Watch this film when it comes out. That is all. End of article.
Just kidding, I’d get in trouble if that’s all I wrote, but honestly, that’s really all there is to it. I had the awesome privilege of attending a screening and Q&A session of the Re:Generation documentary, which follows a multi-artist music project with some of the biggest DJ producers in the business. In the film, you watch the artists step outside their comfort zones and collaborate with icons from musical genres that they grew up listening to.
- The Crystal Method – R&B and Soul
- Mark Ronson – Jazz & Blues
- Skrillex – Classic Rock & Roll
- Pretty Lights – Country
- DJ Premier – Classical
Hosted by Hyundai USA, the event featured a stable of ultra-modified Velosters; a room of street art-inspired works, fashion, and collectibles; a 9-minute screening of Re:Generation (directed by Amir Bar-Lev); and a Q&A session hosted by KCRW’s Jason Bentley with musical guests Erykah Badu, Skrillex, DJ Premier, and The Crystal Method. Oh, and most importantly, an open bar.
The 9-minute screening of the film introduces each above artist and their creative process, scene by scene, city by city, note by note. The night was truly compelling and inspirational. From watching Premier ask questions about piano theory to his tutor like a grade school student, then eventually conduct the Berklee School of Music, to hearing Skrillex speak on his star-struck chills as rock legends The Doors rejoin after a multi-decade break, it was easy to get a genuine feeling of respect and awe for their musical crafts.
You follow The Crystal Method’s journey as they team up with Mother of Motown, Martha Reeves, touring the forgotten fringes of Detroit’s urban society, then, from wanting nothing more than to tell a hometown story, craft one of the most soul-wrenching songs you’ll ever hear: “I’m Not Leaving.”
My favorite tidbits of the evening and the screening were Pretty Lights’ hilariously awkward segments and Mark Ronson’s jazz project. To try to grasp the magnitude of appreciation from these superstar artists can be tough until you hear Erykah Badu, a queen in her own right, praise classic jazz drummer Zigaboo Modeliste as a musical God on stage in person. Really brings it home and reminds you of the genuine passion for music artists of this level harbor.
We forget sometimes that contemporary artists, established as they are, had to start from somewhere. Their influences, aspirations, stories…they’ve always been a part of the artist’s career path, but they aren’t necessarily things the fans see on a daily basis as we’re only ever presented with the spotless, polished final products.
Re:Generation gives you a small glimpse of the creative struggles of artists at the top of their game as they sift through creative differences, go outside their expected boundaries, and really dig deep to make cross-genre music for fans and new listeners alike.
Seriously. Watch this film when it comes out. It will be released in February right around the same time as the Grammy’s (Feb. 12th).