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His passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of a variety of music made for some interesting choices. Find out why music is his drug of choice, his soundtrack to crafting a lead character in a dark satire, the lengths he will go to track down a song that gets his attention, and how lo-fi music is the new punk.
1. Steve Winwood-"I'm a Man", The Best of Steve Winwood (Island)
2. Yo La Tengo-"You Can Have it All", Juno B-Sides: Almost Adopted Songs (Rhino)
3. Moldy Peaches-"Anyone Else But You", Juno - Music From The Motion Picture (Rhino)
4. Noel Zancanella-"Lovely", Stereo: A Fantasy for Electromagnetic Tape (Sonom Records)
5. Penguin Cafe Orchestra-"Telephone Rubber Band" Penguin Cafe Orchestra (Astralwerks)
6. RJD2-"Good Times Roll pt. 1 [Explicit]" The Horror (Def Jux)
Jason Bentley: I'm Jason Bentley, DJ at KCRW and KCRW.com. Music is an inspiration, and it's not just for DJs like me, it can inspire the creative process in many ways. I'm here with the director of the films "Juno" and "Thank You for Smoking," Jason Reitman, and his laptop. Jason, I'm curious, for you, is it just something that's an atmospheric thing that's in the background while you work and for a moment or two you'll notice and then you'll go back to work, but what is the connection to the music while you do your craft?
Jason Reitman: It's really important. It’s kind of what gets me in the mood. I think if I had lived in the 60s and 70s, I would have probably just done a lot of drugs, but I don't do any drugs, so I require music to get there. When I was actually writing "Thank You for Smoking"…..I’ll show you this song I used to listen to. I would actually listen to this every time I would get ready to write "Thank You for Smoking."
I would listen to this track: Steve Winwood's "I'm a Man."
Song, Steve Winwood - I'm a Man
Jason Reitman: I wrote th movie listening to this song, often times in loop, and I always assumed that the song would get into the movie, but the song didn't get into the movie. By the time I made the movie, it would have been too on-the-nose. It was the attitude that was underlying the main character, but it was actually unnecessary because, tonally, the movie was already doing that without the song.
Jason Bentley: Music is magic that way, and I want to talk a little bit about "Juno," and especially the soundtrack and the process of placing of these songs. Did you have ideas in place as you were writing or in working in the earliest stages of the film or did it come after film was being cut or in post-production?
Jason Reitman: Well, it's interesting, as written Juno's character was in love with hair-metal and, on the page, that was ironic and funny, but it didn't make sense. It wasn't real enough for me at the end of the day. It was Mark's character that was always into grunge, and I wanted something more real for Juno, and at one point I suggested, couldn't Juno be into punk music? But punk music wasn't going to work well as a soundtrack for the film because the soundtrack need to be sweeter. And what we started to realize was that there was this rebirth of lo-fi music that had the same energy as punk music, but was nowhere as angry. The first band, a band that I discovered on KCRW, was a band called Yo La Tengo and so I started to think that was the sound of the film. Particularly, there was one song that they did, "You Can Have It All"
Jason Bentley: Yo La Tengo
Song, Yo La Tengo - "You Can Have It All"
Jason Reitman: I originally thought that song was going to be the opening title sequence, and I would listen to it over and over, and I actually went to my opening sequence guys and asked, "How was this going to work?" and actually, the first time the sequence was presented to me, it was to that song, and we started to feel out other artists like Belle and Sebastian, trying to find groups where a boy and a girl were often singing to each other, and then one day Ellen Page was in my office, and I said, "Who do you think Juno would listen to?" and she said, "The Moldy Peaches," and I had never heard of them, and she jumped on my computer and downloaded, "Anyone Else But You."
Song, The Moldy Peaches - "Anyone But You"
Jason Reitman: And that became… We decided to close the movie with that with the boy and the girl singing to each other, which worked a lot better than them singing an 80s hair metal song to each other. And I got a hold of Kimya Dawson, the singer in the Moldy Peaches, and said, "Do you have anything else," and she said, "Oh, yeah," and she sent me six solo albums with like 120 songs, and it was like opening up an envelope and finding your soundtrack.
Jason Bentley: Now, this first artist you mentioned was a real obscurity. You had to seek this guy out and send him a postage-paid envelope and really get him to send you the song, right?
Jason Reitman: This was one of the hardest ones to find. His name is Noel Zancanella, and you had played this track called "Lovely," which WAS lovely, and similar to what I just explained, I fell in love with it, and it comes in kind of simple…
Fade into song, Noel Zancanella - Lovely
Jason Reitman:. … and all of a sudden, there's horns, and it's a really sophisticated sound actually, and when I actually received this track, none of the other sounds were this sophisticated, and I'm presuming that this is one of those times where he was just channeling, where all of sudden, you just… it turned out great, and you have no idea how. That's what I assume, and getting a hold of this guy was very tough. I think I ended up Googling his name and finding his website, and there were instructions on his website about sending him a self-addressed envelope with $15 and you'll get a CD, and it was probably my most exciting, interactive experience with KCRW where I had truly found something that I never ever would have found. I would have never stumbled upon it at a listening station at Tower Records or found it while surfing iTunes. It simply would otherwise not have existed.
Jason Bentley: We're here with director Jason Reitman, and we're talking about music that has inspired him; we're talking about his process in music, editing, directing, and producing. Tell us your choice number two.
Jason Reitman: This is an old track, but I believe you played it, … Well, you must have played it more recently than this because it was released in 1981, but I did hear it on your show, and it's called "Telephone Rubber Band" by Penguin Café Orchestra.
Song, Penguin Café Orchestra - Telephone Rubber Band
Jason Bentley: Take us out with one more, another favorite perhaps.
Jason Reitman: This one is an RJD2 Track, if that's all right.
Jason Bentley: Nice.
Jason Reitman: Okay, it's called "Good Times Roll" by RJD2.
Song, RJD2 - Good Times Roll
Jason Reitman: I think you've played this track before.
Jason Bentley: Yeah. Thank you for coming down and thanks for listening. It sounds like you've been in the L.A. area and a listener for a while.
Jason Reitman: I grew up in Los Angeles, and nothing closes a night better than driving home and listening to you.
Jason Bentley: Thank you so much. Jason Reitman, thanks for coming down.
Jason Reitman: Thank you.
Neither tapes nor transcripts of KCRW music programs are available.