Cipher: Villa Theatre Co. launches a multi-media musical concept | Buzz Blog

Cipher: Villa Theatre Co. launches a multi-media musical concept

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A scene from Cipher - COURTESY VILLA THEATRE CO.
  • Courtesy Villa Theatre Co.
  • A scene from Cipher
On March 16, Villa Theatre Co. launches a multi-media presentation titled Cipher, that combines an original film with a set of original songs. The project is the brainchild of Ted Echo (formerly frontman of the Utah-based band Solarsuit, under his birth name Logan Nelson), inspired by his experience with the impact of mental illness on friends and family, in collaboration with screenwriter John Newton and filmmaker Cameron Gould. Echo spoke with City Weekly about the unique performance.

CW: What led you from the kind of music you were creating with Solarsuit to this new project?
Ted Echo: [Solarsuit] was an artificial, over-the-top style of writing, meant to be an escape from reality. This idea came about in my head because all of my favorite works are the one that are very real, very difficult, kind of jar you a little bit and make you uncomfortable at times.  Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, that record in its entirety, you can dive 100,000 miles deep into it, what was Roger Waters thinking about when he wrote this particular phrase.

CW: How far back does the idea for Cipher go for you?
TE:  I’ve had an idea for crossing cinema and music together since I was 15. But I didn’t have the maturity and the patience to really push music and a film together at the same time. Once the Atlantic Records deal fell through [for Solarsuit], if I was going to do something new, I was going to do the hardest thing I could possibly choose. I had to reach out to close friends in the film world. I wanted to challenge myself, coming from this place of safety.

CW: Was the music written after the story for the film, or vice-versa?
TE: The way that John and I wrote the music and script together was, we wrote both at the same time. There were certain songs that were written to certain scenes, imagining the scenes like a music video. But some songs came later. We had the idea of what we wanted to happen, but it came together in pieces.

CW: Why did you choose to call this project a "theatre company," when it's really more of a concert accompanied by a film?
TE: The name itself is an homage to the Villa Theater (a defunct movie theater on Highland Dr.). When I think of a world that puts everything together, music and visual performance, I think of things like Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s kind of like a theater company in that I had to hire theater guys to figure out how to make the projection mapping work. It was that element of theatrical staging that I was looking for.

CW: You're releasing the soundtrack album separately, but it does feel very specifically connected to this live performance with the film.
TE: That’s the thing that’s really cool about this. I’m more of the musician, so where I had my hands in it the most was the music. My goal was that somebody could pick up the record, and we have some songs that are just dialogue, that tease out what’s going on. Pink Floyd's The Wall is a perfect example of that. I painted so many pictures in my brain while I listened to it. ... I feel like everything I’m given nowadays with art is spoon-fed. I sometimes used to put out what I thought people would want in the easiest way. It’s less risk. But I think there are a lot of people out there who like going deeper. I wanted to say, “Look at storytelling.”

Villa Theatre Co.: Cipher
The State Room
March 16, 7:30 p.m.
$15 general admission

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