Simon Fisher Turner
From child actor to teenage pop idol, self-confessed 'extreme sound freak' to acclaimed solo recording artist, Simon Fisher Turner's career has been nothing if not varied. His early acting credits included film and TV roles from Black Beauty to The Big Sleep (re-made with Robert Mitchum). At the same time he was fronting various '70s pop acts, and at the age of 17 was signed to Jonathan King's UK Records, releasing his first solo album in 1969.
After that precocious start, Simon followed an often eccentric, sometimes outlandish musical path. He operated on the fringes of punk; performed briefly with The The; became 'Musician in Residence' at the ICA in 1980; and released two albums as one half of a fictional French female duo known as Deux Filles. But through all this, Simon was developing a deep and abiding interest in the stuff of sound, accumulating a vast library of collected sounds from daily life. It is this interest which now forms the basis of his improvisatory, eclectic approach to music making, and is manifest on his most recent solo albums on the Mute Label (his discography comprises some 30 solo albums to date). From trite pop to extreme sound-freakery, the mature SFT (as he now styles himself) has arrived at a mesmeric originality.
Simon's life as a film composer stems from his association with Derek Jarman in the 1980s and '90s. His scoring credits for Jarman included Caravaggio, The Last of England, The Garden and Edward II. His final film for Jarman was the powerful, poignant Blue, where a soundscape recorded by Simon at Brian Eno's country house, together with Jarman's AIDS-inspired spoken words, stood in for visuals - only a blue screen was projected. The film won a Michael Powell Award. Simon subsequently toured Blue around the world, performing his music at live screenings.
In May 2014 Simon won an Ivor Novello award for his score for the BFI National Archive’s restoration of the 1924 film The Epic of Everest (directed by Captain John Noel), the official film record of Mallory and Irvine’s ill-fated 1924 Everest expedition. The score is a collage of instrumental and ‘found’ sounds, “made possible” (according to SFT himself) “by the internet connections we have these days. It’s a soundtrack made from found and stolen life sounds, alongside new music and fake foleys.”
However Simon is nothing if not adaptable, and his range is broad. As well as film projects in which his vivid imagination can take wing, he has worked on many commercial advertising campaigns (including, most recently, an extensive campaign for Tesco in 2012/13), Idents (including the BBC1 ‘Helicopter’ Ident), and documentaries.