Tonight You're Sleeping with Me
Tonight You’re Sleeping with Me

Anna Kang fell in love with making music as a very young child. For her, it wasn’t about attention from an audience but rather a far more pure and poetic path. She relates, “I began playing music at five-years-old and naturally followed my destiny as an artist after finding my musical gift. I am still doing art without taking another path because of ‘freedom’. Only art frees me and extends my thoughts to areas beyond rationality. This offers an entirely different path to living life more colorfully.” That sense of pure artistry and adventure has been utilized by filmmakers all over the world with the original scores Ms. Kang has created. Deeply committed to aiding the vision of a filmmaker to be manifested, Anna utilizes both traditional and unconventional instrumentation for sounds that uniquely match the tone and genre of these productions. You’re as likely to see her work on Netflix as in a film theater in South Korea. Anna is that most potent breed of artist whose compositions are as palpable to the arthouse crowd as they are to the mainstream. 

Jeong-Ah's Load
Jeong-Ah’s Load

  Director Yong Suk Choi’s Eco Creator Award–winning film Black Swan is ecological Sci-Fi at its best. This 2022 release never openly states what disastrous events led to the Dystopian state of Seoul but it’s not hard to connect the dots. The film centers around a young woman named Sujin and her daily experiences living in a world which presents new and unseen threats. From the first seconds of this film, it’s the music which tells us something is very wrong in this environment. In composing the score of Black Swan, Anna wanted to avoid the obvious and create music that would be unsettling because of its unfamiliar quality. She describes, “I excluded the intense and superficial sounds and instead sampled sounds that were initially ordinary but gradually mutated and evoked anxiety. This transformed sound is enhanced by adding other sound sources and reaches a climax in Sujin’s extreme close-up shot with a gas mask at the end of the scene. In Climax, the violin’s tearing harmonics sound is superimposed to release the accumulated energy at once. I was cautious even in adding minor sounds to maximize this effect. Thus, the opening music was born to match the pace and color of the director’s intention.”  In one of the most intense scenes of the film in which Sujin succumbs to what appears to be a biological pathogen, the contributions of Ms. Kang are prominent and powerful. In the ending scene, the music disappears with only Sujin’s rough breathing left to perceive. The screen is immediately blacked out and the subject is handed over to the audience. Anna’s decision to use sampled breathing sounds and blend them with dark ambient tones and bass produces a heaviness that reinforces this dark ending. Anna Kang’s compositions set the tone of this film and it would not convey such compelling sonic storytelling but for her creative and technical vision.

Black Swan
Black Swan

  Jeong-Ah’s Load is about the relationship between a mother and daughter. CIESFF Award–nominated, this film presents the tensions of two generations who, though not particularly close, resign to love each other in spite of their differences. Director Ah-in Yoo has repeatedly expressed how vital this film’s soundtrack, composed and mixed by Ms. Kang, is to achieving the emotional tone she desired. Ah-in Yoo declares, “Anna’s outstanding output comes from her extraordinary power of observation and creativity. She has an excellent ability to analyze the footage. Sometimes she analyzes characters and sequences more affectionately than I, the director, do. That is her distinction. Also, she creates a new musical language that has never been seen before through persevering exploration and challenge. That is my definition of creativity and why I hold her in high esteem.” The essence of Jeong-Ah’s Load is the story is a mother and daughter who have continued to grow during the time they have been apart. Even a close familial bond such as this faces the strain of time. Capturing this feeling is a complex task; one which Anna has achieved with moments of drama and of levity. She explains, “The challenge in this movie was to relax. Since the film depicts the characters’ emotions in detail and the storyline is quite dramatic, I spent much time interpreting it and took a severe approach at first. It was an exemplary method, but different from what we eventually decided on. Director Ah-in Yoo’s works are mostly drama genres dealing with everyday subjects but her directing is unique. She uses objects or places symbolically rather than listing the dialogues. In particular, the market sequence, which is the heart of ‘Jeong-Ah’s Load’, is a type of art that only Yoo could create. Like taking a picture of the market, shortcuts are quickly switched like a montage technique and bold video effects are added. I approached this scene based on Jeong-ah’s confused feelings. However, she wanted the market sequence to be drawn exaggeratedly and symbolically, like a cartoon, which I never expected. So I reduced the dramatic energy and focused only on the picture and directing. Of course, this is a challenge in many ways, but it is a thrill I can only feel from working with Yoo.” 

Anna Kang
Anna Kang

Anna Kang is currently working on the upcoming Netflix original film Tonight You’re Sleeping with Me as well as productions for Disney and Amazon.

Writer: Basil Thomson

By Punit