The cult Spanish film director reveals his affection for Robert Mapplethorpe, James Blake and Vicky Pollard.
I think the first film I saw in the cinema was a traditional Spanish musical, Gloria Mairena, very kitsch. I was fascinated. Not by the film as such, but by the new kind of narrative and spectacle that cinema offered. I thought that I wanted to work in that world.
Right now I’m listening to Kasper Bjørke, Sharon Jones and the Dap- Kings, James Blake, Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie X, Timber Timbre, the xx, and Peggy Lee. In [my new film] there’s a song by Trentemøller, a fantastic Danish techno group, and another beautiful one by Chris Garneau. I enjoy all genres; it depends on the time of day.
Spanish television is very bad. They’re only interested in tabloids and reality shows. I hardly see any television, but when I’ve come across an episode of Little Britain I’ve always really enjoyed it. Those guys are great. Very corrosive.
I started reading very early, before I was 10, but I had no one to talk to about books because I didn’t know anyone who read. When I’ve adapted novels [for my films], I’ve been very unfaithful to the original. In the case of Live Flesh and , the books [Live Flesh by Ruth Rendell and The Skin I Live In by Thierry Jonquet, respectively] provided free inspiration to write the script, but I never felt tied to the novel.
I used to write comics that were published in El Víbora, an underground comic magazine that was essential for all alternative Catalonian culture in the mid-Seventies. I was very influenced by punk. They were very urban stories, with pretty filthy situations.
The last exhibition I visited was one by Robert Mapplethorpe, for which I had selected the photos. There are a lot of artists whose work has influenced the cinematography of my films: Caravaggio, Edward Hopper and Velázquez. In The Skin I Live In, I pay a passionate tribute to Louise Bourgeois. In fact, the protagonist imitates several of Bourgeois’s works.
The Skin I Live In is out now