Molly Lewis Whistles Through New York

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Molly Lewis Whistles Through New York

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Molly Lewis is a master of musical whistling and a champion of the use of whistling as an art form. An audience member at her last show described her as, “A bird singing about a falling leaf”. She sometimes likens her sound to that of a human theremin. Roxy Cinema Director Illyse Singer sat down with Molly Lewis to discuss her career, love of cinema soundtracks, and excitement about New York.

How did you become interested in music and how did your career evolve?

Molly Lewis: I always loved music especially movie soundtracks as a kid, but I never thought I was a musician. I grew up playing piano and was good at whistling but that didn’t seem like a viable career. I saw a documentary called Pucker Up about a whistling competition that used to be held in North Carolina. I realized then there were other whistlers out there and I was as good as these whistling champions.

It was then I knew I had a talent. I moved to LA and started slowly getting gigs as a whistler. I really credit LA with this because it’s such a creative atmosphere that whistlers are actually needed. Sometimes I’ll get an email that says, “Urgent whistling needed”. I’ve done things for Star Trek and movies and video game soundtracks and all kinds of whistling endeavors—it’s kind of snowballed in a strange way and has been really fun.

When did you start whistling?

ML: I was whistling as a kid in high school. I kind of forgot I used to do this, but when I went to my school reunion a few years ago, people said “Oh yeah you were always whistling in the hallway.” It was just something I would do subconsciously. I would do it every day. It was a pleasant way for me to create. I’m not a great singer but I can carry tunes while whistling, it was my way to connect to music.

You just got a chance to record on the Barbie soundtrack, what was that like?

ML: This felt really wonderful because I was whistling a melody over an orchestral backing, probably a 40-piece orchestra. This beautiful orchestral score. To whistle to something like that, reminded me of a 1940s Disney film or something. It was really emotional and beautiful, and it nearly brought tears to my eyes. I was like, wow this is my dream to do scores. It felt wonderful and hopefully, I can do more scores in the future. It was a nice full-circle moment. Little Molly would be really happy!

It’s the best when your inner child approves! I know that you’re normally in LA but you’ll be living in NYC this month so I want to know what are you excited about and want to get done while you’re here…

ML: I’m the annoying out-of-town tourist! I keep being like, New York! The energy! The vibrance! It’s all I can talk about it. And everyone is like, Yeah we get it, that’s why we’re here. I can’t stop smiling. I really love it. I don’t want to leave. There is so much I want to do. I just love walking around. I love the museums, the ferry, the food and the people. I’m just excited to explore and see great movies and concerts. I have a concert of my own coming up. The musicians here are incredible and I’m excited to be in a new city meeting people and doing things. I feel very inspired and excited at the moment. But it’s like Day four. Talk to me in a few weeks I’ll be chain smoking in Times Square.

That’s where you end up in this story. Times Square of 1949, not current Times Square.

ML: Yeah not the M&M Store. We’ll see, there are many future possibilities.

 

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You will be screening Otto Preminger’s Laura in 35MM at The Roxy Cinema. One of the greatest Film Noirs. Do you want to talk about why you chose that film?

ML: I love Laura so much. When I was kid my mom and I would rent a movie every week at the local video rental store. She got me into Film Noir. We watched all of the famous noirs and Laura was my favorite. I think a lot of it has to do with the soundtrack, David Raskin. The famous theme tune “Laura” is a standard now. My mom is a wonderful pianist and she used to play it on the piano. I played it on the piano too. I just love the tune. The music, the style. I love all of the noir tropes, the hard-boiled detective and there is something about the premise and falling in love with a portrait that I’ve always found so romantic and eerie. It’s stylish and beautiful and it’s a New York Noir. Very fitting!

You have a concert at the Sultan Room on Wednesday the 12th and you’re also doing The Tell on July 11th.

ML: Yes!

Any final New York thoughts?

ML: I really love what the Mayor of New York has to say about the crystals under Manhattan causing the energy and now whenever I’m here I’m like, it’s the crystals!

All of New York State actually.

ML: I feel the energy full throttle here. I’ve been waking up at 8am and staying out late, how do I have the energy? There is a lot to explore. I love the lushness of summer here. I love the afternoon thunderstorms and getting soaked.

Molly Lewis will be at the Roxy Cinema on Saturday, July 15th presenting Laura on 35MM. There will be a small performance and Q&A. Tickets are available—here.

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