Voice from the Stone is a haunting thriller, set in 1950s Tuscany, that tells the story of Verena (Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke), a determined young nursed hired to help a young mute boy, who she realizes has fallen under the spell of a powerful and otherworldly persona trapped in the stone walls of the isolated castle in which he lives. After being contacted by the film’s director, Eric Howell, about writing a song for the film, singer/songwriter Amy Lee (the frontwoman for the band Evanescence) watched it and was inspired by the strong bond of love between a mother and her son, and the belief that love is stronger than death, which compelled her to contribute “Speak to Me,” as her own emotional layer.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, Amy Lee talked about getting involved with Voice from the Stone, how much the film inspired her, her incredible experience recording at Skywalker Ranch, why she doesn’t want to cross her solo music with Evanescence, how the songs take on their own life when she’s playing live, and why she feels so completely fulfilled, as an artist.
Collider: How did your involvement with Voice from the Stone come about? Had you been looking to do more songwriting for film?
AMY LEE: I put the word out there after Fallen came out, and I’ve done quite a few things. I’ve done some cool different little collaborative film things that have come out. Doing a score is a much bigger project. It’s harder work with less attention, in some ways. I did my first score with Dave Eggar and Chuck Palmer in 2014, for a movie called War Story. That was not only the songs that were on it, but we finished the songs that we loved that didn’t make it, and we did a score and soundtrack album, called Aftermath, that we based on that. That was really fun. I also did another score with Dave Eggar, for a score for a film coming out this year, called Blind, with Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore. I love doing that and being a part of a project that’s bigger than myself.
Definitely the core of my musical career has been Evanescence, and that’s all about me. I hope that doesn’t come off wrong, but it’s all about my feelings, my heart, and my vision. It very much is about me, and it’s about Evanescence, which at this point definitely has its own life. I have to be true to myself and true to Evanescence, at the same time, when I do an Evanescence album. Sometimes it’s nice to just be a part of something bigger than you. It gives you a different headspace. You’re not just writing all about yourself. You’re actually aiming it towards a character, a feeling of a scene, or the emotion of a moment, which makes you make different choices and do different things. For me, that makes me a better writer. It’s also cool because there’s this big, beautiful film happening and my job is to make it feel more. It’s kind of like singing in a choir, where the whole is greater than something you could do by yourself. It feels good to be involved in a project like that, and I want to keep doing it.
Do you typically want to see a film before committing to writing a song for it?
LEE: I definitely do! And this one came from the fact that the director (Eric Howell) thought of me specifically for it, which is awesome. He was like, “I just have a vision that it could be really cool, if you wanted to make a song for my film.” And I was like, “Okay!” And then, he let me see it. That’s how it started. He wanted me to check it out to see how I felt. I think I would have a hard time writing for something, if I didn’t think that it was really good. I don’t think that I would do it. And I’ve said no to a lot of little things. It takes me going, “Yes, this rules, and I have an inspired idea about it.”
So, I watched the film and loved it. It’s so beautiful. And when I first saw it, it wasn’t finished. The score was in demo form and it hadn’t been edited, all the way. They were still working on it, but I felt so many feelings, with this beautiful romance happening, and it being very suspenseful and scary, and also just very beautiful. It’s about this deep, strong love between a mother and son that couldn’t be divided, even by death. For me, that was extremely powerful because I was a new mother of a son. The place that I needed to write from was from the perspective of the deceased mother of the boy who’s the central character, and she was a classical singer and piano player. She’s an artist/singer who also is this maternal role from the other side, singing to him. I was like, “There is no way that this could have been more me! It’s meant to be me, it has to be me, and I’m writing this song!”
It definitely wasn’t a stretch, in any way, for me to put myself exactly in the spot where I needed to be to write this song. So, I told him I loved it, and I had a really amazing conversation on the phone with Eric Howell and Michael Wandmacher, the score composer, directly after watching it, and we all were just really on the same page. We were finishing each other’s sentences and we had the same vision for what the song at the end should be. I just went directly to the piano and came up with the initial idea in an hour. Not the whole song. I’ve never written a whole song in an hour. So, I got the initial idea and sent it to them, and they really loved it.
And is it true that you recorded this at Skywalker Ranch?
Yes! They invited me to come out to where they were, which was at Skywalker Ranch, where they were doing all of the audio mixing for their film. They were like, “Hey, we’re out here for a few more days. We love the song, and you should fly out here and finish it and record it. We’re at one of the greatest recording studios in the world, here.” I’d never been away from my son before, at that point, so it was hard. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I was like, “I have to do this. This is a really cool opportunity. I may never get to do this, ever again, in my entire life. I’ve gotta go!” I was only away from him for three days, but that was the very first time that we were apart, so it was hard. It was all the way across the country, too, so that was extra freaky. But it put me in exactly the right place, emotionally, to sing and write from that emotional place that I needed to be in.