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Laurent Garnier’s Olympic Gold (interview)

Reported by Joshua [Trackitdown] on June 13, 2012

“I don’t have any personal finest sporting moments. I got beaten in boxing competitions, I hated judo and I was crap at all the rest; apart from windsurfing, which I enjoyed very much. My son, who is 8 years old, plays better football than I do.”

Spending four months on his recently completed soundtrack for upcoming high-profile Olympics documentary ‘Play’, legendary French uber-star DJ Laurent Garnier admits he’s ambiguous about sports to the point of usually loathing them.

“I have never been into sports at all even though I did judo, French boxing, handball and volleyball when I was a kid,” he laughs.

“I also had a big windsurfing phase when I was 14, but when I dislocated my shoulder I completely stopped everything.  But in general sport has never been my thing. For me, ever since I was a kid, it was music, Music MUSIC MMMMUUUSSIIICCCC!!!!”

Decidedly un-athletic, he also had little aptitude for track-sports, a failing that caused him more than a few problems from athletically superior teen thugs.

“In Paris in the 80’s you had to run fast as lots of little “connard” were doing a lot of '”dépouille”,” he recalls.

“I did run away from thugs, sure, but they were usually faster than me, so I got done a few times, especially in the Metro (Underground/ S Bahn). On several occasions I lost money, bags, walkmen & even a pair of boots once- I told you I am crap at sports.”

Despite his frank admission, he’s effusively enthusiastic about the new film, produced in collaboration with acclaimed French alternative station Canal +.

“The sport movie will be really awesome, it's a beautiful feature length documentary about every single sports possible- from well known and very conventional ones to super unknown stuff that we've never heard before.”

“The images are really stunning and the music is a very big part of the movie (about 65 minutes of music). They're is also loads of great interviews with the best sportsman- Johnny Wilkinson, Zidane, Haile Gebreselassie, Cantona and so on,” he continues.

“It's gonna’ be something important for us and we (Laurent and his long term producer partner Scan X) are working hard to make it sound the best we can. I have a very good feeling about this one and I am very happy with the music we've done so far . . .”

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Why did he decide to take on the project, given your general lack of sporting prowess and enthusiasm?

Laurent Garnier: “I always liked to do different things, surprise myself and surprise others. I must be the least obvious musician to make music for a sport documentary because I have never EVER been into sports whatsoever. But knowing that, it was of course a greater challenge for me.

It was really exciting to work on a project that I had to share with a big crew of different people. It was a very hard project to work on as the schedule was very tight, there was lots of music to do (70 minutes for 75 minutes of film) for very different topics regarding sport, and of course the scenes kept changing every week so I had to re-adapt the music every time. It was intense, hard but so rewarding in the end. Yes, this is a very big deal for me, and I am very proud of the result.”

Skrufff: What was your initial brief for the music and how did you start? 

Laurent Garnier: “No particular brief, the director just wanted me to make the music, he gave me total freedom. What I loved was the fact that we worked on so many different scenes, from gymnastic to free fighting, from diving to rugby. There are about 40 different tracks on the movie so it gave me the opportunity to work on tones of different moods.”

Skrufff: What was your initial brief for the music and how did you start? What plans for the music in terms of releasing/ playing live?

Laurent Garnier: “None at all. If I want to release the music I will have to rework absolutely everything. The music is so in sync with the images that I don’t think one will work without the other. The production really want to release the music, but so far I want to wait and see how people will feel about the project once it has been played a few times on TV.”

Skrufff: How much are you connected to the sports world and athletes generally?

Laurent Garnier: “Not much, though lately I was invited on two separate occasions to go and DJ at private parties for two different French football superstars (and I mean big kahuna superstar). Of course I didn’t go. All my friends thought I was completely nuts to refuse, but as I said to them it didn’t mean anything to me. I tell you though, it would be very different if Tom Yorke would ask me the same thing.”

Skrufff: How much time and energy do you devote to following sports generally?

Laurent Garnier: “Again, not a huge amount but I must say that when France won the world football final, I followed all the matches and went partying all night long on the Champs Elysée. And when we beat Italy later on for another big cup, we were coming back from a gig with my crew, we had the keys of the Rex Club with us, so we went straight there from the airport to watch the game on a big screen (there was only 6 of us). 

After France won, I DJed for my 5 friends until 7am and we ended up drinking the club’s entire stock of champagne and falling asleep there. It was mad.  The next day the boss was not very impressed either.”

Skrufff: What was your initial brief for the music and how did you start? There seems to be rather a lot of naked men in the video; how did you set about making music for those bits in particular?

Laurent Garnier: “Those were of course my favourite parts, especially when the big hairy dudes are covering themselves with sunflower oil before wrestling. Very inspiring indeed (laughing).”

Skrufff: What was your initial brief for the music and how did you start? How patriotic are you? How much do you care how many Gold medals France win?

Laurent Garnier: “Of course I will be happy if France wins gold medals (who wouldn’t be), especially now after working on this documentary. It’s very strange but since working on this I feel much more connected to these athletes. And after listening to all these great interviews in the movie, I can finally say that I understand much more about the passion that drives them in sports and I feel closer to these people than before. 

I discovered a lot of similarities between what they say and how I feel about music. And the more bizarre thing is now I can have a sport conversation with my mates- I tell you, that has surprised a few of them.”  (Click here for a promo clip of the film) (in French)

Jonty Skrufff: