With two and a half weeks until the premiere of Disney’s Tron: Legacy and a week until the release of Daft Punk’s much-anticipated soundtrack, Los Angeles’ KCRW-FM this morning previewed five never-before-heard tracks from the score.
The sneak peek is part of a lengthy conversation between director Joseph Kosinski and KCRW music director Jason Bentley, who served as the music supervisor for Tron: Legacy. It’s an interesting discussion that provides a rare glimpse into the soundtrack process. Some highlights:
• Kosinski finished editing the movie on Nov. 17, exactly a month before it opens in theaters. “I literally finished the movie Wednesday morning and we put it on a hard drive and it was instantly duplicated and disseminated around the world almost instantly,” he says. “So, it was surreal to finish it Wednesday, watch it once through, complete. I got to watch the movie once, finished, and then it was shipped out and watched now with an audience both the last two nights, so it’s been pretty cool.”
• The director courted Daft Punk for about a year before the duo finally agreed to tackle the soundtrack. “They wanted to make sure that this was something they could commit themselves to, creatively and completely, for a couple of years, so I totally understand that,” Kosinski says. ” So, during that process, the thing that kept me going through it is that I knew, creatively, we all wanted the same thing. I knew we wanted to create a classic film score that blended electronic and orchestral music in a way that hadn’t been done before. I knew creatively we were in the right spot, it just took some time to get everything lined up as it had to be and then once we were off to the races, it was pretty incredible.”
• Early in the process Bentley arranged for Daft Punk to meet composers like Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson Williams, in part to determine whether they would want to work with an established film talent for the soundtrack. In the end the duo decided to go it alone. “And, of course, the studio, who would love to have a guarantee, an insurance policy of having Hans Zimmer right there, was a little unnerved by that,” Bentley reveals. “But we believed in them.”
• Daft Punk insisted on working at AIR Studios’ Lyndhurst Hall in London. “They were convinced the brass there, and I also think the acoustics of that particular room make a difference and I think they were right,” Kosinski says. “That was one of those tracks that really came alive — it was a great track when it was a demo and all digital but, that was one when I heard the recordings from their live session that took a whole new life on. I’m glad we did it.”
• Anticipation for Daft Punk’s score reached such a feverish pitch that a series of fake tracks circulated online. (“I’ve suggested to the label that they put out a companion compilation of all the fake tracks,” Bentley says. “… There was some good stuff.”) At one point Kosinski says he he received a message from Daft Punk saying, “‘Joseph, our hard drives have crashed. We’ve lost all the demos we’ve sent you. We need you to burn all of it onto a DVD and send it to this address in France.’ And I quickly realized that … I called Thomas and he was like,’ I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Someone had worked up this ruse to get me to send the soundtrack to them. ”
• The final sound mix was completed at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch over a six-week period. “It’s the most gorgeous slave labor camp in the world,” Kosinski says.
• On Daft Punk’s movie cameo: “I think I had to persuade them to do that. I didn’t want to force them in but, you know … the guys dress as robots so it’s not a huge leap to translate them into the world of Tron. We did Tron-ify them. We gave them some new helmets and suits that were in the vibe of the scene and the world that we were shooting. But you know it just made sense. We had a nightclub scene, which was kind of our ‘Cantina scene.’ It just made sense that the house DJs had to be Daft Punk. It was spectacular. ”
You can listen to the interview, watch the video and read the transcript all at the KCRW website. Tron: Legacy opens on Dec. 17. Daft Punk’s soundtrack will be released on Dec. 7.