Pop Press: Re:Generation

the news desk looks at the new EDM documentary debuting tomorrow featuring Skrillex, DJ Premier, Mark Ronson, Pretty Lights and The Crystal Method …

The worlds of hip-hop, funk, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, soul and country get remixed by some of the kingpins of electronic dance music in the new documentary Re:Generation.

Re:Generation, produced in association with The Grammys and the new Hyundai Veloster, will be released tomorrow, Feb. 16, as ‘a unique nationwide, one-night only theatrical release in select cities and venues.’ There will be encore screenings at very select venues on Thursday, Feb. 23.

The film is directed by acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Amir Bar Lev — the creator of such docs as My Kid Could Paint That and The Tillman Story.

The current king of EDM, multi-Grammy winner, Skrillex.
Photo: Brian Nevins.

With Re:Generation, Lev follows five of the biggest names in electronic music: Skrillex, DJ Premier, Pretty Lights, Mark Ronson and The Crystal Method. The film documents the experience of each of these artists as they head into the studio with bands, musicians and producers from varied genres.

Here is the synopsis of the film from the official press release …

“In the film, five-time Grammy-nominated artist Skrillex heads into a Los Angeles studio with members of the iconic rock band The Doors to collaborate on a new song, ‘Breakn’ A Sweat.’ Meanwhile, The Crystal Method touched down in Detroit to work with Martha Reeves of The Vandellas and The Funk Brothers on the R&B number ‘I’m Not Leaving.’ Mark Ronson created a southern brew of New Orleans jazz in ‘A La Modeliste’ that boasts a veritable all-star cast of Erykah Badu, Trombone Shorty, Mos Def, Zigaboo Modeliste and Members of The Dap Kings. DJ Premier tapped NAS and Boston’s very own Berklee Symphony Orchestra for his ‘Regeneration,’ and the documentary culminates in Nashville on the dusty, intergalactic twang of Pretty Lights’ ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ featuring vocals from LeAnn Rimes and Dr. Ralph Stanley.”

Here are some of the tracks you’ll hear in the film, with a description from Re:Generation’s website:

Mark Ronson — Jazz — “A La Modeliste” (with Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Trombone Shorty, members of the Dap Kings and Zigaboo Modeliste)

“You can practically smell the gumbo, jambalaya, and booze on Bourbon Street as the piano boogie of ‘A La Modeliste’ starts to simmer. Mark Ronson takes old fashioned jazz down a new road with a little help from Erykah Badu, Trombone Shorty, Mos Def, Zigaboo Modeliste, and members of The Dap Kings. Badu touts a smoky register reminiscent of the genre’s heyday, while Mos Def injects a slight dose of New York grit into this unabashedly Southern romp. Ronson doesn’t skimp on the bells and whistles either, as the track dives deep into traditional jazz instrumentation emanating from legendary drummer Modeliste and sassy brass courtesy of Trombone Shorty. It’ll make any evening a scorcher.”

Skrillex — Rock — “Breakn’ A Sweat” (with members of The Doors)

“‘Breakin’ a Sweat’ formally introduces the Facebook generation to psychedelic rock with a little help from three of the genre’s pioneers — Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore of The Doors, celebrating a musical coming together since 1978’s An American Prayer was recorded at the mecca of alternative culture, Venice Beach, CA. Manzarek’s shimmering keyboards recall ‘Light My Fire,’ while blazing a decidedly new trail. A tribal beat ushers in a decidedly danceable break from Skrillex as Krieger’s guitar cycles in and out of the synth swells. The DJ and producer declares, ‘I’m breakin’ a sweat,’ while calculated handclaps propel rock ‘n’ roll to a new plateau. Skrillex’s bass wobbles and breaks as the keyboard washes over the electronic soundscape. One final drum buildup from Densmore snaps into a heavy, hypnotic and heartfelt explosion. The song’s immortal Southern California groove would certainly make The Lizard King proud.”

DJ Premier — Classical — “Regeneration” (with NAS and the Berklee Symphony Orchestra)

“DJ Premier tackled classical music with a little help from Boston’s famed Berklee Symphony Orchestra and New York hip hop legend Nas. His expansive production began with some classical crate digging from which he separated eleven pieces of music and then pulled them together to be rescored and recorded by the Berklee Symphony Orchestra, especially for his song. Enhancing the enchanting flourishes of violin as Nas sums everything up with one word: ‘regeneration.’ The MC’s fiery flow ignites another turning point for music, dropping airtight rhymes in between orchestral pockets. Everything subsides into a calming bridge midsong that bears the mystical elegance of your favorite film score as one last triumphant movement begins. It’s a monumental masterwork that’d be equally perfect on playlists featuring either Tchaikovsky or Jay-Z.”

The Crystal Method — R&B — “I’m Not Leaving” (with Martha Reeves of The Vandellas and the Funk Brothers)

“Breakbeat maestros The Crystal Method ventured to the heart of Detroit city for this swaggering and sexy combination of R&B, funk, and electro. A guitar riff energizes the verse as Martha Reeves of The Vandellas channels soul ghosts with the prowess of an entire gospel choir. It’s here the Motown native finds her lyrical inspiration reflecting on her home as it perseveres in economic turmoil. Together they visit the Ford Theater, the first place Martha ever sang as it was being demolished and Heidelberg Street, which for the past 25 years artist Tyree Guyton transformed his childhood home into a block-long art instillation. ‘Multicolored giant dots festoon a white house, another house is covered with stuffed animals, clocks hang on trees and repainted advertising posters line old fencing,’ described Andrew Bender of the Los Angeles Times (11/13/11). Legendary Detroit players The Funk Brothers add their classic touch, and The Crystal Method bring all of these elements together into one raucous R&B jam that’ll get crowds moving for years to come. It’s hard not to start shaking your hips once this jam kicks in.”

Pretty Lights — Country — “Wayfaring Stranger” (with Dr. Ralph Stanley and LeAnn Rimes)

“Denver’s Pretty Lights moseyed on down to Nashville in order to craft a remake of Burl Ives’ ‘Wayfaring Stranger,’ a haunting, hypnotic reinterpretation of country music. It’s as if he brought the genre to outer space on a trip hop rocket. An airy guitar strum rises like smoke signals alongside Dr. Ralph Stanley’s soulful croon. LeAnn Rimes turns into a 21st century sonic seductress as her vocals resound through a haze of whistling, guitar, and synth beats. This ‘Stranger’ won’t be leaving your mind anytime soon.”

For more information, check out:

Presented by Hyundai Veloster in association with The Grammys, the Re:Generation Music Project crosses the most unexpected generations and genres in today’s most innovative form of music creativity. Hyundai’s role as the project’s benefactor not only supports the artists, but is creating an ambitious platform that challenges artists to fashion something they might not otherwise have imagined for these captured “fish out of water” moments. Scott Kirkland of The Crystal Method puts it best: “There is no sound we can’t make. There’s not a beat we can’t create. There’s not an artist we can’t record … Now what?” “You just put me in a whole different way on how to listen,” adds DJ Premier.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.