Computerized: The Never-Before-Told Story of How Disney Got Daft Punk for Tron: Legacy
Here's the real, untold story about the Daft Punk and Jay-Z collaboration that did happen but won't ever feel like it did because it will likely never be heard by the general public.This article originally appeared on Oh My Disney
“You want to hear the Jay-Z song?” asked Mitchell Leib, President, Music and Soundtracks for Walt Disney Records. I had come to his office, in the old Ink & Paint building at the Walt Disney Studios lot, to talk about how Disney secured Daft Punk, (recently described by Canadian musician Chilly Gonzales as “funky, sad, French robots who elevated music to the level of conceptual art”) to compose the score for the highly-touted sci-fi fantasy TRON: Legacy. I thought the chat would last 15 minutes. By the time he asked this question, behind his large wooden desk in a room filled with enough incredible music memorabilia to fill several Hard Rock Cafés, we had already been talking for nearly two hours.
(And I’ll get to the Jay-Z song in a minute.)
“Look at TRON. Look at Daft Punk. It’s genius. And it’s pretty obvious,” Leib extolled. “It’s like, phenomenal casting.”
His recollection is that before there was even a director attached to the film (around 2007), Sean Bailey (who is now head of production at the studio, but was a producer at the time) and producer Justin Springer, approached Daft Punk. Which meant that it was either during or after their groundbreaking “Alive” 2007 tour. The finale number of that tour involved Daft Punk (nee Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo) in their full robot regalia–with the special addition of neon piping–conducting a symphony of lights and effects from within a giant light-up pyramid. These outfits were, as was pointed out by many music journalists at the time, hugely influenced by the world of TRON.
At the time, Daft Punk or their manager listened to the pitch but were still too busy to commit. “Daft Punk, for the most part, only do one thing at a time, which is why they’re so great at what they do—it is incredible focus. So I think at the time that they were initially approached, they were too tied up with other things.”
Still, the creative team persisted. At that point director Joseph Kosinski (an advertising wunderkind and protégé of David Fincher, who had been brought onto his project for his bold take on the material), and KCRW’s Jason Bentley (who was serving as the film’s music consultant), had also spoken to them. But they still had yet to officially sign on. Eventually the project wound up in Leib’s court. “That was my job: to meet them and help convince them to score the film. And that took another four or five months to get them to commit...