For years people have been telling the French duo Air that their
atmospheric pop music belongs in films.
But the pair hadn't found anything that inspired them until first-time
director Sofia Coppola came knocking, according to
multi-instrumentalist Nicolas Godin.
"Because our music is very cinematic, a lot of people have asked us
to take some songs from Moon Safari and put them in movies,"
Godin, 30, said of his and partner Jean Benoit Dunckel's critically
acclaimed 1998 electronic-pop album.
"We refused," he said, "because we really wanted to compose especially
for a movie" (RealAudio excerpt of interview).
The pair found what they were looking for in "The Virgin Suicides," a
dramatic tale of a series of teenage suicides within a Michigan
family. With a videocassette of the film playing before them, Godin,
Dunckel and touring Air percussionist Brian Reitzell
(exRedd Kross) collaborated for five weeks last winter to
compose the film's atmospheric score, using a number of vintage
keyboards and spooky effects.
Reitzell said the session took place in the French town of Versailles
during a snowstorm.
"We'd be playing, and the snow was falling outside, and I'm sure it
seeped in [to the score]," Reitzell, 33, said. "But the movie is very
similar in that respect of overall darkness that ambient,
The film chronicles the life of a middle-class '70s family led by a
math-teacher father and a rigidly religious mother who seeks to
protect her five attractive daughters from the opposite sex. Following
the suicide of the 13-year-old daughter, the family goes into
seclusion to cut the girls off from the outside world, unintentionally
making the remaining daughters targets of a neighbor's affections.
"The Virgin Suicides" stars Kirsten Dunst, Kathleen Turner and James
Woods and is based on the 1994 novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. The film
is slated for an April 7 release in the U.S.
The score is set for release Feb. 29; an accompanying soundtrack
album, supervised by Reitzell, will be released March 28. It will
feature '70s rock songs from Styx, 10cc and Heart.
Air performed one of two U.S. shows in support of "The Virgin
Suicides" at the recent Sundance Film Festival, where the film made
its U.S. debut. The movie is 30-year-old Coppola's first feature
directing/writing effort; she is the daughter of famed director
Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather").
Godin and Dunckel met Coppola through her younger brother, Roman
Coppola, who directed the video for their hit new-wave pop song "Sexy
Boy" (RealAudio excerpt), off Moon Safari.
Air eschewed the band's signature Moog-driven dance pop for the film.
For example, "Bathroom Girl" and "Dead Bodies" flirt with straight-up
rock arrangements, at times bordering on the majestic sound of '70s
The stately "Bathroom Girl" verges on Queen-style glam rock, while
"The Word 'Hurricane' " has an aggressive rock drum track that runs
counter to the group's typical disco-tinged rhythms. Godin attributed
the change to the influence of Reitzell, who stayed on with the duo
after the completion of the Moon Safari world tour.
Godin said the melancholy mood of tracks such as the spooky, keyboard-driven death march, "Cemetary Party," and the angelic "Afternoon Sister" which sounds like a pop song played on a church organ was in keeping with the film's subject matter. "It's a sad subject, but you laugh a lot watching the movie," Godin said. "But the story is sad."
In a break from the rest of the soundtrack's mix of swelling strings, acoustic guitars, drum machines and eerie keyboard sounds, the song "Playground Love" (RealAudio excerpt) features friend Gordon Tracks whispering his melancholy lyrics over a somber orchestral pop track.
Though every note the trio recorded is on the soundtrack album, according to Godin, only four songs made it into the film. The handful of musical themes that run through the score album including a ghostly female voice that weaves in an out of such tracks as the psychedelic "The Word 'Hurricane' " mostly were recorded on the group's latest obsession, a 1950s Chamberlin keyboard.
The full track listing for the soundtrack album is: Heart, "Magic Man"; Todd Rundgren, "Hello It's Me"; Sloan, "Everything You've Done Wrong"; Air, "Ce Matin La"; the Hollies, "The Air That I Breathe"; Al Green, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart"; Gilbert O'Sullivan, "Alone Again (Naturally)"; 10cc, "I'm Not in Love"; Todd Rundgren, "A Dream Goes On Forever"; Heart, "Crazy on You"; Air, "Playground Love (Main Theme)"; and Styx, "Come Sail Away."