Published May 31, 2016Nils Frahm and Woodkid have paired up to collaborate on the soundtrack for Ellis. The JR-directed short film stars Robert De Niro as an immigrant making his way through the abandoned Ellis Island hospital complex — a place that once served as the "gateway to America" for millions of newcomers.
The film is accompanied by an original score from Frahm and Woodkid, which will be released as a mini album on CD, vinyl and digital formats on July 8 through Erased Tapes. Proceeds will go to the Sea Watch initiative, a non-profit devoted to the protection and rescue of civilian refugees. The film itself will screen during the Frahm-curated weekend-long Barbican event, which begins in London on July 1.
The music was recorded in the summer of 2015 at Durton studio in Berlin and features a 17-minute long spoken word piece voiced by De Niro as the record's A-side.
"Robert says it all in 17 minutes," Frahm said in a statement. "We are not facing a refugee crisis. We are facing a crisis because we do not embrace, we do not sympathise and we cannot give up fear. Art can encourage so I hope this project will help fight the fear in all of us."
Woodkid added, "I wanted the listener to hear the mechanisms, the breathing of the instrument. I wanted it to be imperfect, to sound like a ruin, a trace, an echo, the way the pastings on the walls seem to be ghosts, almost imperceptible."
A few weeks after the initial score was captured to tape, Frahm was grounded due to terror warnings in Brussels and used the time from his cancelled trip to write the soundtrack's B-side "Winter Morning II." Inspired by De Niro's voice and a feeling "that the Europe I knew was already gone," he spent the day at his harmonium crafting the composition.
Below, hear one-minute snippets of both "Winter Morning I" and "Winter Morning II." Beyond those, you can also watch a trailer for Ellis.