You Know Films and Atlantic Films to release new music documentary interviewing music giants Pharrell, Questlove, and Phil Collins, among others, about the iconic drum machine the Roland TR-808 and it’s impact on the music industry.
Music documentary 808, directed by Alexander Dunn and produced by Alex Noyer, features interviews with major musicians and their experiences with the iconic drum machine, the Roland TR-808. Written by Dunn and Luke Bainbridge, 808 tells the story of how the machine entered the music scene in 1980, and still remains relevant three decades later, despite its discontinuation in 1983.
The 808’s beginnings were found by Dunn and Noyer to be with the DJ Arthur Baker’s produced Afrika Bombaataa “Planet Rock,” which was the first globally successful song with the 808 machine. In a recent press release from the film producers, they spoke of the machines impact.
“The 808 fueled an age of explosive artistic creation that began with electro, hip-hop, and synthpop but soon erupted into such diverse forms as acid house, techno, drum & bass, and dubstep.”
The trailer features snippets of interviews with music talents such as Pharrell Williams, Afrika Bambaataa, Damon Albarn, David Guetta, Phil Collins, Diplo, New Order, and Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim), and producers including Rick Rubin, Jellybean Benitez, Hank Shocklee, and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and Questlove who exclaims his intital reaction to the 808 in the trailer, “It’s the futuristic thing I ever heard. A drum inside of a machine!”
A soundtrack is set to be released by Big Beats/Atlantic Records that features tracks made by and inspired by the 808 machine.
The filmmakers spent three years traveling the world, talking with superstar musicians, and piecing together the story of the drum machine. In a recent press release, director Dunn said about making the film,
“808 has really been a journey of discovery for me. One that led myself and the team to meet over 50 musicians and artists from all around the world, hearing their personal stories about the 808 and the music they created using its iconic sounds. Those artists and musicians are the real protagonists of the film.”
The central question of the film is, “Why was the 808 discontinued so quickly, even as it was turning up on more hit records than any other drum machine?” The filmmakers traveled to Japan to talk with Roland founder Ikutaro “Mr. K” Kakehashi and to find out the answer.
In searching for the answer to that question, the filmmakers gained more than just an answer to tell fans. Producer DJ Arthur Baker said,
“The making of 808 was a very personal journey for me: being able to reconnect and interview (along with Luke Bainbridge) many of my old DJ/producer friends, while helping get the godfathers of the early scene some overdue acknowledgement… I felt very priveledged to had this opportunity.”