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Chris Weitz credits his older brother, fellow filmmaker Paul Weitz, with influencing his early music tastes - as well as a stint in boarding school abroad that introduced him to his first “musical god.” In his Guest DJ set, he also highlights a Grizzly Bear song written specifically for his last directorial effort, “Twilight: New Moon,” as well as a classic track by Jeff Buckley chosen for optimal emotional impact. “Twilight: New Moon” is now out on DVD.
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RC: Hey it’s Raul Campos here from KCRW, and I’m here with filmmaker Chris Weitz. He directed the second installment of the “Twilight” series, “New Moon,” which is now out on DVD, and was behind the box office smash “American Pie” and Oscar-nominated film “About a Boy.” We’re going to be playing excerpts of songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Hey Chris, how are you?
CW: Thank you very much, I’m doing very well
RC: What’d you bring in for us today?
CW: Well, the first one is “See Emily Play” by Pink Floyd. This one is about hearing a song through the wall that divided my room and my brother’s. Because I had a brother that was four years old, and was cool, and who had great taste in music -- when I was around 13 he was around 17 -- there was always cool stuff that I was kind of indoctrinated into.
Song: Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play”
CW: This is a song I love, but it’s also a song that reminds me how much my brother influenced my musical tastes when I was little, and how great it is to have somebody to guide you into the world of music. We both dropped out of the intense music-listening phase of our lives, which seems to hit sometime around late teens. And the older I get, the less in touch I get, which is actually why I listen to KCRW. KCRW is kind of like my older brother now, because he’s not too cool anymore.
RC: Music from Pink Floyd right here on KCRW. Chris White is our Guest DJ selecting the tunes. And we’re going to get into a Bob Marley tune.
CW: We are, and there’s something kind of predictable about a white boy choosing a Bob Marley tune. Because it’s like, ‘Yah man. Irie’
We’re kind of going through my life here – this is a kind of ‘this is your life’ - and when I left for school in England, I was about 15, and of course I was in London where reggae was everywhere. And I was in boarding school, and the kid three beds down from me, George Rackstraw -- if anyone is paler than me, it’s probably him --was a devotee of Bob Marley and he let me copy his records. And then I listened to them over and over and over again, I just wore them out on one of the first walkmen of the period. “Coming in from the Cold” will always remind me of that time when you discover someone who is just a musical god and it changes your whole outlook on life.
Song: Bob Marley’s “Coming in From the Cold”
CW: For a while there, for about a year and a half, I would really only listen to reggae. You know, I’d be this 15-year-old kid going to reggae clubs in London, actually even getting to see some of the bands I really loved. Like, the Gladiators were also my favorite band that was working at the time, and I was able to see them live at these little clubs. Everyone wondered what the hell I was doing there, but I just loved the music, and it was grand.
RC: Bob Marley and the Wailers right here at KCRW.com and our Guest DJ is Chris Weitz. “Coming in from the Cold.” And we’re going to get into our next tune from Jeff Buckley, what’s this one?
CW: This next one is “Last Goodbye.” And here’s a guy where I was tempted to choose one of his more obscure ones, because that would make me seem cooler, and this is one of his more mainstream songs, but I think it’s emotional impact is so insane. At least I’m not choosing “Hallelujah,” which is like playing at Starbucks right now.
You know, there is this thing in one’s music-listening life of somebody’s music you love, and they pass away in an untimely fashion, as rock artists seem to have a talent for doing. I still get to enjoy his music, and it’s kind of devastating that he’s not around.
Song: Jeff Buckley’s “Last Goodbye”
CW: And weirdly, I can remember seeing him at a little club on Great Jones Street. And it was the strangest thing – there was this guy, this skinny guy, playing and he was very kind of gracious and apologetic. And people were talking while he was playing, and he was playing these amazing tracks, and nobody really knew that it was Jeff Buckley, and they ought to have. And then later my friends and I had a blowout New Year’s Eve party and Jeff Buckley was there, which is kinda one of the…which aside from touching the hands of the Dali Lama, kinda one of my closest brushes with greatness.
RC: That was “Last Goodbye” by Jeff Buckley here on KCRW.com. Our Guest DJ Project is in effect, Chris Weitz in the house. This next song we’re going to hear, what is it?
CW: This next song is called “Slow Life,” and it’s by Grizzly Bear with Victoria Legrand. It’s slightly self-plugging because it’s on the soundtrack of the last movie that I directed. But really, for me, it symbolizes my reentry into the world of listening to and caring about music a lot. I had a decade of mostly listening to Glenn Gould play Bach, and my life slowing down, and suddenly I had to get up to speed again about what was out there. In order to do the soundtrack for the film, I really had to bring up my game. I wanted it to be a really good, melancholy, alt soundtrack, and one that drew upon the talents of people that you wouldn’t normally associate themselves with chick-falling-in-love-with-vampire kind of movies.
Song: Grizzly Bear’s “Slow Life”
CW: Amongst other bands, Grizzly Bear was willing to write something for us, which was astonishing. It is a song that was only for us, basically. It hadn’t been heard before. And another thing about it -- and why I wanted to play it here -- is because it only occurs very briefly in the film. You hear a few strains of it, but the entire song, as a whole, you don’t hear it in the film and it’s really, really gorgeous.
RC: Grizzly Bear with Victoria Legrand here on KCRW.com. Our Guest DJ Project with Mr. Chris Weitz. So we’re going to get into a tune by Manu Chao. Why Manu Chao?
CW: I think he kind of embodies this world of amazing potential now, where something isn’t exactly world music, it’s alternative, I guess you’d call it. And it is samples, and it’s got acoustic, and it’s sung in multiple languages. And, you know, it’s got this great sample - this kind of pinging sound - without which maybe the song wouldn’t work at all, I don’t know. I think that’s the most valuable ping in music history.
Song: Manu Chao’s “Mr. Bobby”
CW: I find that a lot of music that I’ve loved, I only want to hear in recorded form. And I think that makes me a bad person, because I never know quite what to do at live gigs. Like how I’m supposed to move, or anything.
RC: I don’t even know how to move at a Manu Chao show. I just like sit back and watch the crowd go crazy. “Mr.Bobby” by Manu Chao, just a great selection of tunes. Mr. Chris Weitz has been selecting our songs for our Guest DJ Project. Thanks so much for coming in and sharing these tunes.
CW: Thank you, and coming from you that is a great compliment.
RC: For complete track listing and to find these songs online, go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject.