Eden Co-Writer Sven Hansen-Løve on Daft Punk Involvement, Realism, EDM Evolution [INTERVIEW]
Pete Tong recently challenged electronic music to make its genre's chef d'oeuvre akin to those in hip-hop and funk, asking, "Where's our Saturday Night Fever? Where's our Empire? Where's our Do the Right Thing or Hustle & Flow?" The genre, which can fill nightclubs, festival grounds and arenas, may have found a movie, which has the potential to fill the seats at movie theaters. Mia Hansen-Løve & Sven Hansen-Løve's new film Eden has been garnering a fair amount of press from music publications for its connection to Daft Punk and its ability to artistically portray the growth of the 1990s French house scene from the light of a struggling DJ in a much more humanist and realistic approach.
The realism that comes across to the viewer is not the work of just some deft camera work, excellent props or wizardry with special effects - the settings are all almost just as they once was were. Speaking to Sven on the phone, he emphasized his sister's insistence on getting the little details right.
"I think it's because my sister, she's really likes things to be authentic. Authenticity is super important because she thinks poetry comes from real life" Sven explained. "That's her point of view, so she cares a lot about detail. Many people helped us to make sure that everything like the set, the costumes, the music were precise and authentic."
As a film that starts in the golden age of French house music, the 1990's, some of the key players from the era are highlighted in the movie. The protagonists are Cheers, Paul's garage duo with his good friend Stan, who is portrayed by Hugo Conzelmann. However the foil to Paul's career, which he found very difficult to sustain, are the almighty French robots Daft Punk. Though Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter do not appear in the movie themselves, they are played by actors Arnaud Azoulay and Vincent Lacoste and their roles including the running joke of being denied at the door at clubs because bouncers do not recognize them without their helmets on is all true.
Getting them involved was rather easy for Mia and Sven who describes meeting with the duo to try and get the normally reclusive pair's blessing.
"Well I was and still am friends with them and everything that you see in the film is kind of true. My sister knew that in the early stage of the film it was very important to get their help and involvement. So right when she had the idea of the film we went to see them and ask them if they agreed to do Eden the way they are and they agreed. They found it funny and so we saw them two times and we had discussions s with them - especially Thomas, and they gave us some suggestions, some comments and critiques about the script. That came also rather naturally and easily. Of course I used to be a great, friend of Thomas right before they got all this success. He was really positive and he really liked my sister. He knew her films and he really liked them."
Eden is not just a film about music, though that is focal point, it chronicles the personal struggle of a man named Paul, played by Félix de Givry, as he navigates a very nasty cocaine addiction, troubled relationships and an up-and-down DJ career that eventually lands him in crippling debt.
The film covers nearly 15 years of Paul's life, starting the rise of his career all the way to his ungraceful fall from prominence and struggle to land on his feet out of music. Within that time period, Paris and electronic music change drastically and Paul fails to keep up with it. One of the club owners, which they have a long standing and successful residency at, not so subtly recommends they start playing some new music -- electro -- like the lesbian club across town.
Sven recollects on how things have changed since he started Djing, noting what technology has done to the craft.
"We're not DJing with laptops, we are DJing with vinyls, which is much more difficult. Right now the programs and all the technology allows you to do more difficult stuff, and the computer programs create for you. Back then you had to learn how to do it and to learn took one year, two years to learn - like an instrument really. Now in one week you can be very good, so I think that's one of the main differences."
In 20 years, it isn't just the equipment inside of the DJ booths that has changed -- how much attention is being paid to those inside has risen dramatically.
"Also the other difference is that EDM is so big and now it's almost like mainstream music, but at that time it was underground and really fresh and new, but it's not anymore," remarks Sven.
Though change has been seen the most drastically with the EDM boom in the United States over the past 5-6 years, Paris, usually too cool to be swept up in trends as a trendsetting city, has not been immune to recent hype of EDM.
"All the young people are listening to electronic music," admits Sven. "But it doesn't mean that it's bad, I mean there are good things about it also because the people have became more critical. They are asking for more, so you have more and more music, more and more DJs, and there are good sides of all of that."
Eden opened last night in select theaters in Los Angeles and New York City after nearly two years of film festivals and being available abroad. It is too early to gauge the reaction of the general public who has seen the film, but Sven already has a read on what people will think when they see Eden.
"I think there will be a lot of nostalgia because a lot of the music we're talking about came from the States in the 90s from Chicago, New York, and Detroit. We did a lot of festivals in the states like New York, San Francisco and then we went to Canada, Toronto. We have many people coming to see us and saying, "Oh, I really feel the film because I remember so many things and it brings back so many memories. So many people say 'Oh, it's my life you're talking about,' so I guess some people can relate to it because it's their youth, it's talking in a way about their youth in the club, and things they had to do in their youth."
Eden is now out in select theaters in Los Angeles and New York. Check your local listings and if you want a copy of the 42-track soundtrack, which features iconic tracks from Daft Punk, The Orb, Kings Of Tomorrow, Frankie Knuckles and many more check out our free giveaway here.