Danny Boyle

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Danny Boyle spotlights a few songs he thinks were misused in movies, “wasted genius” as he says, while also highlighting three major music movements that were a part of his life in the UK. He throws in a haunting track by a true indie collective and insists that no playlist is complete without a “disposable pop” song. Boyle recently won a Golden Globe award for his direction of the film Slumdog Millionaire.

For More: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/slumdogmillionaire


1. The Clash - (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
2. Andy Williams - Happy Heart
3. Underworld - Moaner
4. Pulp - Like a Friend
5. godspeed you! black emperor - East Hastings
6. Plastic Bertrand - Ca Plane Pour Moi


CHRIS DOURIDAS: Hi, I am Chris and I am talking to director Danny Boyle. He is best known for his work on the films Slumdog Millionaire, Twenty Eight Days Later, Trainspotting, and others. Danny, welcome to KCRW's Guest DJ Project.

DANNY BOYLE: Thanks Chris, nice to be here.

CHRIS DOURIDAS: Nice to have you with us. Now you must have had some fun putting this together. How did you approach this?

DANNY BOYLE: Oh god yeah, I wanted it obviously to be a hundred. It would be easier if it was a hundred. I don’t mind bad reviews, good reviews, all that kind of stuff. It is the stuff that -- pick your five top songs -- that keeps you awake at night. I did obviously. It is lovely to pick stuff. Some of the stuff is very meaningful. Then, there is one that is meaningless, deliberately.

CHRIS DOURIDAS: Well, first on your list is a classic.

DANNY BOYLE: Yes, it’s my band, really, above all other bands is the Clash, I suppose. I am very fortunate in my life. I am at an age now where-- when I was twenty, punk started in Britain. I was a big punk. It was a big thing for me and for everybody in Britain and the Clash were my band. To my shame, I went and spat on them many times which is is what people did at concerts. Phlegm use to fly out and all the stuff like that. I have done all of that. I am ashamed of that now, obviously. But when he died, when Joe Strummer died, I had never met any of them, but I felt like a part of my life had gone really, in a weird, strange way which I didn’t really understand. And I don’t really understand it now. It is the part that music plays in your life, I think, more than the personality of the people. Although everything I read about him I liked.

When I said to my daughters, there are two of them now, and they are really into music and they know much more about contemporary music than I do. I said to them that I was doing your program and I said, ‘What should I put on it? My five favorite songs.’ They both said straight away -- it has to start with White Man in Hammersmith Palais.

SONG: The Clash - (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais

CHRIS DOURIDAS: You mention that you had a love of the punk movement. You were part of that. You were there for the whole roll out of that amazing time in music history. How far back does your love of music go? Were you playing music as a kid?

DANNY BOYLE: My dad bought all the Beatles singles, the first copies-- he bought them for me. When they first started coming out, I must have been about seven or eight years old. I was never that big a fan of the Beatles. In my early years, it was Led Zeppelin and David Bowie – they were kind of like the stuff that I really loved. But I also loved all sorts of music. I remember that the first film I made ends with an Andy William's track, “Happy Heart.” I got that off my dad because he was a big Andy Williams fan. I remember hearing it and thinking that we should use that at the end of “Shallow Grave.” We did and it kind of gives a big lift to the film at the end of the film. I take music from everywhere. There should be no regulators or taste barriers in music. It should just be whatever is out there and whatever touches you in some way.

Song: Andy William’s “Happy Heart”

CHRIS DOURIDAS: There is a band up next that you worked with over the years. You have had them in your film projects. Long love of these guys.

DANNY BOYLE: They represent a lot for me, the Underworld. I have worked with them a number of times and we famously used one of their ignored songs “Born Slippy” in Trainspotting. It became a huge thing around the world for them. It lifted their status. It helped our film.

When I met the guys-- Rick and Carl-- they are a wonderful couple of guys. I have worked with them on multiple projects. But the song that I have picked from is a song that they wrote for a Batman film, not the “Dark Knight,” one of the films that preceded the “Dark Knight.” When you go and watch that film, there is about fifteen seconds that you can barely hear of this song, which is a nine-minute cacophony song. I put it on there because it is an example how films can waste genius, really. It also belongs to the other great movement that I became part of in Britain. I was just about young enough to still play a meaningful part of it. I was in my mid-thirties when House music took off in Britain. For me, to have been privileged to have been a part of two huge movements of music like that is a really important part of my life. This song represents the more extreme side of house music.

Song: Underworld’s Moaner

CHRIS DOURIDAS: That's called “Moaner,” it’s from Underworld. It is part of Danny Boyle’s list. It is the KCRW Guest DJ Project here on KCRW. I am Chris Douridas, Danny Boyle is with us. This next guy has a touch of the melodrama to him, doesn’t he, Jarvis Crocker.

DANNY BOYLE: Well, Pulp were of course part of Brit pop which was, I suppose, another, less specific and I think less important movement as a movement. But it was a wonderful time in Britain to see this explosion of songwriting and I picked Pulp as a representative of that. There were a lot of guys around -- Oasis, Blur, Sleeper -- all sorts of bands around that time.

I picked this one because, again, this ended up in a film and it was kind of wasted in a film. A wonderful filmmaker, Alfonso Cuarón. But they wrote this for a film. They also wrote a song for Trainspotting and I asked them to write another song for a film that we did later, “Life Less Ordinary” but they said no, that they were going to write for Alfonso Cuarón instead. (laughing) and they wrote this song. So just to show there are no hard feelings, I picked it because it is a wonderful song and I do love this style of songwriting and song performing.

DOURADIAS: Here it is. Pulp, “Like a Friend.”

SONG: Pulp’s Like a Friend

DOURADIAS: The next band we have is a tough one. I don't know how to describe them really, right?

DANNY BOYLE: I know this is a tough one. This is the only one I’ve picked that is in a film of mine. It is actually at the beginning of “28 Days Later” but it’s not on the soundtrack because they are a political group and they will not allow their songs to be used on soundtracks. In fact, I went to meet them in Newcastle-- they were on tour in Newcastle in the Northeast of England-- to persuade them to let us use this track in the film. They were such lovely guys. I think that they liked me, and saw I was genuine. So they agreed reluctantly to let us use it in the film. But they never allow it on any soundtracks and they’re not on iTunes or anything like that. They are the real definition of an indie collective. They are really wonderful guys. I love their music, across a lot of their albums they have done.

But this is an extraordinary song called East of Hastings. We used it for the beginning sequence of “28 Days Later” when Cillian Murphy walks around deserted London on his own. I remember when we first put the piece of music to that opening-- it was before we shot any of the rest of the film. I’m usually very modest about what I’ve done, but I remember seeing that thinking 'that is good. I would go and watch that.’ This track is an extraordinary, wonderful track.

CHRIS DOURIDAS: Ok, here we go. God Speed You Black Emperor, East of Hastings is the track.

SONG: Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s East of Hastings

CHRIS DOURIDAS: You got to explain this last one here. You tossed one in on us.

DANNY BOYLE: When you talk about pop music, as soon as you start talking about it, you start taking it too seriously. It has got to be disposable. Who knows whether it is ultimately disposable. This song is actually from 1977 so it clearly isn't disposable. But it is written as disposable. It is the ultimate disposable pop song really, it is gibberish -- and I love that about it. It could have been all sorts of different things. It could have been Erasure, Donald Lewis, Tiffany, a-ha, Girls Aloud -- any kind of disposable pop should always have a place in a playlist. Here is Plastic Bertrand.

CHRIS DOURIDAS: Just so people can sort out the gibberish a bit, the title actually translates to “this works for me.”

DANNY BOYLE: (laughing) No more needs to be said really.

SONG: Plastic Bertrand’s- Ca Plane Pour Moi

  CHRIS DOURIDAS: This works for us. Thanks so much Danny.

DANNY BOYLE: Thanks Chris.

CHRIS DOURIDAS: It is KCRW's Guest DJ Project. I am Chris Douridas. Thanks so much for listening.