Daft Punk have spoken out for the first time in depth about their work on the soundtrack for Tron: Legacy.
Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo’s score is one of the most hyped recording projects of 2010, and will finally see an official release on December 6, 11 days prior to the movie hitting cinemas. The duo are cover stars of the new December 2010 issue of Dazed & Confused, wherein they talk extensively to Rod Stanley about their past, present and future undertakings.
“This project is by far the most challenging and complex thing we have ever been involved with,” declares Thomas of their Tron: Legacy soundtrack. “Coming from our background of making electronic music in a small bedroom, and ending up having our music performed by a 90-piece orchestra, with some of the best musicians in the world…We are lucky to have had the opportunity to experience some powerful moments artistically over the years, but recording this orchestra was a very intense experience.”
“This project is by far the most challenging and complex thing we have ever been involved with.”
Much of the interview is concerned with Daft Punk’s foregrounding of orchestral, rather than electronic, elements in the score. Guy-Manuel suggests that there is a baroque quality to much of Daft Punk’s music, and he hopes that the arrangements on Tron: Legacy will encourage their fans to explore classical music.
“The soul and emotion of [classical music] is so powerful that to like it is so easy – it’s just people think you need to be educated. I thought that myself for a long time, until I had listened to so many kinds of music, that one day I just tried it. But it’s not about learning…It’s about learning that it’s just there.”
Thomas stresses the timelessness of orchestral instruments relative to electronic tools. “A cello was there 400 years ago and will still be here in 400 years. But synthesizers that were invented 20 years ago will probably be gone in the next 20. Synths are a very low level of artificial intelligence. Whereas you have a Stradivarius that will live for a thousand years. In the past, we have worked with clashing genres like disco and heavy metal, and here we would do it with film scores…this idea of the ultimate retro-futurism.”
“We knew from the start that there was no way we were going to do this film score with two synthesizers and a drum machine,” he adds, having cited Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann, John Carpenter, Vangelis and Maurice Jarre as inspirations.
“There’s more latitude to experiment with an orchestra than an 808 drum machine and synth.”
So is it right to assume that they find dance music less appealing than they once did?
“For us, yes,” says Thomas. “We are definitely excited by music, but just trying to constantly experiment. And sometimes that means going with other art forms, because you think there’s more latitude to experiment with an orchestra than an 808 drum machine and synth.”
Has Tron: Legacy usurped the original Tron movie in the duo’s imagination? Not according to Guy-Manuel. “Tron left a strong imprint as a kid. I was eight, he was seven. Maybe I only saw it two or three times in my entire life, but the feel of it is strong even now, that I think the imprint of the first one will not be erased by the new one. It has a real visionary quality to it.”
“Tron has a real visionary quality to it.”
“As soon as we saw the filmmaker was not trying to copy the first [Tron movie],” says Thomas, “But expand it after almost 30 years, we thought it was interesting. Then we questioned ourselves as to whether or not it was something we could actually do.”
“The most pressure we feel is always from ourselves, even in a project like this. I think that is why we took so much time before we jumped on board, so we could guarantee our freedom and room for experimentation in this environment – it’s a dream factory. Hollywood is at the corner of imagination and industry.”
Read the full interview – and check the accompanying 3D photo-shoot – in the new issue of Dazed & Confused, out now.