Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter rock sleek robot helmets in public, rarely submit to interviews and have left electronic-music fans wondering for more than two decades, "Just who are the dudes from Daft Punk?"
Now, thanks to their collaborative work on the "Tron Legacy" score, the curtain shielding the French duo from the public eye has been pulled back perhaps farther than ever before. Music supervisor Jason Bentley ("The Matrix" trilogy) worked with de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter for two years on the project, and in a wide-ranging interview, Bentley gave MTV News all sorts of insight into Daft Punk's creative process and what they're like to hang out with on a day-to-day basis. Here are five secrets revealed about Daft Punk and their "Tron" score.
Daft Punk Might Make a Film in the Future
It took a year for Bentley and director Joseph Kosinski to convince the group to take part in "Tron Legacy," Disney's follow-up to the 1982 original about a man sucked into a computer world and forced to engage in trippy gladiatorial games. The commitment would mean no touring and no other work for a full two years. So what finally convinced them to do it? Daft Punk might have their eyes on making their own movies.
"They were looking at this as much more than a composer gig," Bentley told us. "It was going to be an education in filmmaking. I wouldn't be surprised if they made movies from here. There were too many questions about lighting and cameras and lenses or effects. The Daft Punk guys are very, very interested in filmmaking."
Daft Punk Look Like Gorillaz Characters
What do Daft Punk look like beneath those helmets? According to Bentley, just picture two animated creatures.
"You know the animation style of Gorillaz? They totally look like characters out of Gorillaz videos. It's pretty funny. I'd turn around, and whether they were working or walking across a lot to meet me, I'd chuckle to myself because they're just the oddest couple."
Bentley went on to joke that they hardly need to wear the robot outfits "because they're such colorful characters." De Homem-Christo, he explained, "is the quiet one. You'll think he's not listening or there's a language issue, but it'll turn out he's been listening to everything." Bangalter, meanwhile, "is much more expressive and almost overcompensates for Guy-Man."
Daft Punk Are Huge Pop Culture Nerds
When Daft Punk set out to score "Tron Legacy," they had one goal in mind: to make an iconic film score.
"They're such huge fans of popular culture," said Bentley. "The score that they set out to make was one that could stand with 'Star Wars' or 'Superman.' They weren't shooting for a Daft Punk record. They wanted to create a full-bodied, timeless score."
The guys could often be spotted wearing "Back to the Future" T-shirts on the Disney lot. And Bentley recalled a time when they were all in a van together and Guns N' Roses' "November Rain" came on the radio. Daft Punk then launched into a highly detailed deconstruction of the song's 1992 music video starring Axl Rose and Stephanie Seymour. "It was so crazy how vivid it was in their minds," Bentley laughed.
The "Tron" Score Is Better Than The "Matrix" Scores
We'll let Bentley explain this one.
"What's amazing is how for the score, they fused the acoustic orchestral layer, the electronic layer — big kick drums or synth lines — and the granular, atmospheric level. I was the music supervisor for 'The Matrix' trilogy and we tried to merge those three layers and I think we did pretty good, but I don't think we nailed it. The problem was we were putting two different mind-sets in the room. It was our composer, Don Davis, who was fully on the orchestral side, and then we were introducing electronic people to him like Fluke or Rob D or Juno Reactor. We just didn't get a unified concept. With Daft Punk on 'Tron,' you feel that unified vision.
" 'Solar Sailor' is a really good example of that," he added of one track. "It's not an easy task to bring those two worlds together, orchestral and electronic. It can sound really clunky. But for 'Solar Sailor,' you can hear the strings coming in, and they fused that with the other layers. It's amazing."
Daft Punk's Cameo Started Out as a Joke
The group's presence is, of course, felt throughout the film, but Daft Punk actually show up for a cameo toward the end of the film. They play DJs in the computer world's after-hours hot spot called the End of the Line club. The cameo is a satisfying bit of insider hat-tipping on the part of the filmmakers ... and it started out as a joke.
"It was Joe Kosinski's idea," said Bentley. "At first it was just a jokey, amusing fantasy and it stuck. They liked the idea and just went with it."
Almost all of the material the DJs play in the club made it onto the "Tron" soundtrack, except for one track. "The second of three cues — that cue did not make the soundtrack," Bentley explained. "No one has noticed that. It's somewhat in limbo. I don't know if it will come out as a Daft Punk track or bonus material. It's damn good, and who knows where it will end up?"
Check out everything we've got on "Tron Legacy."
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