There Will Be Music

Jonny Greenwood
Image credit: Robin Francois / Retna

JONNY GREENWOOD: That's interesting, what Paul's saying about coming in later. It's a weird position to be in. It's only now I'm kind of realizing how weird that was, to be having fresh opinions about something that's already involved so many people.
PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON: Or that you have the ability to ruin everybody else's good work...
GREENWOOD: Really ruin it! No, I think in the end, it's all right. I think we got away with it.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you ask Jonny to score this film because of his Bodysong score, because of ''Popcorn Superhet Receiver,'' or just from being a Radiohead fan?
ANDERSON:
I saw Bodysong at a film festival in Rotterdam on a rainy afternoon. I'd obviously been aware of Jonny's work with Radiohead and tried to follow that as much as I could, and I just fell in love with what he did for that film. It was near while I was about halfway through writing the film, I guess, [that he thought about Greenwood]. Then when I heard ''Popcorn,'' I just loved the sounds of it, and I just couldn't put my finger on what I liked about it. Because I would always hear it when it wasn't on, like a phantom limb, just the strange sounds of it. I had been listening to it over and over again, and then when not listening to it, would feel like I had left the stereo on in the other room or something.
GREENWOOD: That's mad, because that's exactly why I wrote that! That's really weird, that you saw that in it. The whole [conceptual] idea was about when you think there's some music playing, and there isn't. You know, like when you're doing a Hoover or a vacuum cleaner and you think there's a radio playing as well, and you turn it off, but there isn't any music on. That was the starting-off point for that piece, anyway.
ANDERSON: I just saw a report that people are reporting that they feel like their phone is buzzing in their pockets, even though they don't have their phone in their pockets.
GREENWOOD: Fantastic!

Did the collaboration go smoothly?
ANDERSON:
You know, I'm really not that competent at describing things musically. I think Jonny was probably amazingly patient with hearing some really long winded descriptions of things that made no reference to how you could do it musically.
GREENWOOD: It's funny, I found an early e-mail from Paul, and it just says ''I've got complete trust that what you do is going to be great. Don't worry. I believe it's going to be fine.'' I think I was slowly trying to back out, like a few months ago, thinking, I can't do this. I can't go on with this. It was a combination of [Anderson's reassurance] and just general enthusiasm for the whole project that just made me think it was going to be all right. And when that happens, you just always want to do your best for that person. I'm sure it was very sort of psychological mind games going on, to get me so happy. But it was a really happy time.

NEXT PAGE: ''Just being in a room full of string players, when they start up, whether it's an 80-piece orchestra or string quartet, is the most addictive sound.''