Grammy Award-winning musical artist Shawn “JAY Z” Carter has collaborated with writer/producer/director Baz Luhrmann on “The Great Gatsby”—in the capacity of Executive Producer—to bring the modern “Jazz Age” energy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original text to the big screen, procuring, performing, producing and arranging for a soundtrack featuring some of the world’s top musical artists.
JAY Z’s contributions, woven amongst a score by long-time Luhrmann collaborator, composer Craig Armstrong, drive Gatsby’s champagne-infused dance floors, rumble in New York’s illegal speakeasies, and foreshadow the tragedy behind Gatsby’s “extraordinary gift for hope.” To articulate the film’s “1920s-Meets-Now” sound, JAY Z also comes to “The Great Gatsby” soundtrack as a performer and contributor of original music.
Luhrmann and JAY Z were introduced by Leonardo DiCaprio (Jay Gatsby), and this led to a two-year collaborative effort. During this time, JAY Z worked with Luhrmann and his team to capture, translate and contrast the feelings of Fitzgerald’s decadent era with that of our own, using hip-hop and jazz, music contemporary and period, to bring two distinct American moments to simultaneous life. They sculpted the film’s musical landscape alongside Armstrong, who worked with the director on “Moulin Rouge!” and “Romeo + Juliet.” The film’s music supervisor is Anton Monsted.
Luhrmann calls the collaboration with JAY Z “a credible and natural fit. Fitzgerald was a pioneer, famed and controversial for using the then-new and explosive sound called jazz in his novels and short stories—not just as decoration, but to actively tell story using the immediacy of pop culture. He coined the phrase ‘the Jazz Age.’
So, the question for me in approaching Gatsby was how to elicit from our audience the same level of excitement and pop-cultural immediacy toward the world that Fitzgerald did for his audience? And in our age, the energy of jazz is caught in the energy of hip-hop. Not only is JAY Z a great artist, full stop, but I had heard that he was a great collaborator. Leonardo and I were lucky enough to be present in a recording session over two years ago as JAY Z was recording ‘No Church in the Wild,’ and the collaboration grew from there.”
JAY Z said, “As soon as I spoke with Baz and Leonardo, I knew this was the right project. The Great Gatsby is that classic American story of one’s introduction to extravagance, decadence and illusion. It’s ripe for experimentation and ready to be interpreted with a modern twist. The imagination Baz brought to ‘Moulin Rouge’ made it a masterpiece, and ‘Romeo + Juliet’s’ score wasn’t just in the background; the music became a character. This film’s vision and direction has all the makings of an epic experience.”
“The Great Gatsby” soundtrack will be released by Interscope Records. (Opening across the Philippines on May 15, “The Great Gatsby” will be distributed in IMAX® 3D, Digital 3D and regular format by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.