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Local musical artist partners with the Walker Art Center to create music for selected silent films

The Walker’s “Sound for Silents” event is back with artist FPA set to perform her newly written compositions alongside three short films August 19 on the Walker grounds.
Frances Priya, also referred to as FPA, is this year’s featured artist for the Walker Art Center’s “Sound for Silents” event. Priya is a multidisciplinary artist from Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Frances Priya.

Local multidisciplinary artist from Minneapolis, FPA, aka Frances Priya, is this year’s featured artist for the Walker Art Center’s “Sound for Silents” event. Now in its fifth year, the program commissions artists to create new original scores for several selected silent films.

Drawing on three works from the Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection, FPA will perform her newly composed scores at a live screening of the films on the Walker hillside. Set for August 19, FPA will perform her scores for “Sound for Silents” alongside Patrick Horigan (keys, guitar), Madison Hallman (vox), Jon Lindquist (percussion) and DeCarlo Jackson (trumpet, bass).

The short films that will be shown will be “Jefferson Circus Songs” by Suzan Pitt, “Bowling Alley” by Shu Lea Cheang and “Horizontal Boundaries” by Pat O’Neill.

From her unique flow and delivery to her dreamy lo-fi production, FPA’s sound is entirely her own. Her self-produced 2019 debut album, “Yang Chen,” offers a lush, laid back listening experience over the project’s eight tracks. Her second album, “Princess Wiko” is set to release in the fall of 2021.

FPA spoke with A&E about her process creating music for Walker’s selected films.

Where do you start when taking on a project like this?

I started with chords and chord structures to develop the kind of mood for each video and each scene in each video. I think harmony is really important to establish the mood, and I think that that’s one thing I probably go to first and then everything else is secondary.

How does creating music for a project like this differ from the approach you took to making your album?

I think my own album is very much my own, top to bottom, and I feel like this is more of a collaborative thing. I feel like I’m adding another element to something that’s already created so it doesn’t feel like I can just do whatever I want. I can do what just like the universe is already here but I can’t just create a whole new world.

Which of the films did you find most inspiring to score as the composer?

I guess “Horizontal Boundaries” or “Jefferson Circus.” It’s probably a tie between them. The “Horizontal Boundaries” I love just because it’s really beautiful, a lot of just landscape images and things like that are really nice to look at.

As a Minneapolis local, what is it like to partner with a citywide staple such as the Walker?

I’m grateful for the experience. It’s always nice to do something like this. I think for me, whether it’s the Walker or anything else, it’s just cool to be able to compose to films, especially ones that are super interesting, dynamic and beautiful.

What type of experience are you hoping to create for audience members?

I just hope that they feel something, I think that’s the goal of this. Yes, to be entertained of course, but I want them to feel as many things as possible in 50 minutes.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length

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