by Craig Stephens
RE:GENERATION is a feature length documentary that explores the history of music through five DJ/Producers. The DJs embark on a musical odyssey to create a cutting edge electronic track inspired by one of five traditional musical genres: Jazz, R&B, Country, Classical and Rock.
Funded by US automotive company Hyundai Re:Generation is a documentary styled feature film that couples various name DJ’s with unlikely counterparts. The PR mantra reads – “Follow DJ Premier, Mark Ronson, Skrillex, Pretty Lights and The Crystal Method as they remix, recreate and re-imagine five traditional styles of music.”
Regardless as to whether you’re a fan of Marc Ronson, Skrillex, or whoever from this hi profile cast of jetsetting pilots riding the wheels of steel, Re:Generation offers a refreshing snapshot of the creative process.
It’s a behind the scenes, gritty portrayal of production, with creative types brainstorming and collaborating. Who you ask? this month’s hipster darling Skrillex combines with Doors Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek – fun and furious simultaneously. Another scene sees Colorado based DJ/ producer Pretty Lights collaborate with country music’s Leann Rimes and bluegrass icon Ralph Stanley.
Meanwhile DJ Premier creates a classic piece with 58-member Berkley Symphony Orchestra and Nas. Mark Ronson gets together with the Dap Kings, Erykah Badhu, and Trombone Shorty for a jazz tune. These are people in work mode, passionate, focused and electric with creativity. Nerves on edge, heart’s pumping, veins throbbing, – sort of.
Beyond the glamour of Regan’s high production shtick, the reality of a marathon session in the average recording studio is another story. Most behind the scenes stuff isn’t such a dignified process, and far more aligned to smelly people in tracksuits chain smoking and arguing as they redo the same track and or edit – oh the irony.
Re:Generation s an interesting project and an innovative marketing move by Hyundai, and that’s probably why it seems like a long commercial. Notable due to its tone, editing, narrative and camera angles.
All up it’s kinda forgettable and superfluous. Yet on another level, Re:Generation does explore the paradoxical notion of artistic preciousness.
Is the DJ genre, something at its core immediate and disposable meant to be cherished, archived and worshipped? Further, does the gilded halo that accompanies celebrity fuel or undermine the creative process?
RE:Generation – A First Look – Courtesy of HyundaiUSA
Ultimately, the best musicians, like the best artists, writers, painters, actors and directors are those who tap a wealth of fresh ideas . In turn they can afford to be humble about their former glories and flexible with the translation of their ideas. But let’s get back on track – this is a film about audio doodling, and conjuring a soundtrack for dancing – it probably won’t make you think too much.
In select theaters on February 16th and 23rd only.