The legendary French electronic duo talk about their upcoming “space opera” Iris.
Spotlights flood across mirrors from centre of a futuristic floating structure, like stars whizzing past at light speed. Lighting dances in flashes across rotating LED panels. A golden glow rises up to the ceiling like we’re witnessing moments just after an eclipse, the sun overwhelming the eyes. And at the centre, are two figures casting a mysterious shadow – Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay of French electronic duo Justice – emitting their euphoric, signature electronic sound we’ve come to know and love over the last decade.
Their latest behemoth of a project is Iris: A Space Opera by Justice, a 60-minute visual film of their 2017-2018 live show, minus an audience, and focusing around the mega floating booth. Inspired by space film epics such as 2001: Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of a Third Kind, we caught up with Justice ahead of the release of Iris…
Hi guys. Why is the film called Iris?
We wanted it to sound like a piece of artificial intelligence that welcomes you aboard on ship.
Yes, so we also wanted to have a female name. It’s also a part of the eye, and it’s also the name of a Goddess.
And when did you decide that you wanted to do another film – is it something that has been in the works for a long time?
We have been thinking of making a film like this for 10 years. We’ve been doing the same thing on every show, and we thought how can we do something original? We’ve tried some things, but it didn’t really transport the energy or the production that we’ve had on a live show. So we thought maybe we should film it without an audience, and not in a concert venue. This way you get rid of all your expectations as a viewer. And because there’s no distraction, you can focus fully on the music and on the visual side of it.
What is your definition of a space opera?
It’s a movie that is set in sort of like space environment, so it feels epic.
And what were your inspirations?
We really mined the aesthetic from movies like Blader Runner or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. These are films that look very heavy and are very slow, and are very low-tech, in a way?
What did you want Iris to achieve?
We tried to capture what we liked about the show from the last tour, and the main achievement was to recreate a visual of this show that we are proud of. Finally for the first time in 10 years, we managed it…
Were you emotional when you watched the film back for the first time?
The thing is that we worked so much on the film, because we started when we designed the stage almost like 3 years ago. Then we shot the film and then watched the film back when we were shooting, and then when we saw the final cut in the theatre, it was like 755th time we were watching it. So it was difficult to be like emotional, but still there were moments where we said ‘ah okay, this is great’, and we’d get shivers. Good it can still happen after so many times of seeing it.
How did you decide on production details?
The thing is, we made the stage not for the film but for the live shows. And with our live shows, just as it is with our music I think it’s very important that it changes and evolves all the time. And when we’ve got a live audience we get bored very fast, even when we love to dance, it’s really hard for us to stay focused, so we always make sure that there’s like something different happening every 30 seconds.
For a long time, electronic music has been very defined by continuity. But we like keeping people on their toes.
You have been on the scene for quite a while now, do you guys ever tire of playing your old material?
No, no we don’t have the Radiohead Creep fear. I think one of the reasons that we never did is that our music is kind of laid-back, and we don’t feel angry that some tracks have more famous than others. And when we are doing live shows, the way we play them changes on every chord, it’s kind of fun, like we re-discover them. Like every four or five years we start playing around with them again, and update them.
When you think of the music you first started making when you were starting out, do you feel really disconnected from it?
We still connect a lot with it. Although we’ve changed in the mean time, and although we feel it’s from a different era, there’s aren’t so many tracks that we made like 10 years ago which we feel could be released today. Maybe like two of our tracks feel very timeless, but all the rest feel very much like the time that they were made. And that’s good because it’s nostalgia, like the pleasure when I listen to old records. It just makes me think of a different era, and even though you would make things differently today, we still have an attachment to them, and we love most of them. I don’t think we regret any of our tracks.
You’ve conquered the worlds of music and film now – what’s next for you?
Music is still the main thing for us, and the connection we have together, it just works better with music.
Iris will premiere in UK cinemas on 30 August for one night only at Genesis Cinema in Bethnal Green. Find out more here. Find out more about other countries and scheduling here.