By Brent Burns
If you put your finger on a map of Hollywood, Calif., last night, you could have felt the pulse of dance/electronica music. Thursday was a historic day for music and, more specifically, for dance/electronica music as it marked the premiere of The Recording Academy and Hyundai's Re:Generation music project documentary. Five electronica DJs and producers, (DJ Premier, the Crystal Method, Pretty Lights, Mark Ronson, and Skrillex) collaborated with some of the most influential artists from five different genres outside dance/electronica. What at first might seem like a challenge, placing different generations and musical styles together, instead produced amazing collaborations that highlighted the incredible creative process and the universality of dance/electronica.
The night fit perfectly with The Academy's own We Are Music campaign. Each artist profiled lives and breathes music and demonstrated how their own personal touches create the sounds we treasure and the GRAMMYs honor each year. Hyundai and The Academy should be proud, not just of the collaborations highlighted in their sponsored documentary, but also of the organic and inspirational nature of the film.
Director Amir Bar-Lev more than achieved his goal to marry spontaneity and the dynamic nature of documentaries with the lustrous, larger-than-life sensibility of commercials and music videos. Re:Generation was a true indulgence of the senses, a night of music on shuffle, like combining everyone's favorite radio stations into mixes and soundtracks they didn't know they loved, much less needed.
A perfect example was the combination of Premier and classical music. As Boston's renowned Berklee Symphony Orchestra tuned their instruments and launched into his composition, you could see the memories of Premier's own childhood streaming across his face. A true artist is unable to "cheat" or pretend an emotion like that, and the joint enterprise between Premier and Berklee served as the ideal demonstration of just how accessible dance/electronica music can be, a vessel for any genre.
I could speak endlessly to each artist's unique caliber of talent, but it was Pretty Lights and his country collaboration with LeAnn Rimes that stole the show. What could have been a crashing competition between two powerful arenas of music instead became a perfect display of seeing life through different eyes, different versions of the same beautiful vision. His genius was transparent and honest, and in the end his method of creating a sonic masterpiece had nothing to do with the genre, but with capturing emotion through song. And having experienced his unique and raw talent in concert, I couldn't help but be reminded how lucky I was to experience one of the most inspirational films I've ever seen. It was a cinematic breakthrough with forward-thinking partnerships leading an industry that mirrors life's tempo … music.