For the last three years, Popcorn Frights has brought Halloween a few months early to South Florida, offering horror buffs and gore geeks a place to converge and celebrate their shared love for macabre cinema.
When the film festival kicks off today, it will be with musical accompaniment from Mystvries and Dr. Mofongo, two Miami-based artists affiliated with the city’s own Bribery Corporation label. To celebrate the occasion, Mystvries created an exclusive New Times mix showcasing the sounds and genres Popcorn Frights attendees can expect to hear this weekend.
New Times: Tell us a little bit about Popcorn Frights and your participation in it. How did Bribery Corporation come to be involved in the event and what exactly is it you’ll be doing?
Mystvries: Popcorn Frights is Florida’s largest genre film festival and it’s all horror, with some huge names attached to it. Malek Akkad (son of Mustapha Akkad, who produced the original Halloween films) is going to be there promoting a movie he produced. Our involvement is that we all love horror and it seemed like a no-brainer to try to get involved, considering the type of music I make. We’re curating an aural journey into some classic and modern horror film scores and the music they inspired.
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Tell us about the influence of horror scores on your own work. How did you get into them, and what stands out in your mind as "important" or defining work in the genre?
I love horror, and the music around them. As cliché as it is, when I was 10 years old I saw Halloween on SCI FI. Obviously it was censored for television, but the combination of John Carpenter’s score and the visuals along with the spine-chilling way they used Michael Myers in the film made me really intrigued and terrified. I kept on with the cheesy TV airings of classic horror films throughout my youth and they helped shape my love affair with both the music and the whole ethos and structure of the modern and classic horror film.
I think that John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, Vangelis, and Goblin all contributed to my work in this fashion and I’ll never forget how the music of Suspiria was a pivotal part of the film and the unfolding of the story. It’s one of those things that drives me to try and make my music as cinematic and dark as possible.
You curated a mix for New Times in advance of Popcorn Frights; how did you go about selecting the tracks, and what stands out to you as highlights? Will you be pulling from this material for your set at Popcorn Frights, or is this more of a thematic companion?
I will in fact be pulling from this material for my set, along with countless other classic tracks and score snippets. I picked a combination of tracks for this to just give the taste and feel, but left out a lot of key players. Highlights include “The Magician” by Mike Simonetti, who I’m a huge fan of, and “Hourglass” by S U R V I V E, as well as some of the Stranger Things theme music by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. I’ll be playing a lot of my own unreleased horror themes as well, which should be exciting as I’ve never shared it and would love to gauge the crowd’s reaction.
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Synthwave influenced by horror scores is currently having a bit of a moment, with the likes of Hotline Miami and the soundtrack for Stranger Things taking off in popularity. Artists like Magic Sword being featured in the likes of the new Thor trailer would have seemed impossible only a few years ago. What factors do you think have come together to make this possible and what do you see in the future for synthwave?
I think it’s a combination of a very dedicated and growing scene of artists, musicians, and fans that has been steadily growing and pushing this music out to the world over the last ten years. The cultural signal boosts like Drive and Stranger Things have also helped bring this music into the public spotlight. Magic Sword could have never been in Thor if Drive and Stranger Things hadn’t had their moment.
I think synthwave is just getting started, and I’m excited to see the rise of mainstream popularity in the genre, with artists like FM-84 making commercially friendly '80s synthpop and synthwave.
Besides your own work with Bribery Corporation, how, if at all, do you see the aesthetic of horror films and their companion soundtracks reflected in South Florida art? What local directors, films, studios, etc. should Miamians be keeping their eyes on?
I think everyone should come and check out the homegrown horror segment of the festival that features horror from right here in SoFlo and Florida in general.
Mystvries and Dr. Mofongo at Popcorn Frights. 7 p.m. Friday, August 11, and Saturday, August 12, at O Cinema, 90 NW 29th St., Miami; 305-571-9970; o-cinema.org. Tickets cost $12 via popcornfrights.com.