Interview by Ryan Bray
Even in his earliest days fronting the conceptual D.C. post-punk outfit Shudder To Think, Craig Wedren fostered a love for both music and film—but bringing the two sides of his artistic persona together hasn’t always been easy.
“Shudder To Think was very frustrated in the ‘90s, because we were trying to expand into film scoring,” says Wedren, who since the band’s disbandment has built a career as an in-demand film score composer. “We wanted to do both, but at the time, it didn’t really make sense, because everything was so siloed. Our record company was like, ‘Well, what are you? Are you a band? Are you composers? What is this?’”
However, in today’s rapidly changing technological landscape, Wedren has found a way to indulge his love of music and film without compartmentalizing the two. With no bandmates or labels to make concessions to, his fourth solo record, Adult Desire, is a testament to that freedom. Released in December of 2017 via his own imprint Tough Lover and Dischord Records, the pop art project merges experimental songwriting and 360-degree panoramic video.
Wedren calls Adult Desire an act of rebellion against the deadlines and heavy scheduling that dictates his film scoring work, which has included music for such films as “School of Rock” and the summer camp sendup “Wet Hot American Summer.”
“I got so busy for a while that I realized I wasn’t privileging my own music as much as felt healthy,” he says. “I just started blocking out time to work on whatever I felt like working on.”
The record’s 14 songs include some that grew out of reworked ideas from previous film projects and others written specifically for the record. The end result is a record without walls, a sonic safe space where acoustic guitars, synthesizers, keyboards, and other playful effects all live together in strange, experimental harmony. “It was a total sonic sandbox,” Wedren says of making the record. “There were all these new synths and sounds and plugins that I just wanted to explore. In a way, it’s kind of like Bowie stuff, like, ‘What does this thing do?’”
But Adult Desire’s disregard for genre tags is only half the fun. The Adult Desire 360 mobile app—which is free to download—features randomized slice-of-life video clips shot on a 360-degree panoramic camera that accompany the record’s songs. All shot by Wedren in and around his L.A. home, there are clips of his cactus garden, of his family sharing meals, and of his son brushing his teeth, among others. Fans also have the option to purchase the record along with a set of virtual reality goggles to further enhance the effect.
“For me, it was about: ‘How do we get people to listen deeply to this music?’—because there’s so much music around us, so much noise and static,” he says. “There’s so much visual assault that happens every day, I wanted to quietly but seductively bring people back to the music.”
Wedren has flirted with panoramic video in the past. He wrote a feature film around his last solo record, 2011’s WAND, but apart from a few music videos, the film never materialized. “There were only three people on the North American continent that even had the  gear,” he recalls.
But as 360 technology has become more normalized in the years since, Wedren saw the opportunity to give the idea another shot. He developed the Adult Desire app with the help of Battery drummer and composer Jacob Richards. “We really just bushwhacked our way through,” the vocalist says of the project. “While it’s always been about music and image for me, it’s sometimes a bullseye and, other times, a little off mic, where it’s close but not quite it. So, Adult Desire and the app, for me right now, just feels like a bullseye.”
Top photo by Jaret Ferratusco