How director Lars Von Trier inspired one of Tame Impala’s best songs
Music and film have an intrinsic relationship, both seeking inspiration from one another at any given opportunity. Even some the most creative souls on the planet, such as Tame Impala’s enigmatic leader Kevin Parker, need to take inspiration from other aspects of life, borrowing an idea which they can potentially navigate in a different way or a story arc to latch onto and transform into a completely new space—something the Australian musician did with potency after witnessing a film by controversial director Lars Von Trier.
It’s hard to believe that a talented individual as forward-thinking as Parker can struggle with the invention of ideas but, sometimes, the brain just needs an outside force to awaken the mind. Tame Impala’s breakout 2012 album Lonerism dealt with, as the title of as the name suggests, feelings of isolation and loneliness—a record which saw Parker find an audience larger than his wildest dreams could have foreseen. The album, of course, features the huge singles ‘Elephant’ and ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ but it was almost faultless and didn’t have a dud.
Parker, speaking earlier this year when quizzed on the concept of creator’s block, said that “It’s actually the creative side when I have the times where I’m like, ‘Oh fuck, I can’t do this’ or ‘I’m never going to get to a point where I’m happy with this album.’ Even though that creative side’s what I’m best at, that’s the only time where I’m like, ‘Aargh! Fuck this!’”
One of the most beloved tracks on the album, and most adored Tame Impala efforts from their whole repertoire, is ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ a number which was born out of a creative struggle that ended after Parker caught the 2011 Lars Von Trier film Melancholia. The science-fiction drama, which was written and directed by Von Trier and starred the likes of Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland and Alexander Skarsgård, emerged as a major critical success.
The film’s story revolves around two sisters, one of whom is preparing to marry, just before a rogue planet is about to collide with Earth. The theme to the film is remarkably similar to the one that Parker dealt with on Lonerism, one in which he was working on at the time of seeing Melancholia and something just struck a chord with him immediately. It would be this them that would eventually bleed into the creation of ‘Apocalypse Dreams’. The track also marked an important moment in the career of Tame Impala, a song written by Parker with keyboardist Jay Watson, marking the first time that he has co-written a song for the project.
Melancholia embodies the spirit of Lonerism, which Kevin Parker labelled to Vogue AU as “to describe the whole outsider thing. If someone is an outsider, it’s meant to describe that as being a way of life,” the Tame Impala man said. “Something that’s in someone’s blood. As opposed to just a feeling, it’s meant to be like a calling or a destiny. Basically, it’s about someone discovering that being separated from the rest of the world is something that they have to do,” he added.
The interviewer then asked Parker about the influence of Von Trier’s 2011 film on his creative process when creating the record and ‘Apocolypse Dreams’. “I wouldn’t say it had a direct influence on me, but I really liked it,” Parker revealed. “I wrote the song ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, and when I saw the movie it made me happy that I’d recorded the song because the two seemed to fit together nicely.”
As Parker states, the film fits together perfectly with the track and thankfully YouTube user Banda Turibos who blended ‘Apocolypse Dreams’ with Melancholiawhich is an absolute joy to witness — take a few minutes and bliss out.