On Record is a monthly feature where FACT gets an artist we like to talk in-depth on a record, or song, that means a lot to them.
This month, Dutch dance producer 2562, a vital part of dubstep’s European rise in 2008 and 2009, and creator of one of this year’s most interesting albums in Fever (a record 100% sourced from samples of late ’70s disco records), explains his minor obsession with ‘I’m Still Here’, the crowning moment of the Joaquin Phoenix-starring film / art project of the same name.
“Usually with music my opinion is… fuck context.”
I haven’t actually seen the film – obviously I know the story that surrounds it, but I’m yet to watch it.
“You should. Even if you know that it’s not real, I’d really recommended it. Obviously, or else I wouldn’t have picked it.
“I had to choose a song, or record for this feature, but obviously this is about the movie as well… I think it got quite a lot of harsh criticism, which surprised me when I watched it. For me it’s brilliant; it’s very brave and original movie-making, with Joaquin Phoenix pretending to quit his acting career in real life; putting his whole career and his life at stake for the sake of film. So even if the movie had been bad, it would’ve been at least a very noble failure – it takes balls to do that. But it’s not a bad movie either, it’s quite beautiful to watch someone struggling to escape that mould that he’d got himself into, and trying to succeed in a different field, when as a viewer you can pretty much sense from the start that it’s not going to happen for him – so you go through these struggles with him.
“It’s also filmed and acted out very naturally, so if you were to watch the movie without knowing his fate – without knowing that it wasn’t real – then it would be quite believable. At least until… well, there’s a scene where he’s supposedly recording a couple of tracks he wrote in Puff Daddy’s studio, and it’s just too hilarious to be real [laughs]. I think that’s the point where you should know that it’s just a movie.”
Was Puff in on the joke?
“Oh, I bet Puff was in on it. The way he goes about that scene is part of why it’s so hilarious. He’s quite a good actor – the looks in his eyes when he hears the songs.
“But the song I picked, ‘I’m Still Here’, objectively it’s quite bad. I mean it’s meant to be quite bad. But it’s strange: from the movie-makers, I’m quite sure it’s meant to be a bad song – the lyrics, the way he delivers it, the backing track – but it still has this certain quality to it that strikes a chord within me, in quite a sincere way. I can’t quite figure out how it works – the song’s triumphant in a way, but it’s also the tragic pinnacle of the movie. There’s something about the piano progression as well; that has a certain quality to it.
“It’s his big show, his moment that he’s been waiting so long for it, but it’s the start of his downfall: it’s the point where he ruins his big chance. But then that’s where the context of the movie comes in, which you wouldn’t get from hearing the song alone.”
The title’s quite symbolic too though, right? He’d completely sacrificed his public persona for the sake of a film – well, really for a larger art project – but he ultimately survives it.
“Oh yeah, there’s a double meaning there as well – at the same moment he’s shouting to the real world, as the real Joaquin Phoenix, that hey, I’m still here. Even though for the last two years, he’d disappeared into his acting.
“But what’s interesting for me about the context of the song in the movie, is that usually with music my opinion is… fuck context. Music doesn’t really need context – whether that’s a genre, or a music scene, or personal life of the author – to be relevant. For me, if it needs that, it’s not good music – I just want to be able to appreciate a track or a song for what it is, and provide the context for myself if you will. But in film, context is everything, so it forces me to view music in the opposite manner to how I usually would.”
Have you ever had any experience in soundtracking?
“Yeah, there was one that springs to mind. I was asked to do an edit of my remix of TRG and Dub-U from a couple of years back, a director wanted to use it in a movie from Birmingham called One Day. My job was to edit a part of my remix so that what happened in that scene in the movie timed with what happened in the music. Pretty much all the music in the rest of the movie was grime, and the scene that my remix was in was the moment with the tension just before the drama; before the final scene. I haven’t seen the whole movie, I’ve only seen my scene, but what’s pretty sad about it is that the movie was banned in cinemas across Birmingham – it’s own city – because people were afraid it would incite violence. And of course, when you don’t have support from your home city it becomes really hard to promote the movie across other parts of Europe.”
2562 will be DJing at Beat Redemption at Found @ Hidden this Friday, October 7, with Ben Westbeech, Midland and more. For more information and tickets, visit Found’s homepage. 2562’s ‘Wasteland’ is out now on When In Doubt.