Bikini Machine compose a 'cinéconcert' score for Desperado
Fred Gransard, Bikini Machine's lead singer explains his Desperado cineconcert in Edinburgh
This article is from 2011.
Each year, the French Institute for Scotland takes part in the Edinburgh International Film Festival and strives to bring the media of music and film together to form one piece of intercontinental art. This year, the Institute have invited five independent bands from Rennes, Brittany to perform a live accompaniment to a series of films from across the globe, creating a mini series of 'cinéconcerts' for the festival's visitors between the 20th and 24th June. As a cultural phenomenon in recent years throughout France, the notion of 'cinéconcerts' has ultimately allowed bands to access and re-edit the films and to compose their own scores to accompany them. With inspiration originating from the old silent films, modern cinéconcerts have already achieved an array of different reactions from their audiences; from humorous effects, to a more thrilling atmosphere, to the spectacular. In the case of this year's selection the majority of films happen to be cult classics of the twentieth century, including the cult television show from the late 60s, The Prisoner (1967) and Duel (1971), directed by Stephen Spielberg.
One of the cinéconcerts featured this year is a collaboration between the sequel to El Mariachi, (Robert Rodriguez, 1992) – Desperado (Robert Rodriguez, 1995) – and the music of French indie-rockers, Bikini Machine. The plot of Desperado, with a cameo appearance from renowned director Quentin Tarantino, relays the tale of a musician-turned-gunslinger played by Antonio Banderas (Once Upon a Time in Mexico 2003, The Mask of Zorro, 1998) and the drug-lord with whom he is set on getting revenge he murdered his lover and the maimed his guitar-playing hand. Set in Mexico, Rodriguez plays on the classic Western theme and parallels the stark violence found in the work of Sam Pekinpah amongst some other great directors, yet he still finds time to modernise it with a well-known cast and rocking soundtrack from Mexican band Los Lobos. So how do a French, indie rock band like Bikini Machine improve on this already seemingly great film? Their sound can be likened to that of the well loved 60s pop-rock scene with a modern electro twist, but how does this connect to Rodriguez's Western thriller when the original soundtrack is filled with fast paced traditional Mexican music? The List discovered a few insights behind the Desperado cinéconcerts in a short interview with Fred Gransard, Bikini Machine's lead singer and drummer.
So what made you decide on Desperado as the subject of the cinéconcert? Is it a favourite film of yours or was it a random decision?
- Initially we decided to create a cinéconcert for the cultural 'Year of Mexico' in France, a celebration of Mexican arts and culture. At the beginning, our personal choice was the science fiction movie Planet Terror (2007), but the only Rodriguez one available to use for a cinéconcert creation (according to the production) was Desperado.
As a band, do you feel like music has a large part in the interpretation of a film, from the viewers point of view?
- Yes, a lot of movies would be viewed so differently without music. Take for example Le Mépris (1963), the Jean-Luc Godard film starring Jack Palance and Brigitte Bardot. The music that the composer, Georges Delerue, adapted for the film bring the movie up to the standard that it is revered for today. It's difficult to imagine Le Mépris without Delerue's scores. We could apply the same argument to a lot of classic films.
How do you think the viewer's will react to your own interpretation of the film, especially fans of the original edit?
- In the original version, different songs have been compiled and there are a few special parts composed by Los Lobos, so the majority of it was not an original score made for the film. For us, the original edit is not fantastic, so sorry for those fans! Our version is much more rock 'n roll with raw cuts. But there are some parts with subtle humour too. It goes well with the universe of Rodriguez: violence, glamour and a particular sense of humour!
A lot of your tracks have a lot of vintage aspects, as well as modern, especially in the cinéconcert trailer I viewed. It could be linked it to a few modern soundtracks, from films like Tarantino's Kill Bill (2001) for example. Do you think your new score adds to or compliments the film's atmosphere?
- Yes, I think it's certainly better this way. And it is true, our music definitely has a retro side but it's also a modern process as well. We have a special way of visiting 60s and 70s pop rock, mixing funky beats with surf rock, electronics and orchestral pop, and bringing it together to create a unique sound… like in your example, a Tarantino film has the same sort of feel. And Rodriguez is a pretty similar kind of filmmaker! So yes, we hope our cuts add to the film.
Finally, what are your personal thoughts on the end product? Would you do anything differently?
- No, all is perfect, nothing could be changed...maybe just bring fifty strings with us sometimes!
The Desperado/Bikini Machine screening can be viewed at the French Institute (Randolph Crescent) on Tue 21 June from 8–10pm and the Wed 22 June from 6–8pm.