Max Richter's Sleep (2019) Movie Script

Everything just takes a while.
Just staying with it in order
to get the richness of it.
It's too easy to move on.
Like a sort of big sky...
...translates into
what you're doing.
How would that be if
you could see for miles around?
The horizon's all open.
A ritual which shifts
your state of mind... take you somewhere else.
There's a sense
of sharing something.
It feels like it can stand
different kind of interventions.
I really love that.
I really love it that
it goes out and has a life...
- Yeah.
- ...beyond us.
If there's a storm coming...
They said there was going to be.
Music is my sort of vehicle for
travelling through the world,
sort of getting through life.
It's like I write music
to do that.
It's just kind of odd.
It's kind of an odd thing to do.
- Hello. How are you?
- Fine. How are you?
- Lovely to see you.
- You too.
How are you?
- Weird. Weird and tired.
- Weird and tired!
And this piece is obviously
very extreme in some ways.
It's a gigantic thing.
To want to do
such difficult things
is kind of odd as well.
It's a puzzle to me.
- Guys, you're almost there.
- Alright.
Right, folks, make sure
your wristbands are on.
The moment that I saw
the complete eight-hour album,
I listened to it, like,
over and over.
But then I stopped
listening to it.
I wanted the experience
to be new again for me.
After I booked my ticket,
I made this Instagram post
where it was like the gorgeous
cover photo of the moon
and I was like... So I'm gonna
see this eight-and-a-half hour,
204 movements,
classical composition
and I think I made some joke
that I'm just gonna feel
crushingly alone
and cry the whole time,
so that's what I'm expecting.
I've tried not to have
too many expectations.
Like, I saw the pictures
that he posted last night
and I'm like, "Those cots
are really close together!"
You know, I mean,
you have your own space,
but, uh, usually
I'm much more of a loner
as far as not being
so close to others.
I've never watched
something continuously
for eight hours,
so just hearing them warming up
has me pretty excited.
This is probably
the ideal way
you want to experience
something like this,
being around someone you care
about or just other people.
I don't know how to describe it.
It's just kinda like...
It hits your soul.
It just makes me feel like
connected to this world.
I guess what I was aiming for
is this sense of connecting
to origins somehow
and fundamentals.
It's almost like, "Can we just
start over, please?"
Hi, hello.
Welcome to this performance
of "Sleep",
an eight-hour lullaby.
I'm joined this evening
by the ACME Ensemble
and Grace Davidson.
A few more thank-yous,
first of all to Chris Ekers
for his wonderful sound,
to Steve Abbott
for joining all the dots
and especially to Yulia,
my creative partner,
whose vision is
a big part of this piece.
There are no rules. Um...
Listen as you like,
sleep as you like.
Maybe switch the phones off
and enjoy the trip.
We'll see you on the other side.
When we were younger,
we had small children
and we had no money,
so, of course, when Max
went away to do his concerts,
I could never go
and so I would stay behind.
It was really lovely
when people started
streaming concerts
because suddenly
I could listen in,
so I started to,
every time he'd go away,
I'd listen in to the concert
and see how, you know...
You feel nervous for your
partner, you want it to go well,
you're interested
in how it goes,
you want to be there, so it was
my way of experiencing it.
Yulia would be listening in.
Of course, if I'm
on the other side of the planet,
it would be at some crazy hour
in the middle of the night.
I'd be exhausted.
You know,
I'd been with the kids all day.
I was so tired, so I would
almost always fall asleep.
And pretty soon, I realised
that there's this incredible
thing that happens
when you start just drifting
in and out of this dreamy space.
And kind of waking up
and liminal spaces
would start to develop
and you start to listen
in a totally different way
to how you normally listen
to a CD
or a disc or even a concert.
And it becomes a...
It can... It becomes a very
emotional listening experience.
So when Max would come back, I'd
start to talk to him about this
and I was like, "We have
to do something with this
because this is
an incredible thing."
He said, "Well, it's funny you
should say that
because here's this piece I've
been working on since 1995."
And he starts getting out
these pieces of paper,
showing me these pieces
of paper and saying,
"I've been thinking about this
myself in a different form."
We sort of got into
this conversation about
would it be interesting
to make a piece
which is in some way made
to exist in that space
or to kind of have
that sort of conversation
with, you know,
the sleeping mind?
You know, the sleeping mind is
as valid and valuable
and, in fact,
essential to us actually
in terms of building
our waking life.
When we're sleeping,
we're not absent.
We're just... It's a different
kind of cognitive state.
And so we brought
these two ideas together really
and started to develop this idea
for the piece as it is now.
Life is busy
and life is getting busier.
I've never heard anyone say,
"Oh, things are just getting
so much slower."
Everything is always up.
It's moving forward.
That's how life works.
Things just speed up.
That, in a way,
suits corporations.
But does it suit individuals
as well?
I don't know.
So I wanted to make a piece
It's got an element of a sort
of quiet protest about it.
Just to kind of take a look
at this.
And offer a landscape
to withdraw from that
for a minute,
step off the wheel
and take stock.
It was a very big thing
to bring this into the world
and to get it actually made.
That was a two,
two-and-a-half-year process,
something like that,
and during that period
when Max was composing,
I was starting to look around
for the kind of venues
we could go to,
what kind of ways we could talk
about this project to people.
I always think Yulia's
the brains of the outfit.
She comes from anthropology
and film,
so her universe is visual,
from that standpoint.
I was developing
this language
of talking about issues that
were really important to me.
My family were refugees
and I wanted to really explore
that from every possible angle.
One of the things that was
really important to me
was that this piece
should be about community
and should be about connection.
Or at least providing a space
for it.
Whether it happens or not,
I mean,
that's down
to an individual person.
It doesn't have to happen
but we're missing that,
aren't we?
That was one of the very first
conversations we had.
We have this eight-hour piece.
Where does it go?
How do we stage it?
What happens with this piece
in order to foster
that kind of environment
where something like that
can happen?
Max and Yulia showed me drawings
of this concept of musicians
surrounded by sleeping people.
I went with a friend
and all those strangers
sleeping together,
open postures,
somehow takes you away
from the individual details
of your own life.
A couple of friends said,
"This is very disturbing."
Some people couldn't imagine
being in a place like that.
But the people
I could connect to understood,
there's something
about hearing it
and not necessarily watching
the performance.
There's some deep memory of
being a child and being sung to
when you're drifting off.
So it's such a tender offering.
As a cathedral, we wanted
to have a kind of connection
with these problems
with refugees
and, um...
and to make a connection
with an artwork, with music.
It was
this sculpture by Koen Theys,
with 12 bronze mattresses
where people slept,
which helped us to have
this crazy idea
of having "Sleep"
in our cathedral.
And now we have
400 of these beds.
It was a very big unknown
for all of us
who worked to prepare for it.
At the same time,
there was this vibe
of "this is something
very special",
which has never happened
and probably never will again.
I think we've had
something like 250 enquiries
for the show
and I think it's about 18
that actually
we've been able to put on.
Each show takes more or less
two years to pull off
from the first conversations
to when they finally go on.
For every venue, it's
a real labour of love as well.
Yeah, so it's a big juggernaut
of a thing,
but it's so worth it.
Welcome to Max Richter's
at Grand Park,
presented by the Music Center.
Tonight's performance
is the first outdoor
and the largest ever.
We are hopefully unplugging
from our everyday life
to experience
this beautiful concert together
right in the heart
of downtown LA.
Max basically says,
"You can walk around,
you can sit up,
you can lie down,
you can disconnect,
you can sleep."
And I think that freedom sort of
that Max wrote into the piece
and into the presentation
of the piece,
I thought it would get augmented
by putting it outdoors
and sort of giving it
that additional freedom.
He was never interested
in talking to an audience
of 100 people
who know about classical music,
so he engaged in a language
which is a plain-spoken language
because he wants to connect
to a lot of people
and that's immediately
frowned on
within a lot
of classical communities.
If you're popular,
that can't be good.
And obviously we weren't
paying attention to any of that
because we're not interested
in that conversation at all.
Our conversation is about
talking to a lot of people
and talking about a different
way of listening to music.
There are precedent pieces.
In Indian classical music
you have overnight ragas
and there's gallery work
from the '60s of Fluxus
and the Bach Goldberg Variations
which were supposedly written
for overnight performance.
It's not like sonic wallpaper
which is just quietly bubbling
in the background.
It's an artwork
and it's to be experienced,
not necessarily
to be listened to,
but to be experienced
in the way that we experience
a landscape, we're in it.
People are free to do
what they want in the show.
We didn't want too many rules
and that's reflected in all the
concerts. They're all different.
In Berlin, everyone shoved
their beds together
and you had families
all sleeping side by side.
It offers something where people
can feel cocooned, safe somehow.
It's not a performance
in the traditional sense.
If you play a gig,
you're projecting this material
really strongly,
you're trying to tell a story...
...whereas in the case
of a "Sleep" performance,
the dynamics are
completely different.
Those people sleeping
are the story.
To sleep, perchance to dream.
Sombre. Life noises.
The wild sirens,
chattering of people checking in
melts with the music,
creates a tone
like in the movies
after something serious
has happened.
I heard about the concert
and I was like, "I don't think
my wife would want to go.
It sounds too weird."
Then I told her about it.
She's like, "It's sleep and
it's music? What's not to like?"
I was surprised
she waited as long as she did
to say something about it.
I guess she had known about it
for a while.
I was really happy
to see her asleep.
Yeah, I was a little worried
that because we were
out in the open
among all these strangers
- And the bugs.
- And the bugs.
...she was gonna end up being
not happy,
but apparently,
her body was like,
"No, I can go to sleep now."
Like, I zonked out,
like, pretty much 15, 20 minutes
into the concert, I was out.
Legit, like, all night.
- Yeah.
- Which is surprising.
Being a woman
in our relationship,
you are kind of on guard,
always watching your back,
you don't know who's looking
at you, what they're thinking,
what they're thinking of you
and how you're making them feel.
I feel like I always...
always feel, like, unsafe.
You obviously have
something in common
'cause you've all come together
around this event.
It's just fascinating.
You see people.
You're like, "I wonder would we
be hanging out together?
Would we be buddies
if I went over
and struck up a conversation
with you right now?"
Like, yeah, you did feel
kind of safe and protected.
The first one was memorable
in that it was
just so terrifying
because we just did not know
how to play this piece.
How do you rehearse
something that size?
The gallery is full
of these amazing curios
of 19th century science.
It seemed in a way
an appropriate place to do it
because "Sleep" has
some of its origins
in, I guess, sleep science.
We rehearsed it overnight
and then we had the next day,
and I was up fixing the parts,
all the mistakes I discovered,
all the technical stuff.
And then we played overnight
live on Radio 3.
They broadcast it
all night long,
so it was kind of
a baptism of fire.
I was very lucky to be invited
to be one of the people
to fall to sleep
to his music
at the Wellcome Foundation.
I think it broke a world record
for the longest continuous
piece on the radio.
Once the piece kicked off
it was clear
that there was something wrong
with the piano
that Max was playing at,
that there was some really
tinny sound coming out of that.
And then one of the crew
crept up,
climbed on top
of this grand piano
and started trying
to investigate what...
But the piece had
to keep on going.
This was a live broadcast
of this piece that was gonna
go on for eight hours
and there was no way we were
stopping and starting again.
We got through it and
it had a real kind of energy,
it had a real sort of
gravitational force around it.
It just seemed
to kind of affect people,
so that was exciting.
My work comes
out of the polarity
between a very straightforward,
conservatoire, university,
composer education.
And my enthusiasm
for electronic music,
ambient music,
the studio as instrument.
It has its roots
in the kind of Renaissance
where music was structured
very geometrically.
It's also a rejection
of super-complicated modernism
which I was schooled in,
but which I felt
had really lost its connection
with a broader audience.
I felt like I wanted
to build a language
which had a kind of directness.
When Max and I first met,
I was giving a talk
about maths and symmetry.
I think there was
an immediate connection.
There's always been
an immediate connection
between maths and music.
Like every piece,
it's a big series
of "what if" questions.
I started thinking
about what kind of music
would I want if I was sleeping?
And I started thinking
I would like to feel
that if I wake up in the middle,
I want to know where I am.
Mathematics is
actually the science of patterns
and music is
the art of patterns.
And that's the connection.
So you take something simple
like the Fibonacci numbers.
So these are numbers which go:
1, 1, 2, 3,
5, 8, 13.
You get the next number
by adding the two
previous numbers together.
These have a natural growth
which is what nature uses a lot,
so the number of petals
on a flower
is invariably
a Fibonacci number,
the way that shells grow
or pine cones or pineapples...
You'll see these numbers
all over the place.
But these are also numbers
that composers love using,
so you see Debussy, Bartk
very deliberately using them
to give a sense of growth
in their pieces.
One of the things
that connects the world of art
and the world of mathematics
and science as well
is that all of these
are actually our response
to the natural world around us.
They're our language trying
to help us navigate our way
through the kind of chaos
that we live in.
I felt like slightly in
freefall when I was writing it.
I was like, "I don't really know
if this is gonna work."
When you're composing,
the notes you're writing,
you're very much writing them
in relation to everything
that's happened already and
everything that's gonna happen.
When there's a structure
that big,
you can't hold it all
in your mind any more,
so you really have
to just write the moment,
which is freaky
and goes against all
your compositional training.
When you're recording
sections of 30 or 40 minutes,
you can't do that on tape and
it's eight hours of multi-track.
So it broke the machine
in all sorts of different ways
and we had to invent
new ways of working.
For me, that is also
the exciting thing
about creative work.
You've got this space
that you know how to do that.
I know how to write
Max Richter music
up to this point.
But actually "Sleep" is stepping
out of that pool of light
into something else,
into the dark
and just finding
what's out there.
I always describe it
as if all the happiness
had left the world,
but I was good with it,
as if there was nothing else
to lose.
Especially if I'm full
of anguish,
if I need to relax
or I need to stop worrying
about what's gonna happen
in the future.
Max's music...
cleans your soul
if you want to say it that way.
It is as if
he had found something
that has already existed for,
I don't know,
thousands of years,
that is familiar to humans
like the sound of the sea
or the grass with the wind.
It is something
that makes us soothe and relax
and, and...and makes you feel
that everything is OK.
As if all humans spoke
the same language
and that we have to translate it
to English or Spanish
or whatever language you speak.
Everybody can understand it
and you don't need to be
a special kind of person
to know what he wants to say and
then the feelings are immediate.
It was not new. It was as if
I had been there all my life.
It was just like a continuation
of something
that you already know very well.
Like kissing your mother
or being with someone
you love very much.
I talked to a friend
of mine, David Eagleman,
he's a neuroscientist,
just to check that my instincts
about sleep music
were not actually stupid.
He pointed me at some research
about how sound and
a sleeping mind can join up.
To my knowledge,
it's the first time
that somebody has said,
"All right, we're gonna write
eight hours of music
and we're gonna try to do things
to keep people
in a state of sleep."
So one of the first things
that Max and I talked about
was about repetition of music
during sleep and how...
Essentially what happens
in the brain
is you've got lots of cells,
86 billion neurons,
and they're all doing
their own thing,
but when you fall asleep,
they come into concert more
and move as a group
which is why if you put
electrodes on the head,
you can measure the slow wave
happening in the brain
during sleep.
So we talked
about the kind of rhythms
that would be appropriate
for that sort of thing,
about the kind of repetition
that sleep represents,
the sleeping brain.
So Max set out to make sure
that the music he was writing
was sort of, you know,
rhythmically consonant
with slow-wave sleep.
Sleep has
a very particular flavour.
It's a very particular colour,
because it's all
about the bottom
of the frequency spectrum.
And almost all of sleep happens
from, like, 100 hertz down
which is a space
which isn't really available
with acoustic instruments.
In the natural world,
we hear those frequencies
in thunderstorms.
And those sorts of things.
And that's in a way
why they have a magical quality
because we can't actually
really make those sounds
with acoustic instruments
very easily,
or we can but only very quiet.
And for a piece to be structured
around that bit
of the frequency spectrum
is interesting to do
which is why the synthesisers
are so incredible
because they unlock
that bit of the spectrum.
I was about 13 when I first
heard electronic music, really.
On a TV show they used
Kraftwerk's "Autobahn"
and when I heard the opening,
I mean, it was like being struck
by lightning for me.
You feel like you're interacting
with a thing which has a life
because the sound
is never the same.
You know, the next day,
even the same patch sounds
different. Very organic.
I set out on this mission
to try and discover,
A, what this sound was
and B,
how could I get my hands on it?
And at that time, a synthesiser
cost as much as a house.
I got schematics
and a soldering iron
and bags of components
and just started in my bedroom
building synthesisers
and, you know, just tried
to make those sounds.
And that went sort of together
with studying academic music.
I always felt that was
quite natural, really,
those two things.
The way the music is made is
quite uncharacteristic for me.
It has a lot of affirmation
in the way it's structured.
It's sort of asking a question
and then giving you the answer
that you want.
It feels good as it goes by
because of that.
So you kind of know
where you're going all the time
and then it goes there
which is like, you know,
not what happens in real life.
So it's a wish fulfilment for
"if only life were like this".
Look at that, Max.
It's really beautiful.
It's pretty awesome, yeah.
The thing I find
that's so incredible
is when you're sitting
in your office or studio
and you're trying
to conjure up this whole world,
and then you come out here
and it just kind of pours
out of you, doesn't it?
We met for the first time twice.
It was the Edinburgh Festival
and there was a performance
of the Mahabharata,
you know, this wonderful epic.
So there's like
about 100 people on the stage
and about 11 of us
in the audience.
I'm sitting there in this thing
and I keep kind of looking
at this woman on the stage.
And I'm just like,
"Wow, she looks amazing!
I'd really love
to get to know her."
And then I walked
out of the theatre
and I was like, "You're never
gonna see her again,
just get over it, forget about
it, get on with your life."
And I love that phase so much
when everything
is possible still,
when there's nothing in the way
and everything's just...
Then we met again at a theatre
that I was involved with
and Yulia was involved with.
I was working in
a theatre company for a while.
That's where I met Max because
I gave him his first job.
Like a sort of energy
So we were just chatting away
in the back of the theatre
while we were supposed
to be working.
That kind of unmade works
and works without any mistakes
in them.
- And that's...
- So exciting.
When we first met,
that was what drew us together,
I think, was talking.
Yeah, we were just like...
We just talked about life,
the universe and everything.
And that was that.
I just thought I'd just met
the most interesting
and kind of kindest
and most thoughtful person.
Like, I still think that.
It's tough to make enough money
to feed three kids as an artist,
but it's also been an incredibly
interesting journey.
We both had quite complicated
childhoods in different ways.
And there is a flavour to that
that affects your whole life,
so one of the things
that was very comforting
and easy for us together
was the fact that we shared that
and, in a way, that's another
lifelong journey, isn't it,
is processing that.
And if you're kind of shy
and poetic like he was,
then you do that through music.
I started making records
and I made "Memoryhouse"
in 2002.
It was almost like
a series of questions
to see if a language could do
all these things I wanted to do.
And kind of no one heard
that record.
I mean, other musicians heard it
and it had a kind of a little,
tiny, culty sort of audience.
But, you know,
the record label was shut down.
We never got to play it.
Nothing happened.
It really took a while,
years and years and years,
before anyone really
paid attention to...
You know, the number of times
we had to, like, go to Plan B.
We were, like,
moving house randomly.
You know,
it was just very chaotic.
I mean, it's tough. It's tough
to make a living. It really is.
Trying to, you know,
make records to a high standard
with real musicians on them,
it costs money
which I didn't have.
I remember at
the "Blue Notebooks" sessions,
we recorded it in one day.
One afternoon, in fact,
with the strings,
cos that's the money we had.
And I remember trying
to get home from a session
and not being able to get
any money out of the bank
because we had no money.
That's the constant
question for artists, isn't it?
Do you persevere?
When he did
"Vivaldi Recomposed",
he was still walking
40, 60 minutes across town
to interviews because
we couldn't afford the fare
and we certainly went
through many years
where we would feed the children
rather than ourselves.
I mean, most people do not make
a living in any art form,
so what do you do
when you're faced with that
and you have children?
You're so responsible
for these little people
and you can't muck it up.
Not bad, Al! Only played that
all summer. Pretty nice.
I got that one wrong.
I didn't do that one.
Yeah, but you did it the same
both times, so it's cool.
That was really nice.
Really nice.
I mean, I didn't support
the family for years.
We just kind of scratched by.
And I think if I had been able
to imagine doing anything else,
I probably would have.
Eventually, I got ill,
because I was just so
You just think you're somehow
invincible, don't you?
And you keep going.
Your body's showing you
all the signs of,
"You can stop now,"
and you go, "No, no, it's OK.
I can keep going."
Obviously, you can't in the end,
so I did become quite sick.
I guess it's the first
time I'd really thought about
how we're living our lives,
how I'm...what I'm doing.
I mean, of course it's...
You know,
the fact of our mortality
is real,
but it's only real
when it's real, you know,
because we keep it away.
We keep those thoughts away
by doing other things.
Quite a big bit of thinking
about what to, you know...
what those things mean,
but then do what, you know?
Give up and do what?
I don't know.
I guess things do add up
over time, you know.
And "Blue Notebooks" did sort
of catch people's ears somehow.
It just seemed to...
It started something.
I mean, we got the opportunity
to premiere "Memoryhouse"
ten years after it was released,
which we did in the Barbican
in London.
The place was full and it was
like, you know, a love-in.
It was like a homecoming.
There was something wonderful
about that, you know.
To just kind of keep going
and ten years later here we are.
Writing a piece like
"Sleep" takes over two years.
So those two years
have to be funded.
And the way we found
our way through eventually
was we came up with
a little formula, actually,
of how to feed ourselves,
which was
that Max would do film work
and that film work,
the money would go back
into the art, always.
So he could, at night,
work on "Sleep".
I got into the habit
of writing at night
when the kids were small.
We used to put them to bed
and then I guess my work days
were kind of
eight or nine o'clock
in the evening to about three.
Sort of. Something like that.
Until I kind of fell off
my chair, basically.
In a way, making creative things
is also kind of...
I feel like it's a kind of
self-medicating in a way.
So you write the piece that
you wish someone had written
so you can listen to it.
This sort of slightly obsessive
involvement with music
probably kept me going.
To the edge
of the woods before...
'Cause we don't want to be
in the dark.
Well, I don't mind
being in the dark.
It's kind of adventurous...
I think of making a piece
of writing and creative work
as sort of... It's like moving
from a space which we know
into a space we don't know.
And that's
the kind of interesting part.
And actually it hardly matters
what's there.
It's that little process
of just stepping out
into somewhere you don't know.
At a certain point, it's almost
like the piece starts dreaming.
I am a visual artist,
so I'm very project-oriented.
I'm making projects that usually
take a year or two to complete,
so there's a lot of things
to work out.
This, because it was
so durational,
gave me the opportunity
to resolve some questions
that I was having about
what direction I was taking
with certain things.
My mind was wandering
and things were happening,
but that music was there and
it was permeating into my mind.
It's one thing
that really intrigues me
about this project of his
that he certainly had intentions
when he started it,
but knowing what that experience
would be like for other people
and those random factors
that come in...
What influence is a sound
on what's happening in your mind
as you're kind of drifting off.
I am kind of at a point in life
where I feel like
I need to make the best use
of my time
and time is something
that's really important.
I mean, daily life is hectic
when you have a family
and you're worrying about
pick-up time from school
and trying to balance
everything else out,
trying to fit in everything
I want to fit in the day
in the time that I have.
Mixing that
with my own personal work
and then just kind of keeping
our house in order. It's busy.
When you have
these other factors involved,
like Max has, you know,
people that are laying on cots
and listening to that music,
how does that change it?
What does that do?
I'm intrigued
with starting with an idea
and seeing how does it shape
and form and change
as you introduce other people
into it,
as everybody, I'm sure, had
their own unique experience.
I don't know
who these people are,
you know,
what has drawn them here.
Experiencing "Sleep" live is
really not like anything else.
Who does this?
Who makes, you know,
an eight-hour-long
musical composition
that lasts that duration,
that's set up
for people to fall asleep to?
It's not like anything else.
When I sit down at the piano
at the beginning of the night,
there are 200-something pages
of piano music to play through.
You know, it's a big score,
which plays
from beginning to end.
I'm probably on the stage
for about seven-and-a-half
of the eight hours.
Something like that, overall.
Which is a lot.
I get breaks, just to kind of
grab a bite to eat
or a cup of coffee or something.
And, in fact,
all the players get breaks.
It's very tough
on the string players, actually.
A lot of the pieces
use very sustained tones.
Very quiet, you know,
which is the hardest thing
for string players to do.
I kind of kidded myself
when we first started doing it
that it was fine, everyone
would be fine, no problem.
But it is actually a problem.
It's really hard.
It's just really physically
and mentally tough.
First of all to be concentrating
for that amount of time,
cos even though, you know,
I'm a pianist,
you know,
the notes come into your eyes
and they come out
of your fingers,
that bit is sort of automatic,
but you're still having
to concentrate.
Doing anything solidly
for eight hours is hard.
And, you know, you get achy
and stiff and sore
and, yeah, it's tough.
I love to just come off
the stage
on one of my little breaks,
just to hear it.
Out in the house we have this
sort of magical cathedral sound,
you know, and I love that sound.
That's the sound
that the piece was written for.
So I just wander around
and have a listen
and just kind of see
what people are up to.
Cos that's really nice for me,
just to kind of check in with,
you know, how everyone is
sort of finding it.
What's beautiful is just seeing
the effect
the piece is having on people.
I mean, that's an amazing thing
because you don't really ever
get to see that
in such an intimate way.
And just being able to see, you
know, somebody sleeping there,
or, you know,
doing their yoga or something
or, you know, walking about
and thinking their thoughts.
You just kind of get
a much bigger sense
of what the piece is doing.
Every performance is
really, really special.
It's one of these
sort of paradoxical things.
It's incredibly hard to do it,
but it's kind of so worth it.
It costs so much to do it
and to try and make it happen,
you know, on a personal level
and yet it's so satisfying.
Every second is
a deliberate second.
Every note is deliberate.
So it was a massive undertaking
and that's what's amazing to me,
I suppose,
that somebody can do that,
that they have that much staying
power with a creative project
that they can see
something like this through.
And that he can perform it.
I mean, I don't think I could.
I couldn't play for eight hours
That's what he's brought to me
and my work,
his seeing through the...
seeing through difficulties.
It's made me more of a fighter
for what I believe in
and more committed, in a way,
to shaking things up
and trying new things, you know,
and not stopping.
You know, when we were young
and he was putting out his work,
year after year after year,
and, you know, when you're young
and you're starting out,
you do get kicked around a lot
and some of the things
that happened to him,
I would just...I mean,
would have sent me to bed,
crying, and yet he is...
It's just a river passing by
for him.
I remember talking
to Yulia about this at the time,
you know,
and I was making decisions
about how
the "Blue Notebooks" should be
and what we would do with it,
and she said, "The thing is,
you know, if the record fails,
and you've made compromises,
then you're going to be
really annoyed,
but if it fails and you did
exactly what you wanted,
then who cares?"
So that's always been the M.O.
sort of going forward.
Just kind of
always bet the farm.
We didn't have a farm!
But, you know,
we always bet the farm.
For me,
it's all about Max's smile.
He could have been anybody.
I don't care what he does!
I mean, I don't care
what Max does.
He doesn't have to be
a composer for me.
I love his smile and I still
love his smile 27 years later,
so it's all about that really.
He's a vulnerable man
and, musically,
he's not afraid to show it
and I think he's not afraid
to talk about vulnerability
and that's something
quite precious
because everybody there is
vulnerable in that moment
when they're all sleeping
in a room together.
And I think that fragility
and vulnerability in life
is something that he wants
to talk about.
It goes right the way through
to an understanding of the world
and humaneness, I would say, is
the big word we try, you know...
I mean, we're all flawed
human beings, right?
We don't manage it all the time!
Or most of the time.
But we try,
and that's the thing, isn't it?
I have such admiration
for his determination
and his perseverance.
The fact that he can just...
He does it, you know.
That's a big thing for me.
I think my admiration for him
has increased
through this project.
Their collaboration
is so gorgeous.
To be ambitious
for something that ethereal
is an...unusual thing.
I don't see it that much.
I see people ambitious
for large objects
that will stay there forever.
I see people be ambitious
for movies or something,
but to be ambitious
for a moment at night
with strangers together?
I just think
that's...that's just glorious.
Experiences like this
I think remind people
that even in a world where
people are very busy,
that if you were to place
the arts back into society
there are these rejuvenating
types of experiences
that can happen between people.
By having an eight-hour
in a world where three minutes
is what is commercially viable,
I think that already flips
expectations on its head.
I teach. I also play.
And my mission,
first and foremost,
when working with new students
is, typically,
to get them to realise
that the sounds that you hear,
you can wield them as well.
You have the ability
to make meaning out of sound.
It's like the craziest magic.
And then by having
that sort of instrumentation,
I think it says you could have
a violin or a cello
right next to a synthesiser.
That gives them
a window into something
they may not have known
they didn't know
and gives them the tools
to maybe be
the next Max Richter.
I don't know. Maybe.
I took the spectrum,
the sonic spectrum,
that the unborn baby hears
in the womb,
which is basically
no high frequencies
because the mother's body
filters all of those.
So I've used that spectrum
for almost the entire piece.
And then,
around sort of seven hours,
the spectrum opens up so you get
more and more high frequencies.
So there's kind of a sunrise.
An acoustic sunrise.
I think there's something very
fundamental about that spectrum
because that obviously goes
to our first memories
of being a person.
Even before we're born,
we have this auditory memory
which has
a very particular colour.
So that's how the sort of sonics
of the piece work on us.
5:49 a.m. Awake.
Just saw a stray cat,
lots of sleeping people.
Feel quite rested. Very alert.
A little emotional.
People actually
were pretty respectful.
Not a lot of chatter.
There was a woman
with a bathing suit on.
A guy with
a "rock, paper, scissor" tattoo
that I thought
was sign language.
It made me reflect
on my relationship,
knowing all the difficulties
that we've been through
as a couple,
all the tears, all the fights.
It's all worth it,
like, to be with Terri
because I love her so much.
I was asleep for some
of it and awake for some of it
and it kind of just blended
with dreaming.
It was restful, but it was
like a journey as well.
There's parts of it
that I recognise
and there's parts where I go,
"Was I asleep?"
I don't even remember anymore
because it was all very fluid.
Falling asleep around
a lot of people we didn't know,
just seeing how other people
interact with the music as well,
it was really insightful
and moving.
It takes years
to get to the place
where it really starts
and can really take off.
I feel like we're at
the beginning of something.
Just starting, really. And
that's what's incredible for us.
What if you slept?
And what if, in your sleep,
you dreamed?
And what if, in your dreams,
you went to heaven
and there you plucked
a strange and beautiful flower?
And what if, when you awoke,
you had that flower
in your hand?
Ah, what then?
It was kind of like...
a wave would come over you
and just wake you.
You'd hear just like the rub
of the strings - rrrrr!
It felt almost like a massage,
but inside.
I'm still in a trance, I think.
And in my head there's
a whole world of creatures.
The woman who sang,
it was like a mermaid
that was singing to me
that wanted to grab me
and pull me into the ocean.
Max was for me a kind of fox.
Very gentle,
but also very sneaky, in a way,
that he trapped us
from minute one.
He just did it in such
a beautiful, elegant way.