A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when electronic music wasn’t just about BPMs and bass drops, the sci-fi concept album was an actual thing.
From Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon to Radiohead’s Ok Computer to Daft Punk’s Discovery, the merging of technology and music go hand-in-keypad in the Digital Age.
Ferry Corsten has done it all, earning top DJ awards, headlining festivals and earning his spot among the all-time greats with a career approaching two decades. Now, Corsten is boldly going where no DJ/producer has gone before (well, at least not for awhile), with his own sci-fi concept album.
Blueprint (out today) is by far the most ambitious project from the Dutch trance artist. Developed with screenwriter David Harrington Miller (House of Cards, Rosewood), Blueprint is full of big ideas that are only matched by its big heart.
One the eve of Blueprint’s release, I chatted with Corsten and Miller about their serendipitous collaboration, sci-fi concept albums, and the future (of course).
How did a Hollywood screenwriter and Dutch DJ come to collaborate?
David Harrington Miller: I’ve been a fan of Ferry since System F, but our collaboration was 100% serendipity. His manager, Brandon Ginsberg, was an old friend of mine, but we hadn’t seen each other in a few years. One night in late 2015, I ran into him at a restaurant in Los Angeles. He mentioned during our conversation that his client, Ferry Corsten, wanted to work on a sci-fi concept album in the vein of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds and I jumped at the opportunity.
So David was a fan of your music Ferry, did you know of each his screenwriting work?
Ferry Corsten: I am a big fan of House Of Cards, but I wasn’t aware that David was involved till later, which made me appreciate his talent even more.
Was there a moment during the initial meetings that you knew the collaboration would work?
David Harrington Miller: As soon as Ferry mentioned his vision for the album – a trance album with a sweeping sci-fi story at its core: a combination of music, narration, and dialogue – I was on board. I’ve always been a fan of epic science fiction from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series to Daft Punk’s Interstella 5555, big visions anchored by strong storytelling, and what Ferry wanted to do certainly had all of that. It was a big swing, and I think the best art always comes from swinging for the fences.
Ferry Corsten: Yes, it felt very open, honest and relaxed from the first second, so I was very positive from the beginning.
What was the process like?
Ferry Corsten: David drafted up an initial story which he sent to me to shoot at and change where needed. But the story was pretty much great the way it was already. He wrote it up to 70% in terms of details etc. Enough for me to create the music, sit down with songwriters and come up with the audio landscape. I then went back to David with all the song lyrics for him to ‘revise’ the story around the lyrics and make the whole think work as one piece.
David Harrington Miller: The process was as smooth and complimentary as any project I’ve worked on. At every step, Ferry and I would freely exchange ideas and pivot when needed. I think it was such an easy collaboration because we both had not only a shared vision for the album, but a shared sense of what we wanted to say.
“Blueprint” follows in the footsteps of some great sci-fi concept albums Daft Punk’s Discovery, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Radiohead’s OK Computer. What are your favorites that have influenced and made an impression on you?
Ferry Corsten: I love Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It was and actually still is so far ahead of its time. I recently saw the documentary, The Making Of Dark Side of the Moon, and I was blown away by the ingenuity of that album. The sounds they wanted to create were so out of this world in a time when technology wasn’t able to do it for them.
David Harrington Miller: I was lucky enough to film a music video for Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 tour, after they reached out to fans on Myspace, so Daft Punk’s entire oeuvre will pretty much always be in my Top 10. But Discovery has a special place in my heart, because it came out while I was in high school. I must have listened to “Digital Love” 1,000 times on repeat. But, the album that really took over my mind as a teen was Electric Light Orchestra’s Time. Jeff Lynne’s gotta be one of the most underrated musicians of all time, and Time transported young me to 2095 every time I popped in that CD.
The best sci-fi stories tell us about ourselves and the future. What is Blueprint’s message?
David Harrington Miller: The obvious metaphor for Blueprint, a boy falls in love with the robot he created, is that it’s a commentary on the narcissism that modern technology elicits within ourselves (ex. selfies, Snapchat, YouTube vloggers, etc.). But there’s a deeper level to the story that without spoiling the ending, infers we might be technology created by another lifeform. So what I hope people take away from Blueprint is that love of any kind, be it love of yourself or love of an alien robot, is good because it’s what makes us real, and what makes us human; it gives us purpose. As for the future, I think Blueprint tells us not to fear what’s over the horizon, because while we certainly can’t predict the future, especially with regards to technology, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a scary place.
This album was built like a Hollywood production. Hiring a screenwriter to formulate a story. Enlisting actor Campbell Scott to narrate. Making storyboards. Creating a soundtrack. If Blueprint was a movie who would star and direct?
David Harrington Miller: Well, we’ve already been developing Blueprint as a TV series, so there’s hope we will one day see the story told with actors and the like. As far as a movie goes, I’d want it to be as fun and eye-popping as possible, so Luc Besson immediately comes to mind. “The Fifth Element” is one of my all-time favorite movies, and Besson’s unique visual aesthetic I think would pair well with the album’s sensibilities. As for actors playing Lukas and Vee, I think Tom Holland and Zendaya would be perfect, plus they’ve already worked together on the new Spider-Man movie.
Ferry Corsten: Directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Andrew Garfield as Lukas & Jennifer Lawrence as Vee would be a great look… I think.
The official Blueprint Album Tour will touch down at the Exchange in Los Angeles tonight. For Ferry Corsten tickets and more tour information go HERE.