It comes as no surprise that when the Andy Warhol Museum went in search of someone to score the artist’s famous screen tests they turned immediately to Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips. The husband-and-wife indie duo (formally Dean & Britta) radiates ’60s-influenced Factory-era cool, and their sound-a mix of garagey minimalism, slow guitar builds, and hushed vocals-begs comparison to the Warhol’s beloved Velvet Underground. This Saturday, October 10, Dean & Britta will perform 13 Most Beautiful, a 75-minute collection of original and cover songs set to 13 of the screen tests, at UCSB’s Campbell Hall. For tickets and info, visit artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu. Below, Wareham shares his thoughts about the project.
1) The Backstory: After being called upon to create music to Warhol’s long-shrouded screen tests, it was up to Dean & Britta to pick their subjects and plan their attack, which meant an extensive search through hundreds of tests and lots of Factory literature. “We read every account of those years that we could,” explained Wareham. “And the more we read and learned about the people who were there every day, we decided that those were the ones we should focus on, rather than a random famous person who happened to be at the Factory that day.”
2) The Players: In addition to Factory stars like Edie Sedgwick, Dennis Hopper, Lou Reed, and Nico, 13 Most Beautiful incorporates some of Warhol’s lesser known test subjects, including Ingrid Superstar, Paul America, and Billy Name. “I didn’t know much about Billy, but he’s an incredibly important collaborator of Warhol’s,” explained Wareham. “He was the one that painted the Factory silver and lit the films. He brought in all the druggies as well.”
3) The Reaction: “[Lou Reed] saw the show in New York at the Allen Room : and he said he loved it,” recalled Wareham. “He hadn’t seen the films since they were made, 42 years or something. I think it must have been kind of weird for him. It was weird for us, playing with his big face on the screen behind us and then having him in the audience. And for him, watching all his friends from when he was 21 years old on this little film that he hadn’t seen since then. It was like pulling out an old photo album or watching home movies, but in this really fancy room.”