See the album, hear the movie. This oxymoron is the concept behind Dirty South's newest mixed-media project With You. The album, released on Tuesday, is the soundtrack and inspiration for the short film of the same name written, directed, and produced by the dance music producer.
MTV News recently caught up with the DJ and he opened up about how the film came together.
The flick itself is an interplanetary love story that begins with an invitation to "Run Run Run." Then the plot picks up the album's themes of struggle and uncertainty, but the power of With You lies in the music's emotional transitions with tracks like "Freefallin'," "The Unknown" and "Tunnel Vision."
"Once I did the first 10 tracks, I sat back, I listened to them, put them in the order that I thought was the right order for tracks, and when I heard them back I felt like there was a story within the music," Dirty South explained. "And the funny thing was, I was falling in love with filmmaking anyway in the last year or two. So I think in the back of my mind I was, without realizing, I was always making music for film."
The tracks form the foundation of the film, and just as the characters evolve, the songs also swell into rich ballads. As for the aesthetic, South told us that some of his favorite films and scores, including a 2010 sci-fi thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, had a big impact.
"I love watching movies, all kinds of movies, like 'Inception.' I think that was one of the movies -- it was like a little inspiration coming from that movie," he revealed, before citing the influential composer behind flicks like "Gladiator" and "Interstellar."
"You know, for me, Hans Zimmer is a great inspiration. He does awesome soundtracks, he really takes the energy of a movie to the next level."
Beyond Hollywood, the producer-turned-filmmaker told us influences like Pink Floyd and Michael Jackson also helped shape the connection he made between film and music.
Dirty South's directorial debut was an ambitious undertaking, and it already seems to be paying off: With You has nabbed the #1 spot on 17 international iTunes charts since its release. And while success will likely boost not only his profile but his confidence, Dirty South admitted that taking on the project was quite daunting initially.
"I think the whole concept was quite overwhelming because it was my first thing ever, you know, as far as filmmaking goes," he explained. "So the only way to overcome that is to do 16-, 18-hour days to make sure it gets done, especially when you're doing it indie-style like the way we did it.
"When I finished doing this whole project I realized that I could write music in a different way, and that is by being inspired by the script itself," he continued. "I found a new way to write music. ... I feel like now I can write a song for a scene."
Fans will get to step into the world of With You when Dirty South hits the road for live shows, which will incorporate the film. And this new mixed-media approach seems to be a permanent move for Dirty South who said, "I'm already working on the next album, which is also going to be a movie as well, and this time I want to do a feature film."