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An Interview With Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

September 15, 2009  |  8:01am
An Interview With Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Read Paste's full issue 56 cover story on Where the Wild Things Are here.

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Paste: What’s the magic in the story Where The Wild Things Are? Why do you think children and their parents open this book again and again to read about Max and the wild things?
O: I think Maurice struck on some winning formula. So much of the magic is in his voice as an illustrator and writer. The book is brimming with both darker and lighter sides of imagination—there is something bittersweet about the story, and maybe there is some hidden depth in that bittersweetness that kids connect with. ... It’s hard to pinpoint anyway, like trying to pinpoint what makes a song a hit.

Paste: How did you become part of this movie project?
O: I’m in Spike’s big-kid club. Most of the creative people that Spike works with are children trapped in grownup’s bodies. Spike came to me with the idea of the music having a similar mood to The Langley Schools Music Project, Innocence and Despair, which is a children’s choir singing melancholy pop songs by David Bowie and the Beach Boys, etc. I don’t know how close we got to that idea in the end, but the intention was to write simple melodies that were emotionally complex—something that both kids and adults would appreciate.

Paste: Did you have to think differently to write songs for a movie?
O: I tried not to think of it as writing for a movie. I knew the script and its major themes, and I let the feelings in those themes simmer under the surface for a while, and then put myself in the head of Max, the main character, and tried to write from his heart.

Paste: What’s your favorite scene in the book?
O: I like the rumpus. I love the all the devious expressions on the faces of Max and the wild things when they’re swinging in the trees. Reminds me of when I’m up to no good, looking for trouble with a posse—a night out on the town.

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