bowie. And it’s actually a track that had we had the money we would have the rights to put on the end of a great film I made called “I Am Love”. It’s very romantic, and I love this version.
Song: David Bowie - “Wild as the Wind”
EJL: It’s interesting too because it is a song that originally, its origins come from film, and you’ve worked with a number of directors who my sense have a very keen sense of music as part of the rhythm of their films. I am thinking maybe specifically of Derek Jarman, Wes Anderson, are two examples.
TS: Someone like Jim Jarmusch, who is by the way a kind of mega rock star in every right, his films are musical really. I mean this film “Only Lovers Left Alive” is about a rock star, it’s a kind of documentary really, about a vampire rock star living in Detroit making phenomenal music over many centuries. That’s a portrait very close to Jim’s heart. He works with music very closely and always has, I think. His films are musical experiences.
EJL: Well what’s the next track you got for us?
TS: The next track is a really a beautiful piece by Bjork and I have a particular love of this Biophilia project that she made because my children, who are now 16, we had the great good fortune to be invited by Bjork to take the children and their entire school of 14 children down to the last of her Biophilia concerts in London and to do a two day workshop with her musicians, which was quite mind blowing for these kids. You can imagine how great was to hear them over the next few days saying to each other, "have you done your Bjork homework?" So that’s an education that I am very envious of myself. This song is about magma, it’s about volcanic activity and it’s called "Mutual Call."
Song: Bjork – “Mutual Call”
EJL: You mentioned your children and we had spoken earlier about hearing music as a younger person, have they been bringing music to you?
TS: Well, in a way I feel more vice versa. We’ve been playing all sorts of music that I used to listen to when I was their age and its quite staggering how quickly you get flipped back into being 16 if you listen to something particular. Like fragrance, music tends to kind of encapsulate a sensory relationship to a time.
EJL: What’s the next track you’ve got for us?
TS: The next, and final if I understand it, track is by another friend of mine, the great and good, John C Reilly -- although this is a song by the possibly even greater Dewey Cox. It’s a song called “Beautiful Ride”. John and I worked together on a film called We Need To Talk About Kevin and I used to embarrass him by playing "Beautiful Ride" whenever he came into the room. Its truly one of my favorite songs.
It has a line in it which can reduce me to tears about traveling, not just for business, which I really love. It’s just Dewey’s Cox’s wisdom about how to live a long and good life and how to pick your priorities.
Song: Dewey Cox – “Beautiful Ride”
EJL: I appreciate you coming down and sharing your selection’s with us here at KCRW.com
TS: Thanks Eric, it’s a great pleasure.