When Daft Punk, nee Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo, were making the press rounds for their brilliant new album Random Access Memories, they spoke frequently about the huge influence of Brian De Palma's "Phantom of the Paradise," both on their masked aesthetic and their music. This was particularly noteworthy because they used 'Phantom' composer and costar Paul Williams for two tracks, including one where his vocals eerily recall his work on the movie. The French robots made a passing reference to meeting with De Palma in a Pitchfork interview, which was then debunked. We spoke to De Palma this week, whose gonzo "Passion" hits theaters next month, and asked him to sort this whole thing out.
"I don't know where this rumor got started. Let's try to put an end to it here and now," De Palma said, with some gruff authority. He then laid it out for us: "Daft Punk expressed an interest in doing something with 'Phantom of the Paradise' and when I was in Paris I met with them and we discussed it. They were in the process of finishing up their record."
In other words, they never spoke about the video for "Touch," the epic, emotionally devastating track that features Williams' vocals and songwriting. "It was never discussed, me doing a video for them," De Palma confirmed. "They expressed their excitement for 'Phantom of the Paradise' and somehow, if we have a stage version, they might consider doing music for it. But that was as far as it went. It was very tentative, very initial discussions."
When we pressed on about whether or not a "Phantom of the Paradise" play was actually in the works, the director seemed to think that one was always in the works (thought hasn't really gotten very far). Still, with Daft Punk interested in contributing original music alongside Williams, that would have a way of generating a teeny bit of interest, we'd imagine. "They've tried to do a stage production for 30 years. Every once in a while there's a lot of excitement about it and then it fades away. It always seems like a good idea to me," De Palma said.
So while a video is off the table, which is kind of sad, it seems like a collaboration between the robots and De Palma could still be in the cards. And that is very, very exciting, on a purely speculative level.
"Passion" is out August 20th in theaters and August 1st on iTunes and VOD. Random Access Memories is out now.