Four Non Blondes’ 1993 smash “What’s Up?” isn’t exactly the kind of song that leaps to mind when you think “horror movie trailer.” But in the new teaser for the first slate of thrillers in Blumhouse Production’s Welcome to Blumhouse series, the familiar strains of Linda Perry’s iconic chorus simmer beneath an array of unsettling, gruesome and chilling scenes.
The version of “What’s Up?” featured in the trailer isn’t the original, but a haunting new one by Toronto-based singer-songwriter Fjøra. Blumhouse and Amazon had reached out to Perry to use “What’s Up?” in the clip to promote the first four Welcome to Blumhouse films (there will be eight in total), and it was Perry who immediately suggested Fjøra tackle the project.
The pair had met the year before at Canadian Music Week, where Perry did a series of one-on-one sessions with aspiring artists. Fjøra — real name Alexandra Petkovski — was the last artist Perry met, and she was so struck by Petkovski’s confidence and talent that they stayed in touch and started searching for projects together. The Welcome to Blumhouse trailer provided a perfect opportunity.
As Perry notes to Rolling Stone, such drastic reimaginings of well-known songs for trailers aren’t uncommon, particularly in the horror genre: “It’s these very classic melodies turned into suspenseful thrillers, and that’s why Fjøra was the prime suspect to do it,” she says. “You don’t know her, and you will start investigating her, but she’s not trying to sound like a trailer. It’s just her sound — very cinematic and theatrical.”
Fjøra is a classically trained pianist, and that background has seeped into the music she makes now — vast, cinematic compositions with electronic elements and some pop leanings (to describe it, she uses the portmanteau genre term “cinematronic”). For her take on “What’s Up?” Fjøra says she wanted to “play up the lullaby-esque nature” of the song’s classic hook and keep much of its melodic core, without being beholden to it and still leaving room to pepper in contemporary sound design techniques.
Citing the work of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross as an inspiration, Fjøra says: “Sound design is powerful because it actually plays with silence in conjunction with music, and I think that contrast creates that tension that we feel. It was important to me to use as close to the same melodies as possible, but then underneath, the harmonic complexities are shifting.”
With all these elements, Fjøra created a version of “What’s Up?” that feels wholly unlike the original, although Perry is effusive with her praise: “Honestly, it’s more the style of music that I’m about,” she says. “I love cinematic, I love creepy unexpected little tones. She managed to capture me and the song — I still know it’s the song, of course — but I’m not missing my version at all, because I’m very intrigued on where she’s going.”
The first four films in the Welcome to Blumhouse series are set to premiere in October. The first two, Black Box and The Lie, directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. and Veena Sud, respectively, arrive October 6th; while Evil Eye, directed by Elan Dassani and Rajeev Dassani, and Nocturne, directed by Zu Quirke, will premiere on October 13th.