Dazed talks to Daniel Lopatin about composing music for dancing robots
Oneohtrix Point Never aka Brooklyn-based musician Daniel Lopatin, recently created an otherworldly electronic soundtrack for 16 dancing robot quadrotors at Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Director’s Showcase in Cannes. Seemingly made for each other, the robots were choreographed to Lopatin’s music in a mesmerising one-off show for this year’s “Meet Your Creator” theme. With the quadrotors flying in intricate formations to Lopatin’s anthemic, almost rapturous hymn, the show perfectly encapsulated Lopatin’s characteristic retro-futurism, while bringing in a sly take on new age spiritualism.
Dazed Digital: How did the collaboration with everyone on the New Directors’ Showcase come about?
Daniel Lopatin: We tried to hook up last summer - NDS and I have some mutual acquaintances so the dialogue was natural. Collabs are always appealing to me, especially when they are cross-disciplinary because there's so much to learn about your own musical ideas from the ways in which your collaborators will interface with them. It's a refreshing and challenging break from my solo world where I only have myself to answer for. I also really liked that they wanted to do a somewhat sardonic take on new age tropes; that definitely caught my attention.
DD: Did you have the quadrotors and performance elements in mind when you composed the music?
Daniel Lopatin: I recorded certain sections as to compliment the quadrotors and their movements, but I received a lot of excellent guidance from NDS. I just wanted to do my best to strip away the 'musical' aspects and just work with sound in a way that would strengthen the connections between the sound and visual aspects.
DD: What kind of challenges did you face while working on the music?
Daniel Lopatin: It's generally a challenge to work remotely on a project like this; you really want to be in the thick of it with people and be able to demo things quickly. So I would say that was the hardest part, not being there with the crew.
DD: Do you think the ‘Meet Your Creator’ theme resonates with any current cultural movements?
Daniel Lopatin: Surely; I think its a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek look at the commercialization of mysticism and the subtext of 'peace' and 'tranquility' that everyone is searching from in that sense... this is coupled with this sort of sinister Fire in the Sky / X Files / Close Encounters abduction vibe... which is a perfect combo on so many levels.
DD: What was the best part of being involved with the NDS?
Daniel Lopatin: NDS' enthusiasm was my favorite part. And deciphering each other's ideas and finding a common language was very gratifying.
DD: How did you feel seeing the quadrotors choreographed to your music?
Daniel Lopatin: Honestly I was touched; I really couldn't believe it, given how much flexibility and freedom I had to compose, how well they were able to then mechanize my musical ideas - it was a treat and something I never imagined I'd be able to be a part of. I'm really stoked.