Philip Selway is scoring a new film with a powerful post-Charlottesville message
The Radiohead drummer says Polly Steele drama Let Me Go, about a daughter uncovering her mother’s crimes during World War II, is “a timely reminder of what can be normalized.”
Philip Selway has written the score to upcoming drama Let Me Go, an “emotionally complex look at generational trauma” which the Radiohead member says has a timely message about “guarding against accepting hate and intolerance.”
Based on the memoir of Austrian-born Helga Schneider, whose mother abandoned her age four to become a German concentration camp guard, Let Me Go follows actress Juliet Stevenson in the role of Helga, “estranged from her mother for 60 years, then summoned to sort her mother’s affairs as she enters a care home,” Selway tells FACT.
“She comes to learn about her involvement in the atrocities at Auschwitz. It’s about coming to terms with the past.” The film’s trailer promises an intense drama that’s both beautiful and bruising.
Let Me Go is Selway’s first score, and his first solo work since 2014’s Weatherhouse album. Getting involved, he says, was an easy choice after being approached by director Polly Steele. “The character of the mother – at first you’re drawn into her on a quite accessible level, then you learn more, and without giving too much away, you discover she’s quite unrepentant,” he says.
“Coming from a contemporary perspective, it feels timely… look at Charlottesville, look at the rise in hate crime recently. There are situations in which intolerance is rather more accepted. There’s a lesson to be learned from this story.”
Grounded in sharp strings and piano, Selway began the process by putting together a mixtape of music that included Melanie Di Biaso, Agnes Obel and Max Richter’s Infra as a sort of mood board.
You might have expected the 50-year-old to trade notes with either Johnny Greenwood, now a veteran film composer with 10 OSTs under his belt, or Thom Yorke, who’s currently working up a Blade Runner-inspired score for horror remake Suspiria, for his first OST. Selway however opted not to trade notes with his Radiohead bandmates.
“We’re all extremely supportive of each of our projects outside the band,” he says. “Thom was busy with Suspiria while we were on tour. It was interesting to see him on his laptop, coming up with ideas.”
The Let Me Go OST lands on October 27 via Bella Union, and is “a bit of a sidestep” from his previous solo albums. “It doesn’t really fall into the same timeline as [2010 solo debut] Familial or Weatherhouse. But I’ve already got my next solo album in mind,” he teases. Whatever that next album is, he’ll take with him a better ability to follow his instincts, he says. “This has been a big, beautiful learning curve.”