WORDS

Noisia on Blade Runner: Romance, Escapism & Pleasure Model

Who would like to have seen Noisia score Blade Runner 2049?

In a parallel universe, there was a chance it could have happened…

“I remember we had a really small chance of cold call in with Ridley Scott when he started this movie,” recalled Nik Roos, one third of the trio and card carrying Blade Runner fan.

“I sent a personal email to him, hoping it would get through, saying ‘we’d love to do the music and we think we’d do a good job’ It never happened, of course. To be honest I don’t think we’d have been a good fit. You need someone as daring as Vangelis. Someone who can make the music its own character and just go for it. I think we would have been too careful and a bit too monotonous and tunnelling.”

Yet it wasn’t Vangelis’s groundbreaking, largely improvised, score that first grabbed Nik. It was the story, aesthetic and romantic sense of escapism that sucked him into its world long before the music. In fact he didn’t like Vangelis’s music first at all. But it grew on him. As he hopes 2049 wil…

“I’m really grateful that Blade Runner 2049 is there. Denis Villeneuve is a very creative and forward-thinking director and Sicario and Arrival are some of my favourite films of the last 12 months,” he explains. “He did his own thing with Blade Runner 2049 and I respect that. There’s no rushing, it’s carefully done. The pacing works well generally considering most movies are really quick. The visuals are really impressive, too.

“The problem was that I had incredibly high expectations because I love the original so much and had watched it a couple of days earlier. And because of this I found myself resisting it and I know I didn’t get the beauty of it. The good parts got lost on me. I hate to be the kind of person who’s like ‘they should have done this! They should have done that! You know about this piece of art? Well they should have done it differently. I know what they should have done!’ I don’t want to be that guy. So I’m going to see it a bunch more times in the cinema and I’m going to love it. But I’ll love it as a separate thing. I’m going to pull it away from my relationship with the original and love it for what it is. It deserves that and it’s a great work.”

We asked Nik to explain the impact the original Ridley Scott 1982 original had on him. Not only is 2049 still fresh on the big screen, but Noisia have just released the replicant-referencing Pleasure Model with fellow Groningen artist and rising Division artist Former. A tune that he describes as a ‘female robot uprising’, while it was written months before 2049’s hype started to rise, its timing couldn’t be better.

Get to know:

The romance

“For me, Blade Runner is escapism within escapism. Double layered escapism. Science fiction is escapism. It asks the question; what if there was a whole different world where I would be a completely different person? This is a romantic sensation based on escapism. Then to add to that, Blade Runner has this other layer of escapism that identifies with Deckard, the ex-blade runner who lives on the outer fringes. It’s another level of escapism because he isn’t participating in that society either. So you’re creating this whole new world and then you’re also not participating in that. That’s mega romantic.”

The music

“When I first watched Blade Runner as a teenager I have to admit that I didn’t like all of the music at all. I was really focused on tunnelling techno-influenced drum & bass. The meandering, romantic, quite baroque synth work that Vangelis put in there was too much for me. I wasn’t into major keys or having that many key changes and found it almost kitsch and overly romantic and not cool enough. I wanted it all to be tunnelling and dark.

“Over time I appreciated that the movie’s visuals create that dark tunnelling sensation. The music has so much heart to counter that. I love how the music is a character in itself. Vangelis has that unique sound that goes out on a limb.

“It’s what characterises and symbolises Deckard’s hope, dreams and saviour. He’s a retired robot killer, he’s not a happy guy, he’s been killing robots all his life which is a pretty shitty job and he falls in love with a robot and decides that he wants to believe in that and go for that. The music is about that love. Obviously Harrison is the perfect man for the job as the lead actor with his crooked smile that’s so cheesy. Trying to look cool in the shittest situations. That’s one of many great quirks, others include aspects like Rutger Hauer not being the best actor in the world and delivering lines in a funny way. Or that dream shot with unicorn? That’s kitsch as fuck but it sits in the movie and it’s okay. It’s not over-stylised or over analysed.

“I also used to least like the music in the love scene between Deckard and Rachel. That saxophone… Now I absolutely love it. It’s so kitsch but so amazing, so dead on. Like sinking into a thick mist of hopeless surrender…”

 

The aesthetic

“Visually as well, the original Blade Runner get its just right. The cityscapes, the rain, the atmosphere, the fashion, the hustle and bustle and the romance of being on the outside of society and falling in love with a robot. There’s a lot of different colours in the movie. And I think a lot of that is down to Syd Mead, the visual artist for the movie. Together with Ridley Scott’s aesthetic, they work so well together. The big vistas, the spaceships – I can’t put into words how much it means to me and how well it sits with me.

“The visuals and the vibe have had such a gigantic impact on me and probably almost everyone in Drum & Bass – I remember Dom & Roland saying he knew the song was right when during listening he closed his eyes he saw ‘that Blade Runner shit’. We owe so much to that film! I remember when he came out with this song in 2008 (after already many years of releasing music that referenced and took inspiration from this film) it hit me so hard and I got sucked in once again… So sick”

 

The Pleasure Model…

“The track I made with Former wasn’t actually directly inspired or triggered by Blade Runner 2049 at all. If anything it was Ghost In The Shell. I’d re-watched the anime and saw that movie and I was working on these chord sequences which became the start of this track. It fits his way of putting emotion in music. I sent it to him and said ‘hey dude, I made this and thought of you, wanna collab?’

“So for me, those chords had a Manga and anime aesthetic. It gave me images of female robots, beaten up and treated like shit. It made me think of Pris the pleasure model in Blade Runner. How evil she can be, even though she looks quite cute, and how damaged she is. The whole idea of a pleasure model is an incredibly dark thing. I really like the idea of our song being about that initial vulnerability of a female, or female robot, who gets beaten on and abused… And then has its vengeance . That’s what the track is about – it’s about the female pleasure model striking back and killing a lot of things. It’s an uprising of trampled female robots. It’s a feminist track.

“Former was great to collaborate with because of this. I find his take on music really interesting and how he’s able to evoke strange feelings from his music. His music is really about the human robot thing. To me, anyway. The realness of emotion and machines. He sits on that uncomfortable edge. We have a few more things in the works…”

Former – Edge Mecha is out now on Division

Follow Noisia – Facebook / Twitter / Soundcloud