RE:Generation connects with viewers on two levels. It’s hard not to focus on the music alone, criticizing the artist you feel ruined a great opportunity and championing the ones who did something great. On the other hand, their journey (whether you are behind it or not) illustrates how individuals see things differently; perception and the diversity that exists within. In exploring the way music can always bridge generation gaps, the film takes on a whole other form. Each producer handles their task at hand in completely different ways – give one man a map and he’ll read it one way, while another turns it upside down and reads it from another point of view. That’s innovation and understanding at its core. The RE:Generation Music Project is the brain child of a music-centric entertainment studio that found funding and support from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (The Grammys) and Hyundai, that explores the wonders of inspiration and the growing electronic music scene by asking 5 of top artists in the field to recreate the classic sounds that paved the way for the 2012’s contemporary audio climate.
Each is assigned a style of music and must create a brand new track that incorporates that style. The seemingly unstoppable electro producer Skrillex is given the task of making a rock track. Electronic godfathers, The Crystal Method tackle R & B. DJ and Producer Mark Ronson handles a Jazz track. On the other end of the spectrum, hip hop producer DJ Premier was handed Classical and the third electro musician of the hour, Pretty Lights, has to take on country. Each recruits the help of famous musicians in the genres they’re working on and set off to make a killer track.
The majority of the participants put a lot of work into the tracks aiming to create the best mix possible, and in IPMM’s view, it’s the two non-electronic producers who create something special. Mark Ronson plays the guitar as well as being a DJ. He writes a song from scratch, with no production work beyond sitting at the mixing board. While it’s more of a creole style funk song that one might think of more as jazz, it’s a fantastic tune. As Premo heads, we’re happy to report that DJ Premier was the one who truly grasped what the project was all about. He studies a bit with a classical professor. He picks 11 actual pieces by famous composers that he wants to sample, but he doesn’t sample them. He has the Symphony at the Berkley School of Music re-record the sections in the order he has composed, he even takes a small lesson and conducts them. He then has Nas come in and lay down a verse, and layers in subtle beats.
By this point you are saying to yourself, “this is supposed to be a movie recommendation, not a break down.” But this is what RE:Generation is all about. Someone else will watch this movie and completely disagree with everything we said. Perception is a powerful thing. The important thing to remember is that everything has its genesis, whether you’re aware of those particular influences or not, this film proves the importance of sonic fruits born when musicians push the envelope and dare to evolve.
The fact is, music is emotion. Evolving styles impress young voyeurs, but all music has its roots. Whether it’s an ambitious young band building a wall of sound using blues chords, or a producer with an ear for hooks, then laying down new beats over an old classic, no one has ever created anything without inspiration, and RE:Generation proves it.