Saturday, 21 April 2012

Interview - The Saw Lady

As mentioned in my previous post, the main highlight of our first year has been receiving a comment from the Saw Lady ( amazingly enough, that's not her birth name - that would be Natalia Paruz). It seemed fitting that she should be the subject of the first obscurendure review.

In England, most children's first experience of playing a musical instrument is playing the recorder (or miming in my case). Why did you decide to play the saw rather than a more traditional instrument?

I went through traditional instruments as a kid, too - started with a recorder, learned some piano & guitar, but none of the traditional instruments stuck with me. The reason why I love unusual musical instruments is because there is usually a striking visual that goes along with the sound, and also there is a degree of whimsy. Also - it's a greater challenge: the musical saw is harder to play well than say, a piano, because it's just a chunk of metal, so the satisfaction I derive from figuring out how to make it sing (there are no music conservatories you can go to to be taught how to play it - it's a process of self discovery through trial and error) is greater than just taking lessons.

Of the videos I have seen, you seem to perform the work of other composers. Do you write your own compositions for the saw or is that something you would like to develop in the future?

I enjoy taking a written piece of music, practicing it until it is "made my own". I like to interpret music rather than creating a piece of music from scratch. It's sort of like fitting myself into an existing world. I work with many composers, such as Scott Munson ( who composed for 'Another Earth', who write for the saw or even write specifically for me - I love these collaborations. So, no - I don't feel an urge to compose myself.

Playing a saw must be more dangerous than playing a piccolo, for example. Have you ever had any saw related injuries?

I have never cut myself (nor anyone else) but holding a saw in one's hands does command a certain respect, which is helpful when busking - all the bullies leave me alone :)
I did break two saws, though. The saw's sound comes out of the vibration of the metal, and when the temperatures are around freezing, the metal does not want to vibrate. I was busking in winter, and forcing the saw to vibrate. That's when I learned that I can break steel...

The most memorable moment for me in Another Earth was the saw playing sequence. How did you come to be involved in that project?

The director, Mike Cahill, saw me playing in the subway (see below) and that gave him the idea to incorporate a saw into his film. He asked me if I would help choose the music for the saw's scene, and record it. He also asked if I would then coach William Mapother, the actor who had to appear to be playing a saw, to act as if playing in a convincing way. It was a lot of fun for me to work with William, because it was different from what I usually do, which is teach people how to actually play. Here, the visual was important, not the sound (he never actually made a sound).

You have also worked on other film soundtracks: El Carnaval Sodoma, Dummy and I Sell the Dead. Have you any plans to work on other films? If not, is there a particular director who you would like to work with?

Right now I am working on a couple of music videos - one with director Sohail Javed who is one of the best video directors in Pakistan, and the other with director Maderling Suquet for the UK 'Danger Global Warming' project.
I would love to work with M. Night Shyamalan. He never uses stock sound effects, he insists that all audio be originally created and he always works with James Newton Howard for the musical score.

Finally, which obscure film would you recommend?

Peau d'Ane (English: Donkey Skin) - I'm not sure whether it is considered obscure by a film connoisseur such as yourself, but I loved it when I was a kid... The music is by Michel Legrand (who was in the same music class with my mother at the Paris Conservatoire).

For more information on the Saw Lady go to or visit her facebook page:

All that remains to be said, is a big thank you to the Saw Lady for taking part in this interview. I hope I haven't jinxed her into having lots of saw related accidents, after a graze-free career, now that I asked that question. Also, expect a review of Peau d'Ane at some point in the future...



  1. Brilliant interview and just what we needed as big fans of the Saw Lady. Although I wasn't keen on Another Earth it's really turned me onto saw playing. Can we buy Saw Lady music anywhere? And if she could do a version of 'In the Aeroplane over the Sea' I'd be in heaven. Good work Evil and respect to the Saw Lady.

  2. Thank you for the fun interview, Evil, especially for the questions nobody has ever asked me before!
    Congratulations on a successful 1st year - here's looking for many more!

    @doccortex above - thank you for your kind words! My 2 albums can be downloaded from iTunes:
    Amazon -
    and CDbaby -
    My EP is available for download from only.
    Would love to do a version of 'In the Aeroplane over the Sea' if there'd be somebody who'd do the other instruments with me. thank you for the idea!

  3. I'll track them down and hopefully do a review in the next couple of months on Into the Valley of the Obscure.

  4. @doccortex - Thank you very much for your kind intentions! Please let me know if you do - I will promote it on my Facebook/Twitter.