French electronic musician Rone’s cinematic soundscape “Ghosts” receives the video treatment it deserves, as he teams up with a multimedia collective of artists working at the top of their game to deliver an eight-minute short film set to his pulsating rhythms and swirling synth flourishes. Scripted by visionary director Spike Jonze – behind Oscar-winning films like Her and iconic music videos like the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” – and directed by (LA)HORDE, a local contemporary dance collective known for their striking social commentary that renews their partnership with Rone after a live dance show based around his song “Room With A View.”
From inside the Fine Arts Museum of the Palais Longchamp in Marseille, the video was shot in 2020 and shines a light on the isolation of the pandemic. Centring on invisible protagonists, the characters are literally able to dance like nobody’s watching in the expansive space of the abandoned building after hours.
How did you get involved with Spike Jonze? Do you have a favourite of his past works?
Originally it was Chris Cunningham who, after seeing the “Room With A View” video, sent it to his pal Spike Jonze. It inspired him to write the script for “Ghosts.” Spike suggested (LA)HORDE to direct it, and I then composed the original music for the film. Ghosts represents for me the continuity of my collaboration with (LA)HORDE, after the show and the clip, we tried a new form: the short film.
It’s difficult to pick one piece from Jonze’s work, but I would maybe go for “Afterlife,” his amazing video for Arcade Fire with the awesome Greta Gerwig, shot live at the YouTube Music Awards! I can’t get enough of it. And then all his cult videos for Daft Punk, Pharcyde or Björk… He and Michel Gondry are idols for me and I had the chance to work with both of them!
The characters depicted in the video seem to realize they’re invisible, then break out into dance – is there a deeper meaning behind this?
It was mainly an allegory about confinement, this very strange situation that we all experienced, which isolated us by preventing us from going out. The video and the song are really from that period that we have almost forgotten today.
Who have been some of your musical inspirations? What have you been listening to lately?
There are so many… but I think of Miles Davis, Aphex Twin, Eric Satie that I listened to a lot as a teenager. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Sufjan Stevens. It’s very pleasant to listen to on the road, perfect for this American tour.
It’s impressive how many of history’s most prominent figures in electronic music are from your home country. Why do you think France has such a vibrant electronic scene, and what’s special about the music that comes from it?
I honestly don’t know. There were pioneers like Jean-Michel Jarre, then Daft Punk who opened the door to the French touch, of course. But I think the particularity of the French electronic sound comes from even further back, from an old tradition of melody, a bit romantic…
You’ve done a lot of multimedia crossover in the past – literature, film, photography, dance – and the “Ghosts” video is just the latest in the list. Do you have any plans to venture out into new art forms in the future?
I have a few projects, yes. One involves Virtual Reality, the other is more based on sound research, together with IRCAM which is the French Institute in Acoustic and Music Research. I can’t say much about the projects as they are still work in progress…
What does the power of collaboration mean to you? A lot of different artists in different disciplines are coming together to make something here.
It’s always rewarding, especially when it’s an interdisciplinary collaboration: everyone’s personality and talents complement each other to create something unique. I like collective, hybrid works that nevertheless give the feeling of real uniqueness.
What’s next for Rone? Anything else you’d like us to know?
I still have my solo tour going on in Europe, then there will be more shows of the dance piece “Room With A View” with the Ballet national de Marseille, L(oo)pin which is an electro/classical performance with orchestra, some film soundtracks… lots of projects in the pipeline!
Don’t miss your chance to see Rone perform in Toronto on June 18 and in Montreal on June 19. And listen to a remix version of “Ghosts” by UK techno artist Daniel Avery, adding another dimension to the collaborative forces on display.