How did you get on a Luc Besson film?
By a call! I knew some of his films, and some of Eric’s music. Luke called me, offering me to work with him for “Lucy”. We had lunch together, then I saw some scenes and I said yes immediately. I felt potential. But my inspiration for the song is very abstract. I was on a plane returning from the Sundance Film Festival and there was a whole group of Mormons on there… They all had a sticker with their name, and one of them was ‘Sister Rust’. It was obvious: Scarlett Johansson made a trip into the unknown with “Lucy”, similar to the total and complete faith that Mormons have in their religion.
It is surprising to see you in a French production. Instead, I imagine you in the studio with Ken Loach …
Well, I love Ken Loach and his science fiction. Loach never asked me anything. All musicians are seeking for new collaborations, new ideas. Why would I say no to Luc Besson?
Is it more complicated to write a song for a movie rather than for an album?
For a film, I tell you, the connection between the song and the images is quite distant. I went to the studio Eric Serra owns in the Seine. He took me to dinner because there was nothing really ready at that time. Then he played me some things. It has a sound of its own, which is really Besson. And I was interested on being a member of the team, not to be at the front. For once. I’ve experienced the same sensation when I was planning my opera “Dr Dee”. And now, between gigs, I write the soundtrack for a film. It is exciting…
Is cinema important in your life?
Oh yes ! And much more than we imagine. I developed my artistic sense primarily through film. If I set Blur with Graham is because we watched together “Meantime” by Mike Leigh, one of his first films: Gary Oldman, Tim Roth and Phil Daniels . This is the story of two brothers who are linked forever. It was projected to our relationship and our story. We wanted to experience the same thing with music. And I was also completely marked for “Village of the Damned”. Recently, in Hamburg, while visiting the cathedral, someone played the organ. That was a weird sound, very long, haunting, almost reminded me of the soundtrack of “Village of the Damned”. Since my childhood, I know how music and images can provide you all types of sensations … This film perfectly showed that music can control minds and people. Finally, there is “The Time Machine” by George Pal, who deeply pleased me as a teenager. I was delighted that at the end of “Lucy”, Luc Besson made a wink to that film.
If you had to choose between theater and cinema, what would you choose?
The theater, as it is more involved with the whole creative process. For “Lucy” I arrived at the end of the work. I’m also preparing a new creation for the National Theatre in London next year. Rufus Norris, with whom I did “Dr Dee” was appointed as the head [of the National Theatre] and offered me a project that I could not refuse. When we launched “Dr Dee”, was really like starting on a white paper, nothing was ready beforehand. The result is the fruit of our imagination. It is an exhilarating task.
Of all your musical activities, which do you prefer?
I always choose creation. I like being on stage, but I get bored pretty fast. Chained every night for months to the same songs, to drink at the same hours, settling into the routine of the tour, it’s not fulfilling.
For the first time, you are playing your own songs. It is more rewarding?
I have always played my own songs! It makes no difference if it is Blur, Gorillaz or solo. Right now, I have this ultimate luxury of not having to sing the hits. We just did ten concerts in twelve days. We went to Lyon, including the ancient theater of Fourvière which I love because it is the best canteen in the world. If all festivals were like that, I would spend my life on them. But when I’m facing 65,000 people in Belgium, I have to sing a few tunes, just to remind the children who I am.
The critic has praised “Everyday Robots”. One has the impression that, whatever you do, we will love it …
It has not always been the case … What I like most is that I have been more and more aware of time passing. I know my record will be still listened in a few years and it will be even more appreciated.
You have said this is a new way of life for you. Can you be more precise?
I realized that the music world has completely changed. The future is streaming, and we, the musicians, soon we will have to capitulate. It will happen much faster than I imagined. We try to fight against pirates, but the decline is well within the stores. The market is in the process of rebalancing in favor of the online offer. It was not my initial desire, but it has become a necessity. Take “House of Cards”: the series was put online before being marketed. This new chapter of my life is this one: conceive more albums, broadcast the songs and see where it takes us. It is an interesting challenge.
Do you still support Chelsea?
Obviously! I look forward to play against PSG again. Frankly, pay 40 million for David Luiz which proved being totally ineffective during the World Cup, it’s a joke! And I’m not talking about Thiago Silva, the captain, who cried at every game! I hope you do not support this team! [laughs]