Linda Perry’s career-establishing hit, the classic 4 Non Blondes song “What’s Up,” has been reimagined by Canadian musician FJØRA for the “Welcome to Blumhouse” trailer. “Welcome to Blumhouse” is a program of eight new Blumhouse-produced movies bowing on Prime Video Oct. 6, centering around family and love as redemptive or destructive forces.
The official trailer teases the first four films in the series (“The Lie,” “Black Box,” (Oct. 6) “Evil Eye and “Nocturne”- Oct. 13 ) against FJØRA’s haunting vocals and dark reworking of the 1992 song.
Speaking with Variety, FJØRA and Perry discussed their collaboration and why the veteran singer-songwriter-producer thought FJØRA was the perfect artist to reimagine the song.
When Amazon and Blumhouse came to you asking to reimagine “What’s Up?,” what were some of the early conversations you had surrounding it?
Linda Perry: You have to completely abandon the song, and a lot of people are afraid to do that with a song like “What’s Up?” It’s a classic. It will forever be a classic. So it was a little intimidating, but I called FJØRA and asked her if she wanted to rip the song apart and make it all dark.
I didn’t have to go very far because her style already fit that and that’s why she entered my brain. I knew she would do a version of it that would be exactly what they were looking for.I had no emotional problems at all. I knew I picked the right person. Emotionally, I felt I was in good hands because I knew instinctively FJØRA was going to capture a different emotion from the song. As a songwriter, how awesome is it when someone comes to you and says they want to use your song? But it also gives you an idea of the version that FJØRA and what you’re saying about how people are going to love this song – well, we did our job.
FJØRA: I think with Amazon wanting it to be this dark and twisted thing was perfect. I come from a classical background and that sound just seeps in. So, I said, “Yeah, I’m in.”
What sounds did you use to build the track to give it that haunting and creepy feeling that it has?
FJØRA: I was very grateful because it was an open dialogue between everybody involved from Linda to the Amazon crew. Early on, we knew it was going to be twisted and dark, and that resonates with my soul.
It was about moving forward from there and finding a harmonic progression chord-wise. The foundation was super important. Once I had that, I had fun with it. There were sound elements with footsteps and ticking. Electronic elements gave it the grit. And I filled it out orchestrally with strings and piano interleaves. The vocal presence just makes it special, so you end up with all these layers and harmonic complexities.
What was it like hearing this new dark twisty vibe to a classic song that was your baby? Did you feel protective at all about it?
Perry: For me, I love hearing any song completely redone. Amazon wanted the song completely reimagined. I barely said anything to her because if I did, I’d have to choose someone else and be more hands-on, and they wouldn’t be able to deliver.
With a project like this, I wasn’t thinking from my ego, it was about getting the job done. That’s what makes a great leader: putting people in place that are going to protect your castle. I knew she would be respectful and knock it out of the park, and she did.
What was the process of putting it together, did it take a long time?
FJØRA: We gave Amazon the first pass, and they had wanted it to go in a certain direction. It was dark and nuanced. It was very blown out, and they suggested to take it in another direction.
That first pass probably took two to three weeks, but it wasn’t intensive. I’d step back, have lunch and return to it with fresh ears. It felt fluid and natural. The key was we were on the same train, and I felt like I was the captain of the train.
Perry: It’s very important to understand that with these situations, the dialogue is extremely important because it can screw things up and make things take longer. A lot of things can happen with miscommunication.
They are my new favorite people right now. They have been so solid with communication and I’ve never had that experience with a company like that. You’ve got three entities happening here where people have to be on the communication wavelength. There’s a lot of people on that train that you don’t see. But you have to have massive communication with them to make sure everybody knows we’re going to the same destination.
It is my job as a producer, as a person in this business, to make sure all the kids understand that things just don’t come together like that. There are a lot of things that they need to be aware of when they’re pursuing a cinematic or music adventure or be a composer or a manager. There are a lot of things you have to remember; it’s not just about the music. there are a lot of things they need to pay attention to.
Did the song come together in quarantine. and if so, how easy or challenging was that?
FJØRA: It did. The one interesting element is that I produce and compose, and that’s why I vibe with Linda so hard; she represents all these values. Quarantine was a chance to play up those elements of production and composition and have fun with them. It forces a different way of looking at how you would approach a project and how you would approach the vision of the process itself.
Perry: Lockdown had its challenges, but I’m excited about this trailer because people are going to find this girl that is an artist and someone who has been composing. We’re going to be doing more work together.
Linda, what else have you been working on?
Perry: I don’t talk much about what I’m doing because this business changes so quickly. Like, I could be in full production on something and it is taken away tomorrow because the company folded or the band quit or whatever. But I’m heavily into scoring films and some cable shows.
I’ve completed scoring for the documentary “Citizen Penn,” about Sean Penn going to Haiti after the earthquake. I wrote a song with Bono for the end title. So there’s a lot of amazing things going on, but, I’m excited for people to hear my girl on “Welcome to Blumhouse.”