April was a busy month for three-piece slowcore act Little White Teeth. Apart from recording 13 songs in a blistering four-day session with Pall Jenkins at his SDRL studios and a trip to Japan, (where drummer Yuko Sugiyama is from), the band managed to record the score for a documentary on the challenges of living in Tijuana — Tijuaneado Anonimos: A Teardrop, A Smile — by members of visual-arts collective Galatea Productions.
The documentary’s producer, José Luis Figueroa, approached Phil Beaumont, bassist-vocalist for Little White Teeth, in April.
“At first, I didn’t think we could do it, time-wise. We had two weeks to record it,” Beaumont says in our August 5 phone interview. “But, I really like doing scores for movies. I like having the content to write about and having the mood to set it to. It gives you a nice target.”
So, despite the time crunch, the band told Figueroa they’d give it a try. Before recording, Beaumont, Sugiyama, and guitarist Dmitri Dziensuwski watched the documentary in their studio and talked about the moods and shared ideas about what the score should sound like.
“I speak some Spanish, but I’m not fluent, so I relied on the imagery and mood more than anything,” says Beaumont.
After watching the documentary, the band improvised for “about 20 minutes,” recording all of the tracks as they played. A few days later, they shared the impromptu tunes with Figueroa and his colleagues.
“They took to it quickly,” says Beaumont, “so all we had to do was go back and clean things up, and we were done.”
Three months later and a few days before our conversation, Beaumont got a call from Figueroa, who was planning to take the score and release it as a soundtrack. Figueroa said the documentary had been selected for this year’s Morelia International Film Festival in Michoacán, Mexico, this October.
For Beaumont, one of the highlights of the experience was working with Figueroa and Galatea. Of course, the surprise payment didn’t hurt.
“I wanted to be a part of it and assumed we weren’t going to get paid, but we got decent money for it. It should cover the recording we did at SDRL.”
Little White Teeth play the Ruby Room Saturday, August 15.