A suburb populated solely by robots, pristine white rooms lined with glowing buttons, a soft-focus voyage along a naked woman's body? It can only mean one thing: Daft Punk's sci-fi opus is now a reality. By means of an electronic wire connecting London and Paris, Dazed established an audio connection to Thomas Bangalter, and talked leather jackets, black Ferraris and self-destruction.
Dazed Digital: How long has this film been inside your heads?
Thomas Bangalter: It was actually quite spontaneous. The film is full of images we had in our heads that we wanted to bring to life in a very spontaneous way – almost like Jackson Pollock; you throw stuff and see what happens.
DD: So it's not part of a larger whole?
Thomas Bangalter: It's not really a cerebral and intellectual project that we thought about for a long time; it was a more gutsy, visual statement that we wanted to do and did.
DD: Is it based on how people react to you in the masks?
Thomas Bangalter: It's almost a daydream, the process was almost psychoanalytical. We created these images but we weren't really trying to interpret what we were doing in real life with the masks. It was this succession (and that's what I like about surrealism) this succession of visual images. Parts of it came from maybe thinking or expressing our feelings about the masks we wear, but on the other hand, it's a look at a world without any human beings. The last human being becomes the spectator themself, and that's why it's kind of oppressive. Even though there's this expansive landscape, there's a feeling of oppression, frustration and boredom, and these are the kind of things we wanted to express in minimalism because that's what we've always worked on.
DD: So that's not you under there, even with Hedi Slimane's black leather Daft Punk jackets?
Thomas Bangalter: They are more of an example or metaphor. I mean they can represent us; I think we've always worked with ourselves almost as if we're guinea pigs in a experiment. With Electroma that's secondary – they indeed can represent us, but I think it goes beyond that.
DD: There's also the fact there's no dialogue in the film.
Thomas Bangalter: That's true, I think that it's about the idea of wanting to work with cinematic language without any dialogue. We really noticed the power of that when we were working on Interstella 5555. At Cannes, there were people from every country in the world, and with no dialogue and no subtitles, there was this sense that everyone was in this fantasy together. I did a degree in linguistics at University, and it's really interesting for me to see what happens without words.
DD: It's like when they use classical music in outer space.
Thomas Bangalter: If you express things without using dialogue, you can make people even more connected. You can sit next to a Japanese guy and it will be the common denominator. It's also this idea of science fiction and Planet Of The Apes retrofuturism, we wanted people not to know. You have this idea of a lost civilisation where humanity isn't there anymore. The idea for humanity and human beings to experience this and how they will react becomes part of the story itself. That was the idea of the experiment. Where is it? Is it a thousand years in the future, or is it in a parallel universe or is it the 1970s?
DD: So, is there an answer?
Thomas Bangalter: We wanted to make something open, that would make people ask questions, and react to it. It's more a question than an answer. We really didn't want to make just a story, it's more about ideas. A lot of people love it and a lot of people hate it, so everyone can take their own ideas from it and think what they like.
DD: Are you interested in real-life robots?
Thomas Bangalter: I think we are children of technology ourselves, because we are not virtuosos in music or anything, we really are able to do what we do only through technology. The robots are these metaphors for technology, the conflict between technology and mankind, and how technology today is completely invading our lives, from our iPods to our cellphones, and how it's super-practical. It's making, in all of us, these supermen, these superheroes, and it's true that the robots are very exciting and interesting characters because they're a paradox: they're super-sexy and sleek and cool, but also these terrifying things that could replace mankind, and that's pretty scary.
DD: Are you worried this could happen in our lifetime?
Thomas Bangalter: I think it's already started, in a way. I like the idea that it's man's creation, it's an interesting process, seeing how a civilisation has built these tools that could help it eventually self-destruct.
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