‘Tron: Legacy’ Soundtrack — Most Depressing Daft Punk Album Yet
It would be a fantastic understatement to say that we’ve been looking forward to hearing Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy soundtrack since the project was announced last year. So there was no way we were skipping a listening party and Q&A with Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski (moderated by the film’s music supervisor and KCRW Music Director Jason Bentley), co-presented by KCRW and Disney at Apogee Studio in Santa Monica. The French electro duo was not in attendance, though they could have been there without their helmets on, for all we know. Jump below for highlights from the hour-long discussion and music clips from the most highly anticipated soundtrack of 2010. (Sorry, Burlesque.)
Director Joseph Kosinski wanted Daft Punk (Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo) for the movie’s soundtrack not only because he’s a giant fan of electronic music, but because of the work Bangalter and de Homem-Christo have done outside of Daft Punk. (Bangalter did the score to the 2002 French movie Irreversible, and the duo made the film Electroma together.) He knew they were “more than just dance music guys… There’s a lot going on behind those masks.”
Kosinski explained that Disney expressed interest to the band, and when word got back that DP was also interested in the gig, he had a “pancake meeting” with the group at Café 101 in Hollywood to make it happen. They all had the same goal in mind: to create a “classic film score that blended electronic music and classical in a way that had never been done before.”
DP recorded the album across the pond at AIR Lyndhurst Studios in England, but the final mix was at Skywalker Ranch (which Kosinski calls “the most gorgeous slave labor camp”) in Northern California. Thanks to Daft Punk’s music, the folks at Skywalker called Tron: Legacy “the loudest film they’ve ever mixed.”
Creating the soundtrack was a back and forth process that took over two years — Bangalter and de Homem-Christo would send over demos from their England studio to Kosinski in California. One particularly funny anecdote the director shared was the horror he had upon recieving an email from the band saying that they lost all the tracks on their hard drive, and they needed all the demos they had sent to him thus far to be shipped to some random address in France. Kosinksi called DP in a flush, and Bangalter said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Basically, Daft Punk fans are so desperate to hear new Daft Punk music, they’ll do whatever they can do get their hands on it.
We know you Punkheads are more interested in the music than anything else — so here it is. Kosinski previewed this track, “Adagio For Tron”, which takes place during a flashback sequence in the film. He calls the sweet and sorrowful tune “out of the box” for Daft Punk:
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This next track, “Recognizer”, was also previewed at the listening party. Kosinski says this track shows up in the film when “3-D really kicks in”. It’s another threatening-sounding tune, and has some Inception-esque brass horn wails:
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Pretty much all of the soundtrack is as dramatic and somber as these two tracks. (“Derezzed” seems to be the only truly upbeat, cheerful tune on the whole CD.) This isn’t Discovery Part II, or similar to any Daft Punk album you’ve ever heard, but it’s a gorgeous mix of classical and electronic. You won’t be dancing to this melancholy soundtrack – you may drive furiously in the rain while weeping, though. But still, it’s an evocative and cathartic listen.
As reported, the band does make a cameo in the movie, though the director had to persuade them to do it. “We have a nightclub scene, which is our [Star Wars] Cantina scene. It made sense that the house DJs would be Daft Punk.”
“They’re guys dressed as robots,” he says. “It’s not a huge leap.”
Unfortunately, don’t expect any live shows from the duo to promote the soundtrack — Kosinski says it’s unlikely. “They want this music married to the picture,” he says. “That’s the mystique of Daft Punk. But it works for them.”
Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy soundtrack drops December 7. The film is released in theaters December 17. Watch the entire Q&A over at KCRW.