How Kanye West Inspired ‘Divergent”s Dystopian Soundtrack

Music supervisor Randall Poster talks Yeezus.

Kanye West can add one more jewel to his sparkling crown of accomplishments: the rapper’s Yeezus inspired the soundtrack for the upcoming film Divergent.

“One of the great creative breakthroughs we had was that we, talking to Neil Burger the director, really looked at Kanye’s Yeezus record and ‘Black Skinhead’ in particular and said, ‘You know what, musically this sounds like the world of Dauntless,’” music supervisor Randall Poster told MTV News, referring to the most brazen of factions in the “Divergent” universe.

“Obviously, the lyrical topicality was not going to work for us and so doing some exploration we sort of landed on this producer Gesaffelstein who worked with Kanye,” he said.

The French producer/DJ’s contribution, a collaboration with A$AP Rocky titled “In Distress,” hit the Web a few days ago. It’s a pounding, almost spooky track that I could easily see scoring more than a few of the characters’ fear landscapes. And perhaps it will.

According to Poster, the soundtrack of the film is intrinsically woven throughout, a choice that stands in sharp contrast to soundtracks for the likes of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which were released almost as companions to the films itself.

“I think that was one of the reasons why I was invited to work on ‘Divergent,’” Poster said, referring to his predilection for making music a prominent force in film.

The music supervisor is well-known for having an eclectic musical palette, choosing striking tunes, in particular, for Wes Anderson’s films.

“It was our intent at the outset to really try to create a cohesive soundtrack where the film music and the songs kind of all wove together and made sense as a whole,” he said.

In fitting with the jagged, dystopian landscape of future Chicago, the artists Poster chose are of the EDM and rap persuasion. There’s Ellie Goulding, who Poster said is Tris’ inner voice, M83, Zedd, Skrillex — the list goes on.

Perhaps most intriguing, Tame Impala and Kendrick Lamar came together on one track, a choice that Poster said represents the collision of worlds that’s intrinsic to “Divergent”: the real world decaying into the future.

“I think that one of the challenges for a movie like this is that it’s set in the future and so you sort of have to figure out, ‘OK, what might music in the future sound like?’” Poster said. “The film is actually set not in a perfected future, but actually kind of in a future world that is deteriorating. And so we wanted to create a musical element that had reflected on current music sounds, but also felt kind of time-forward and had a certain futuristic element.”

“Really our notion was to find music that was dangerous, tribal and had electronic elements without really being dance-y,” he added.

Since most of this film takes place in the Dauntless compound, the darkness of the soundtrack is fitting.

It remains to be seen what will happen musically when Tris and Co. wander beyond the bounds of their chosen faction in “Insurgent.” Poster isn’t sure yet whether he will be working on the second film in the series, but if he does, he would like to continue to use the artists featured on the first soundtrack — Clams Casino and Ellie Goulding in particular.

“I was thinking it would be interesting if you could somehow maintain Ellie as the voice of Tris,” he said. “We’ll stick with Ellie for the moment.”

Senior writer/editor at MTV News. Former Mashable associate editor & CNN columnist. "Stuff Hipsters Hate" co-writer. Moshpit fan.
@BrennaEhrlich