Not many underground bands have such a buzzing hype around them as UK newcomers Proxies do, and what’s more, it’s well deserved. Proxies are one of those bands who have turned their passion into something tangible through hard work and dedication, actually getting off their arses and doing something rather than waiting for the industry to fall into the palms of their hands.
Producing records in their bedrooms, recording vocals under bunk beds, relentlessly networking and gaining the right contacts has put the band in a promising position at the start of their career. We catch up with keyboard player/programmer/vocalist/general-busy-body Jordan Fish to find out more…
Hey Jordan! First off can you explain how the formation of Proxies come about?
Kind of by accident in that we never planned to be a band. I had begun exploring electronic music with a couple of friends, who way more talented than I, mostly for fun but also to see them in action and learn from them. I knew Joe from college and it turned out he was doing something sonically similar around the time and suggested working on a song together. So we did. Then we worked on some more. Alex lives down the road from my parents and I asked him if he could play the songs so we could try and reproduce them in a live environment, we tried them a couple of times in Joe’s university house and had fun with it. We didn’t ever expect to play live, so when a couple of our friends that liked our music asked us to support them at a few shows, we were a little on the spot. I asked my friend Josh to play bass live for us, he played in a band I’d actually stumbled across via YouTube a while back. He added some vocals in rehearsal and as officially joined a couple of months later. A little while after that I think we realised we were a band.
Proxies mix many different styles and genres together, what artists have influenced Proxies?
So many. Each of us have such a wide variety of influences that when you include all of our influences together it begins to sound ridiculous. I think we’d all agree on artists like Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, Muse and Daft Punk being amongst the most influential. I know Joe listens to a lot of pop punk, particularly that New Jersey pop punk kind of sound and we share a lot of favourite bands. I listen to a lot of electronic music lately, but mostly am a rock music fan at core which might explain our sound a little. As a rule I could say everything Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen work on is golden, the first Panic! At The Disco record is a masterpiece and Katy Perry‘s singles are only ever the best pop songs… I don’t know if that’s relevant.
Considering Proxies are a relatively new band you have toured with some high profile artists and worked with big names such as Sean Smith & Gareth McGrillen. What has led to your involvement with these credible acts so soon in your career?
We had to pay them one million pounds in hookers and drugs and cash and sexual favours. We got the cash by selling our insides to The Church Of Scientology. Not really. Our band has been really fortunate that super talented people have taken us under their wing and helped us out. Gareth has been a friend for a while and liked what we were doing. Gareth introduced me to Sean a while before our band started and the feature came naturally – we all knew each other and Gareth and I were kind of on the same brainwave with the song and both had Sean in mind to do the additional vocal on it and kind of mentioned it to each other at the same time. Gareth is the nicest dude on the planet and we wouldn’t be where we are now without his help.
You have created an impressive online following and are well known for networking with fans via social media. But the internet often comes under fire with regards to illegal downloading. Do you think the internet is the future or the demise of the music industry?
The music industry is changing a lot, so in that respect the internet probably does bring about the demise of the old model. That said, our band would not exist at all without the internet. That’s really simple. It has been how people discover our music, how we’ve distributed music, how we keep people that care about our band informed on what we are doing. Beyond word-of-mouth and the little touring we have done, it has been the only form of communication we have had. Online merch orders have come in from Chile to Argentina to all corners of the US and Australia. Those people will only know about our band because of the internet. YouTube makes an almost level-playing-field for the discovery of music and great undiscovered content goes viral every day thanks to sites like Reddit. So it is the demise of an old model but it is also the future of the industry. The faster bands (and labels) can adapt to the internet generation instead of trying to control and dictate it, the quicker that will be realised I think.
‘Lost Tapes Volume 1’ epitomizes a DIY attitude to music by self producing the EP and hand-making the physical copies. What are your thoughts on the EP now that it’s complete and out there for people to hear?
I’m really glad we did it. The response has been overwhelming. To hear people singing along at shows to songs we wrote and recorded in our bedrooms is really strange and makes us even more proud of it.
It seems Proxies never stop working! Do you have plans to release new material anytime soon?
Yes! We started working straight away on a sequel to the free EP, which we are recording in our bedrooms and producing ourselves once again. It will be released in the next few weeks. We have also been working for a while with back with Gareth and another producer Andy Gray on an official release. So that’s on the way too.
Selling out physical copies of your EP in seconds and being announced for Reading & Leeds are impressive achievements, how does it make you feel?
I am convinced it is a big elaborate prank that one of my friends has planned and everybody is in on the joke. It definitely has just crept up on us and been a huge surprise. We’re all a little bit shocked but determined to try and make the best of it.
So finally, after an impressive start, where do you see Proxies in 5 years time?
Haha, wow. Hopefully we will have put an album out properly. I’d like to be able to perform a headline tour too. But I don’t even know what we’ll be doing in 5 months time, 5 years is such a huge scale. Maybe Joe will be working on a solo experimental acapella folk punk album and Alex will be trying his hand at movies. Maybe people will say they liked us better when we recorded EPs in our bedrooms and struggled to survive, before we sold out and recorded in one of those “mainstream recording studios”. Or maybe nobody will care. Regardless, I like to think we’ll still be making music.
Make sure you check out Proxies at their up coming UK dates and of course at this years Reading & Leeds festival.
Musician, rapper, comedian, film producer and pianist extraordinaire, Chilly Gonzales is a pretty solid candidate for one of the finest, most dedicated entertainers of our time. He was in London town to play at HMV’s Next Big Thing festival so we managed to take thirty minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to us on the phone about his latest album (one of our many favourite albums of 2010) and it’s film companion ‘Ivory Tower’, the rumoured beef between him and James Blake over the ‘Limit To Your Love‘ cover, why girls in normal clothes should be fixated upon and amongst other things what muppets would accompany him for a Broadway performance. You know, serious business.
Oh, and his upcoming orchestral rap album. Digest that notion for a second, then read on as he explains all…
You were in London recently to perform at HMV’s Next Big Thing Festival and we were wondering about why you were selected for this considering you have been making music for over a decade?
Well, I’m a slow learner, it’s taken me this long! I guess it’s the phrase ‘Next Big Thing’: it’s a wonderful phrase obviously and who wouldn’t want to be considered as someone who is going to traverse? But the secret is, I didn’t really want to leave my bubble, to be totally honest. I had kind of built my own little planet, my own sort of universe that I could loom over. I’m a little bit more demanding of people who follow my career in that the more you pay attention to it the more you’ll enjoy it. If you look at it from afar, it’s not that rewarding and when you break into the mainstream the first thing you have to do is to shave off the rough edges and become more universally appealing in the way that people can identify with… and I don’t want people identifying with me to be honest. I want people to respect me and to do that I don’t need people to identify with me. I don’t want to shave off the rough edges as in order to be respected you also have to make people scared of you and that’s probably the part I wouldn’t want to give up.
You frequently describe yourself as an entertainer rather than a musician, which makes more sense to us as a lot of your music’s purpose comes from the entertainment of others.
It’s because of how audience-orientated my work is. I understand people in a pretty traditional way as I have all these old-school skills of playing the piano and bringing my humour into shows. Like, Daft Punk are great entertainers, full on; in a pretty orthodox way let’s say. I don’t think everyone has to put on a bathrobe and slippers or whatever to be an entertainer, it’s just about putting the audience first.
You feel it when someone has thought of you, it’s kind of like being a spouse… you want to demonstrate that you’ve put in that effort; you keep manners alive and it’s how you manage to keep a relationship with fans alive as well. I just want to service my client and give them a reason to keep paying attention.
You’ve now extended your work into film with ‘Ivory Tower’. How far into the realm of entertainment will you go to bring new methods of entertaining your audience?
I kind of always had a Hollywood approach to music because people always want a little more than just what they hear, let’s put it that way. When watching movies you generally only react to what you see and all the people and everything involved is put up there on the screen and that’s not really the case with music. It’s a world in which you live and die by your wits like a military operation and there are huge amounts of money and people involved compared with making an album and I like that because it ups the stakes. Every morning I would have to wake up and be the producer of that movie and strategize, ensuring that all the money went to the right place as none of it was my own.
How strong is the connection between the album and the film? With your roots being in music how important was it for you to embed your music within the context of the film and vice versa?
Most of the album was done and recorded so we really wrote around the music actually for certain set-piece scenes. As we wrote the movie there became a need for two or three further pieces of music so there are a few things that you will hear in the film but not on the album and vice versa. ‘You Can Dance’ is not in the movie for example, there wasn’t really a spot. That gave us the opportunity to make a video for the song – a positively titillating video that shows a different side to the album and that was great, we also did a video for the rap version of ‘Never Stop’ which also wasn’t in the movie. The album and the movie… they’re more like companions to one another really.
The video for ‘You Can Dance’ is notable for the amount of ass it depicts. What is it about a hot piece of ass that makes it compliment your music so well?
We were thinking about dancing and what dancing really is I felt that the experience of being in a club and seeing attractive women dance has weirdly never really been captured in a way that seems real and simple. I was thinking about Sebastian Tellier’s videos and tried to go with a sort of erotic installation style video but he was using all these skinny, 14-year old looking American Apparel style models and I don’t like those kinds of bodies. I don’t know, the kind of girl I would normally fixate upon in a club would dress in a fairly normal way, they’d have their own personality and that for me is what’s great about being in a club. I don’t go to clubs often but when I do, that’s what I get from it. So I think it was more about getting the right kind of girls and getting them to dress themselves; there was no stylist for the video, we didn’t have a casting either it was just friends. Just a real concept of what you’ll find in a club circa 2011. It’s that simple.
I read a comment from the video’s director Jonathan Barré who said that the idea of the video spawned from a mutual fantasy he shares with you about being able to have sex with clothes on. Have either of you achieved this or is it purely fantasy at this point?
Hahahaha, well… you know… who doesn’t remember the days of dry-humping when you were a teenager? So we’ve all done it really. I think that the video has a sort of innocent appreciation for the female form in a teenage way. I hope that comes across. I think it does.
The album has been out for a while now so can you tell us a little about working with Boys Noize and how you feel about how the album was received by listeners?
I’m thrilled! I haven’t had this feeling from an album since ‘Solo Piano’ back in 2004 where I really felt like expectations and reality were right there in the same place. I owe a lot to Alex Boys Noize of course for just saying yes and making it all so easy. We both had the same impression that it was very easy to make. I think he’s a great producer, not just a great remixer and DJ and that’s not the case for a lot of his contemporaries. I sent him finished songs and said ‘OK I want you produce these. You can’t just sample a few piano chords and make a club banger because I’m trying to make an album that fits in with everything I’ve done, and then you can do some remixes sure…’ but he responded by saying ‘Hey! hey! No, I don’t even have to remix it’. He hasn’t remixed a single song off ‘Ivory Tower’, he just wasn’t interested. He saw himself as a producer and as a separate thing from his other work; he doesn’t DJ those tunes because they don’t go off in a club for the most part. We were really realistic about that aspect and he really did a great job as a producer.
He can produce a lot of good pop and vocal music; his remix of Feist’s ‘My Moon My Man’ was one of the first things I heard of his and I was like ‘Wow!’, he did a surprisingly good job as the song is pretty delicate really; you have Feist’s voice and you have to rise to the occasion in order to make the remix work. Then I heard ‘Power’ which had a lot of piano in it and that sort of led me to think ‘Hmm… what if I send him a few of my piano songs and see what happens?’ I started multi-tracking the piano and then it was very much a back-and-forth sort of thing and being inspired by one another and all that great stuff.
His presence compliments the album really well. Speaking of Feist and remixes… I understand that James Blake refused to remix your own ‘Never Stop’ while obviously the cover of a song you were involved with Feist in happened recently with ‘Limit To Your Love’…
It’s not like he actually owes me a remix! He actually did me a favour by covering a song I wrote and making it break out in its own way. I think that the truth of the matter is that I probably owe him a favour and not vice versa. I like the way the story happened because at the time of looking for remixers for ‘Never Stop’ I didn’t know who this Jimmy Blake fellow was so I was like ‘Oh some great new guy said no to the remix’ and then six months later I heard the cover and thought ‘Oh! This is an interesting guy’. I didn’t even know what dubstep was at this point but thought it was cool. Then another six months later I put two and two together and thought ‘oh that’s funny’ and went off on a phase but of course, I owe him a favour.
You’re known for doing fantastic covers yourself, my favourite being your piano re-work of Daft Punk’s ‘Rollin’ & Scratchin’ and I’ve always wanted to know what led you to pick that song in particular as it seems the most difficult to translate into a piano cover…
Well I didn’t cover it! I just added to it. It’s off the mixtape called ‘Pianist Envy’ and the idea behind it was very simple: I chose all my favourite hip-hop and electro songs that have almost no musical notes, harmony or melody in them. Essentially songs that were either just drums or songs with little melodic elements but basically no instruments. So I chose hip-hop beats like ‘Grindin’ by Clipse which was just drums, ‘Rolling & Scratchin’ which is just drums and then all I did was add instruments on top. So they’re not covers really I don’t know what you’d call them, remixes I guess. It’s just me playing over a drum track, but these are fucking amazing drum tracks programmed by some of the greatest producers of our time. The point is that I can do my job, and it’s similar to what I do when I produce; Tiga will put a drum beat and some melody together and I’ll just put the music in. That’s what I do whenever I work with DJs or electro producers because they want me to bring that sort of old-school flavour so I did just that with some of my favourite empty songs.
So it’s sort of like a sandwich and you just put in the filling?
Yeah! Exactly that.
Seeing as a lot of James Blake’s stuff is pretty minimal and stripped of lively music would you ever consider doing a similar thing with him?
If I ever had the chance to work with him I’d have to be in the studio with him, I would want to play piano and he’d probably want to sing. I think that would be something that would obviously be fantastic for me for sure. Consider my beef with James Blake as a cry for help! Hahaha. Like a desperate plea for attention from the man himself perhaps… y-y-you just have to give me a call or something you know… I’m a sensitive guy.
Let’s move back to the album for a bit. One of my favourite tracks is ‘I Am Europe’ which obviously has that magnificent monologue with all the metaphors that describe the sort of grandiose personification of Europe with some surreal observations and stuff…
By the way, nice one on the proper use of the word metaphor because a lot of people use the word metaphor when talking about similes; you know the type who say ‘I’m like this, I’m like that’ and they’re like ‘Oh! That’s an amazing metaphor’ and you always want to correct them and say ‘Errrr, actually a metaphor is when you say you ARE something’.
Ha, I admire how pedantic you are on this. What I wanted to know is how different the song would be if you were to specifically talk about the UK, particularly that monologue…
I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable writing that song unless I had lived in England for at least a decade or fifteen years like I had in Europe, specifically between Germany and France who are the main drivers of the EU, as we know. I wouldn’t feel confident writing a parody of the UK and saying stuff like ‘I am a Ribena tooth’ or whatever. I could do that but I hope that my song about Europe is a lot deeper than that, it’s not just about dogshit on the street or rude waiters – the reason why I wrote that is because I see a lot of those things in myself and it’s part of the reason why I’m still here. So it’s not critical except in the sense that I’m part of the family and can make it a full portrait, you know?
I noticed this year a growing trend in musicians extending their music to incorporate cinematic qualities, most obviously with the amount of producers making soundtracks like Daft Punk and Mr Oizo, who also makes his own films. Can you see this becoming more of, you know, a thing?
Funny you should say that actually, as my next album which should be out in the summer is an orchestral rap album with me rapping over a full straight-up orchestra, no beats. So it’s very cinematic and on top of that the arranger of the music is my brother, Christophe Beck. He wrote the music for The Hangover and all sorts of big-time Hollywood movies and stuff like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, he did a few seasons and he’s won Emmy Awards and all that crap. So there are moments where I’m rapping over some Phillip Glass like stuff, some Prokofiev type stuff, some soundtrack stuff; really a full orchestra pallete. We’re now in the process of getting some live gigs hooked up with the full orchestra and we’re really looking forward to that. So yes! Yes to a love of the cinematic which has always been a part of what I’ve been doing for a long time now; the term ‘cinematic’, be it positive or negative, I always compare my albums to soundtracks, especially the instrumental piano-based stuff. And orchestral yes, absolutely.
Let’s talk about your live performances briefly… you’re known for not doing a conventional set and your Piano Talk shows have been extremely popular. Other than the full-orchestral stuff you just mentioned have you anything else in store?
The last performance at The Scala was with the Double Penetration band which is a two-piano, two-drummer band pretty much faithfully doing the Ivory Tower album. With that tower-house sound you needed two pianos and two drummers to do all the parts and make it as hypnotic and dense as possible. So there are a lot of variations on the show depending on the city of course. I also have some usual suspect type guests; if I play in London there’s a good chance you’ll also see Thecocknbullkid or Jarvis Cocker and it’s great to come back to places where there are musical family members. So each show is just a little bit different from one another. It’s a pretty flexible thing.
Will you ever be having a live re-match with Andrew WK?
Yeah! In London actually! Obviously I’m kind of in the middle of ‘You Can Dance’ and he’s doing other stuff so it might have to wait until the fall or something but London really is the best place to do it as it’s in between Europe and America both conceptually and geographically and as far as our respective fanbases go we’re pretty evenly matched. London is definitely the place, it’s very exciting for us.
Do you plan on breaking any more world records anytime soon?
No. Well… with the last one, many people have played longer than me before and after I did that but without the Guinness seal of approval so I never claim to have played the longest show ever, I just tell people I have the Guinness record. Every so often I get a few emails with someone saying ‘Hey, I was in Cleveland and a guy just played a piano in a mall for 36 hours. The same song for 36 hours’ and I’ll respond by saying ‘That’s amazing! That sounds like a crazy performance. He doesn’t have the Guinness World Record.’ End of story. It’s like when people say to Barack Obama this and this and that and he’s like ‘but I’m the fucking president!’
Of course all this is just a waste of breath, I’m not even really thinking about it. I’ve already talked about it too much hahaha!
Haha, ok. Quick question about the internet, you expressed in another interview your love of it and this is refreshing to see when so many musicians or industry heads rant against it and claim that it’s killing music. What led you to your more amicable embrace of the new technology and using it to help your music?
Who thinks it’s bad?!
I don’t! I think it’s really helped musicians get their music out there and keep a good relationship with fans but with leaks being inevitable and a constant demand for content quite a few have expressed negative opinions on the matter…
I don’t know, with me, I had a good year. I made my money back on a feature film… the internet kind of lets me interact with my fans more, like I said earlier, people have to follow my work closely to get it and the internet can be used by someone like me in that case so that people can find all of my stuff and follow the story so of course it’s better for me now than it was ten years ago. I can have an on-going relationship with my audience when there’s not a constant stream of live shows or albums coming out. Nobody I know has a problem with the internet and I find it hard to believe that people do, unless you’re like, a huge pop star. Or maybe someone like Feist: she’s had more success than she could have ever wanted and so she’s trying to figure out what sort of relationship with her fans she should have when so many of them don’t really know her stuff that well. So far, she’s completely uninterested in Twitter and she doesn’t read anything about herself but then she’s on a totally different level where you can afford to be that way. So I can understand why someone like her would be against it.
What about leaks… recently James Blake’s album leaked way ahead of it’s scheduled release… not that he’s expressed any beef with the internet or anything but you can imagine it would be a bit of a blow…
I don’t know, you have to be smart about it… put new songs on the album that weren’t on the leaked version, make mixtapes, put out lots of free material… he seems to be handling it pretty well.
Moving away from that, out of curiosity… how many bathrobes do you own?
Three. I’m sort of thinking of making an extension as a lot of people are reacting to the tartan one…
Have you ever considered getting a sponsorship deal or maybe being involved with an advert for a bathrobe brand?
Absolutely. But then, companies have approached me in the past and when they get a little bit closer to my work and read some of the lyrics and see how I behave on French chat shows and stuff they backtrack and think ‘OK maybe we should just use your song but get someone else to be associated with the brand.’ I suppose they must think I’m a potential loose cannon.
I was on-stage in LA and I didn’t even think that there were five high-up guys from Apple in the audience and I was clearly taking the piss out of Apple, the iPad and the whole ad and everything… ostensibly playing ‘Never Stop’ on the iPad very badly. But then I spoke to them after and they loved it!
One final question… one of the first tunes of yours we got into at Crossfire was ‘Take Me Up To Broadway’. The Muppets obviously belong on Broadway so if you were invited to play on Broadway what three muppets would you take with you and why?
Obviously Gonzo. We could do lots of routines about ‘who the real Gonzo is’ and that sort of thing. I got the Gonzo nickname when I was thirteen because of how my nose was pronounced. It still is, but then even more so. They started calling me Gonzo because of the muppet, so Gonzo… and obviously Animal, it would be great to have him on drums. And erm…
[Chilly falls silent for a moment]
I’m just trying to take this question seriously, bear with me…
I’m thinking about Miss Piggy but are there any other prominent female muppets that you can think of?
Just Miss Piggy…
I guess I would have the band. So get the piano player in as well and we can have a mini-orchestra to play the orchestral rap album!
Daft Punk’s ‘Derezzed‘ has probably generated the most buzz around their OST for the visually mesmerizing Tron: Legacy. It certainly sounds like what we imagine most people were expecting from the idea of the french duo scoring a film; the orchestra take a back seat as a relentless drum beat and acidic riff take the motifs from Human After All and condense them into just under two minutes of exhilarating electronic peril.
It served as the diegetic soundtrack for one of the raddest scenes in the film, but the official music video that premiered on MTV (frustratingly for US viewers only) yesterday is some great visual fodder too.
Watch below as Thomas and Guy-Manuel load up ‘Derezzed‘ in Flynn’s Arcade and enter a joust sequence that’s a little closer to 1982 graphics than the superboosted sequel. Rad. BADADADADATSHHH BADADADADADADATSHHH.
The sequel to Tron was always destined to be met with a mixed reception. After all, it’s more-or-less impossible in today’s filmmaking arena to match what the original Tron had achieved in terms of its cultural impact, its technological progress and its narrative innovation: introducing Carrol’s fantastical down-a-rabbit-hole plot to an electronic man-made world that so perfectly explored the late 20th century human dilemma; selfishly thinking about what technology can do for us and not worrying about what it can do to us. Since then, the idea had been done to death as sci-fi met cyberpunk and went mainstream, not too long before The Matrix turned up and established itself as the coolest looking thing ever while at the same time turning Tron’s concept upside down and presenting the programmed world as what we know to be the real world. Tron: Legacy’s tagline is ‘The Game Has Changed‘, and that it undoubtedly has… and has done already many, many times over since 1982.
So the big question is, what have they actually made in this new environment? They’ve cockteased fanboys everywhere for five years with acts as simple as putting a 2 in the title (TR2N) and have made a decision as bold – but immensely apt – as to have Daft Punk score the soundtrack. The hype was ludicrous. We live in the most perpetually hyped up era of visual media that has ever existed, but Tron: Legacy took the biscuit, ate it and subsequently boasted that it was about to drop the raddest shit you’ve ever seen. Well…
It is, at the very least, the raddest shit you will see all year. And let us not forget that Inception came out this year. Yes, Tron: Legacy is aesthetically more stunning than a Christopher Nolan movie. Digest that for a second…
That is not to say it suffers from some issues, but these were all inevitable. It was always going to have staple Hollywood moments thrown in, some more clunky than others, but even the most gorgeously dystopian backdrop (and they are gorgeous… and very dystopian) is vandalised by Sam Flynn’s (played decently by Garret Hedlund) at times ridiculous voice; as though Kosinski had said to him every other scene “hey! before this bit of dialogue, why not smoke five packs of cigarettes, drink a litre of bourbon and pretend you’re Solid Snake pretending to be Solid Snake pretending to be Raiden”. But then, annoying as this is, it’s instantly forgivable because Jeff Bridges is Jeff Fucking Bridges and Olivia Wilde looks like the Mirror’s Edge girl in a massively desaturated world, which is awesome regardless of what you want from the film. Really awesome in fact. Really awesome.
At times the mise-en-scene looks like a refined pastiche of all successful sci-fi / fantasty films over the past two decades that has been topped with blue and orange neon lights like what a Japanese Jaffa Cake box might look like. The skyscrapers rise with the gloom of Ridley Scott’s Los Angeles in Bladerunner, the outlands look like a blend of the Matrix’s ‘real world’ and Oddworld’s Rupture Farms and the light-jet battle is basically Star Wars Episode 1’s podracing scene but less cripplingly awful. But it’s all so visually rewarding and satisfying, for both your average filmgoer and all the sci-fi neeks who should admire how tastefully the influences are moulded together to create a genuinely new both inspired and imaginative world which makes Avatar look like it was designed by five year old in MS Paint.
It is in the visual appeal where Tron: Legacy is both at its most successful and its most relentlessly awesome. Sure, it’s Kosinki’s strongest director trait, but the CGI is used to an effect that substitutes tacky for the fantastic, whilst utilising 3D technology not for a better box office performance but to totally redefine the often overused word ‘immersive’. If Avatar was a bar of chocolate then Tron is visual hit from a class A drug. It makes the little narrative niggles that podcasting neckbeards will inevitably argue over totally redundant, while reminding you just how phenomenal the Tron world is. Who cares about where the world cup is hosted when we can watch Sam Flynn enter THE GRID, hook up with the program that has a human complex, Quorra (adorably played by Olivia Wilde who should wear that wig for the rest of her life), beat the shit out of Rinzler, ride through an expertly choregraphed and thrilling light cycle sequence, and then battle countless programs in a pixelated nightclub with a neon frisbee while Daft Punk look at each other, nod, and then proceed to drop the biggest beat in the film diegetically while Jeff Bridges struts around talking like Jeff Bridges. It is mindblowing escapism at its absolute best.
So conceptually it’s a little weak, but I think most of us were expecting that. But as a feature film spectacle, it is a visceral gift to even the most imaginative dreamers and sci-fi lovers that somehow delivered more than my fanboy expecations craved for. Tron: Legacy will leave you breathless, it will leave you exhausted, it will leave you wanting more and most importantly, it will leave you completely and utterly derezzed.
Tron: Legacyis out in UK cinemas on the 17th December.
It must be the holiday spirit or something, but artists, bands and producers have been even more generous than usual and our inboxes have been overflowing with all sorts of tuneage in a variety of tempos and styles. Here are our ten picks from yet another two weeks of quality music.
The undisputed king of mash-ups and party mixtapes, Girl Talk released his latest collection of nostalgia meets college party meets weird meets brilliant beats online for free and if you haven’t already picked it up then you’ll find it all below. Daft Punk’s Tron OST is currently doing the rounds on the leaky pipes of the web to a mixed reception but if you didn’t catch their collaboration with N.E.R.D. then check out Nero’s remix if beats float your boat more than synths and strings. Shy FX get taken apart from one of the year’s biggest beatmakers Breakage as this weekend turns into a guaranteed party.
Pow 2011 is causing another forward riddim stir in London and Wiley’s meme-spawning ‘bududududada’ bars over the beat makes one of the most addictive dubplates of the year, get it! Crossfader subject Submerse keeps on going from strength to strength and his remix of Wolf Gang’s ‘Lion In Cages‘ sees blogs on a hype for his forthcoming releases. X-Ray Spex’s frontwoman Poly-Styrene makes a welcome return to our speakers with ‘Black Christmas‘. Crystal Castles made one of the most press-worthy collaborations of the year, dragging in Robert Smith for ‘Not In Love‘.
If you thought Jay-Z’s 99 Problems couldn’t be remixed any more then you were very wrong; Liam Howlet takes a simple but effective rework route for this banging Prodigy remix. New York three piece fun. live up to their name again with an acoustic version of their buzzing ‘Walking The Dog’. And last but not least, the hottest female to come out of Wales since… we can remember, Marina and the Diamonds gets a hypegenre workout courtesy of the ungoogleable but absolutely listenable oOoOO.
Since announcing that they were on-board to compose the soundtrack for the upcoming Tron sequel, Daft Punk have been mostly quiet about the project, drip-feeding fans with 20 second snippets of tracks and tiny molecules of information that the press continue to swarm over like vultures. Understandable, given that the 22-track album will be the influential duo’s first original full-length since 2005’s Human After All, for which the producers have called upon an entire orchestra to assist them. For the first time, Daft Punk have spoken at length about the project with Dazed and Confused magazine, and have finally answered all those questions many have been dying to ask.
They talk about the contrasts between the origins, producing music in bedrooms and how hearing it performed by a 90-piece orchestra was an “very intense experience”. Guy-Manuel (gold helmet) has put forward his optimism that this could encourage many of their fans to listen to more classical music and focus their attention on orchestral instruments rather than synths, which unlike the “timelessness” of a cello, Thomas Bangalter (silver helmet) argues “will probably be gone in the next 20 [years]”. Indeed, despite their dance music origins, the pair appear to have fallen in love with the more traditional music composition experience, as Thomas continues…
“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… there’s more latitude to experiment with an orchestra than an 808 drum machine and synth.”
The soundtrack will be released on December 6th, 11 days prior to the movie hitting cinemas. We are excited, Rick McCrank is excited, are you?
In an age in which filmmakers come equipped with an abundance of influences and progressively more obscure concepts, it’s all the more rare to come across something so obviously audacious that at the core, is tremendously, mind-crushingly simple. Indeed, the simplest stories take the longest to perfect, and this one in particular took almost twenty years. In Gaspar Noe’sEnter The Void, not only are we presented with a film that is his most fully realised piece of work yet, perhaps even his magnum opus, but we have a film that when stripped of all its technical innovation, idiosyncratic auteurship and typical french extremity, is really just a film about circles.
Specifically, the circle of life. But in the never-ending shot (excluding blinking and various other proverbial trips into the limbo-like void there are no cuts so prepare to feel very anxious watching this) that positions us deep inside Oscar’s head (less a conventional protaganist, more a temporary perspective for our own consciousness), the audience are continuously reminded of the circles that dictate our entire life. Whether it be the parallels between sucking on the end of a cigarette and sucking your mother’s tit after birth or the similarities between the record spinning round playing filtered disco beats in The Void and our own heartbeat, Noe reveals one by one, the meaningless struggles we make in life in an attempt to feel comfortable. And it’s all achieved in one DMT-induced visual trip through the internal vision of a dead drug dealer (played by the faceless Nathaniel Brown) trying to make sense of his past and look over sister (Paz De La Huerta) as she attempts to deal with her brother’s death by doing lots of sexy things in a vibrant and sleazy Tokyo club district.
So narrative wise it is a simple, yet wholly original story about the human struggle through a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope. There’s lots of sex, drugs and pounding, pounding techno music. Wonderful stuff so far, right? Yes yes yes, but its originality is owed in no small part to Gaspar’s meticulous need for sensory stimulation. Had this film been released before the technology existed to allow Noe’s camera to float across an entire city as Oscar’s ghost – presumably still tripping balls – is barging through concrete walls, then the narrative would have fell short of everything time has permitted the sensory-stimulating director to achieve. What that is, is the closest visual representation to what actually goes on inside our heads that has ever been given a worldwide cinema release.
It begins, after the amazing title sequence, with a never-ending psychedelic trip and once that has trapped you it will not let go of your senses for the remaining two hours. The sounds are immersive and haunting (thank you Thomas Bangalter, elected overlord of noise), the visuals are glowing and composed to the most precise detail, and in doing so, we finally have a piece of cinema that can accurately boast that the audience shares a connection with the lead character. You become him, his life flashing before his eyes is your life, that car crash is your own repressed memory, and it hits you just as hard. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
And even by internet generation standards, there are some seriously provoking and controversial things on show here, but isn’t that the sort of things that fills our own minds on an every day basis? You will not find another film as honest and revealing about humanity’s existential peculiarity than Enter The Void. If you’re offended then drop that cigarette, stop thinking about breasts and remember, it’s just a film about circles. Circles that we all ride on, and a superb insight into that special, fascinating one that never, ever ends.
The most recent work-friendly trailer can be seen above. But for a real taste of what to expect, watch the brand new Love Hotel trailer below. It’s one whole minute of awesome that should definitely not be watched at work or in front of parents, unless that’s your thing, I guess.