Write On: Invada Records On Soundtrack Culture

Redg Weeks looks ahead to Solaris…

Clash opens Write On up to Redg Weeks, label manager at Invada Records, to divulge his fascination with soundtracks, and how the label has worked to promote the very best examples…

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In 2012, Invada Records released the vinyl soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece, Drive. It featured an incredible score by Cliff Martinez (more of whom later) plus a host of electronic Euro synth tracks by artists including College, Kavinsky and Chromatics.

Drive has been a genuine game changer for the label. Not only is it one of our best-selling LP releases, it has brought Invada fully into this new world of contemporary film soundtracks.

Back in February this year, Spin magazine ran a feature entitled 40 Movie Soundtracks That Changed Alternative Music. You can find it online here. The feature lists the soundtracks chronologically, beginning with Louis and Bebe Barron’s groundbreaking electronic score to Forbidden Planet (1958) and finishing up with the aforementioned soundtrack to Drive.

Up until as little as two years ago, the soundtrack section of a record shop was a marginal concern found next to the classical and opera sections, littered with blockbuster scores and Tarantino collections. Fast-forward to the present day and everything is different – labels like Death Waltz, Mondo and Black Vinyl have produced lavishly packaged records, sitting pretty on predominantly placed racks to command your attention.

It’s hard to imagine anyone walking past the haunting image of Michael Myers on the Halloween II reissue and not being affected by it. Modern soundtrack composers like Mike Patton (Crank, The Place Beyond The Pines) and Clint Mansell (Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain, Stoker) can't make a film score without half a dozen labels fighting for the rights to release it.

It’s a sign of the times when Urban Outfitters has sold more copies of Drive and the Death Waltz reissue of Donnie Darko than HMV managed. It proves these aren’t just records aimed at the stereotypical older male demographic or nerdy soundtrack aficionados – they’re also appealing directly to young music fans who’ve become sick of media-led campaigns promoting over-hyped bands and festival buy-on slots.

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The Death Waltz Donnie Darko – custom artwork creation

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From a label perspective, it’s been a revelation not going to radio with a ‘single’ or spending countless hours in meetings creating over-complicated promotion schedules. Instead, there exists a healthy contingent of music fans eagerly embracing this concept, who don’t need all the trappings of a standard indie-rock band release to mobilise them to the record store.

It’s worth saying here that Invada isn’t strictly a soundtrack label, despite our foray into Hollywood. First and foremost, we are an independent music company. The punk-rock attitude and ethos of the label is prevalent in whatever we release, whether the record sleeve has Ryan Gosling on it or not.

Last year, Invada worked in conjunction with 2000 AD comics to release ‘DROKK: Music Inspired By Mega-City One’. A soundtrack of sorts (its origins are documented well online), ‘DROKK’ is the perfect example of how Invada sits in both the world of outsider music and soundtracks.

It’s also noteworthy that the release took the label in a completely different direction in terms of fanbase. People that had previously never even heard of Invada, let alone listen to one of our releases, took to Twitter. Comic book artists, actors, film directors, authors, film score composers… people picked up on, and shared, ‘DROKK’ via social media and the result was a genuine word-of-mouth success both critically and sales wise.

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College w/ Electric Youth – ‘A Real Hero’

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So what comes next? Off the back of releasing the Drive soundtrack, we have signed College to Invada. Their ‘A Real Hero’ (featuring Electric Youth) song was the film’s main theme and now Invada is giving College’s albums a physical release for the first time. Elsewhere, Geoff (Barrow, Invada owner) and Ben Salisbury, the pair behind ‘DROKK’, are back in the studio working on an original film OST. Hopefully Invada will get the opportunity to release this, cementing our score/soundtrack axis further. 

However our next project brings us back to Drive and the work of Cliff Martinez. As he personally intimated to us in an interview around the release of Drive – which can be read here – his soundtrack to Steven Soderbergh’s version of sci-fi epic, Solaris has remained one of his proudest achievements – not to mention being an office favourite for the Invada team.

With the scale of the orchestration Martinez had at his disposal, Solaris makes for a shining example of the kind of accomplished music that might otherwise be overlooked were it not for the interest such bodies of work are generating now. 

With the rush to secure the Drive vinyl taking precedent, initial moves towards acquiring the rights were waylaid. But now, two years on, everything is in place for a full release of the Solaris soundtrack across two vinyl editions – one black 180-gram vinyl, one white vinyl. It’s been a long time coming but in the current climate of enthusiasm for soundtracks, the music will receive the attention it so rightly deserves.

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Cliff Martinez – ‘Is That What Everybody Wants’, from the Solaris OST

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Find Invada Records online here

Find previous Write On articles here

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