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[Interview] Zac Efron, Max Joseph, Emily Ratajkowski, Them Jeans (We Are Your Friends)

We Are Your Friends Interview: Part 2

and perfect, not just show it debauched.

I knew that Them Jeans was involved, and I think I read somewhere that Alesso might have done a little bit with the film. The Dillon Francis cameo, I thought, was really funny. What kind of feedback have you gotten from the community?

MJ: I’ll speak on it for a second, then I’ll throw it over to Jason. I think there was a lot of fear and trepidation about this movie from the community. Certainly when the trailers came out, I think people felt like this was Hollywood trying to co-op the dance music culture and sell it out and water it down. What I see happening, what I hope is happening – of course, it’s hard for me to tell because I’m the director, so not everyone is always up front with me about it – but when people see the movie, especially from the scene, it’s not quite what they expect, and I feel like they’re surprised by it. I think Jason can speak more to it.

TJ: The DJ friends of mine who have seen it have all been pleasantly surprised based on what they’ve seen in the trailer and myself included. It’s a very feel good movie, and all the DJ elements are very specific, and I think they’re all nailed correctly. Everyone that I know that’s seen it walked out with a stamp of approval.

MJ: Even musicians who worked on the movie were a little scared, you know, [like] “What could this be?” I think everyone who sees it…

TJ: I was never scared, but I could see how they could be scared.

What was it about electronic music or EDM that kind of inspired you to write this? And to you guys, Emily and Zac, what attracted you guys to the script?

MJ: I think the answers to those questions are probably the same, which is that… I’ll let these guys answer that.

ZE: Initially, what attracted me to the story was the sizzle reel. It was called The Untitled DJ Project. There’s so many different electronic music stories and scripts floating around, but nobody had nailed it yet. I think what Max did in the sizzle reel and, more importantly, in the script through execution was to make a really great coming of age story, which is just a classic… It’s just something I’d want to see. Even cooler than that, I could relate to it on a very specific level: I was interested in it, I enjoy EDM music, I lived in the [San Fernando] Valley for four years and had very similar friends to this – still have those friends -. I felt like if Max and I met in the middle, and he knew as much as he did in the world, I knew enough specifics, and if we could bring our strengths together in the mix, it would be great. I thought that was a great idea. It seemed fun.

ER: I think the important thing about this movie, because we’ve talked so much about there  that many EDM movies, it is something important to remind – you guys, I think, just came from the film – that the EDM scene is really a backdrop for this coming of age story. It’s really appropriate, because [of what] disco was for Saturday Night Fever where you have this specific moment in time, this specific place that sort of allowed people to see these really big archetypes and ideas play out. Because it was so specific, it almost communicates better, which is a funny thing about storytelling and art. That’s what we wanted to do with We Are Your Friends, which is what I liked about it. I think it is about the millennial, post-recession generation dealing with technology, and EDM is the perfect art form that has come out of that world. I liked [her character] Sophie because she doesn’t really know what she wants, and by the end she still doesn’t know what she wants, which is I think is cool because it’s not realistic for all these movies to have characters with these “A-ha!” moments. You see a lot that in the world, people are trying to make the right steps to become adults and the people they want to be. I like that you see her shed and sacrifice things that were making her feel comfortable to just even hopefully take one step in the right direction.

How’s your view of the scene changed since making the movie? Has it changed at all, do you respect it more, or just look at it differently?

ZE: I’ve been working a lot since the film, so I haven’t…

MJ: Zac left the scene.

*everybody laughs*

ZE: I have a lot more respect for it now.

EM: Oh my god. [in response to loud bass from The Mid’s performers]

ZE: I think the speakers have slowly been bumping over the room.

MJ: I think the scene has really… I felt this from afar, then it was validated by my experience, but it’s very community-driven, and it’s very supportive. In order to shoot that last scene in the movie, we threw our own block party, and the audience that showed up there, they showed up for free and they showed up to see Nicky Romero and all these guys performing, and we surprised them by bringing Zac up. They totally played along. Even now, they’re so proud of having been part of the movie. I think that that spirit of friendship and friends and coming together at festivals and stuff is amazing. It has existed in other music movements before, but there’s obviously something more relevant now about getting together now in big groups and being positive and supportive.

 

Geoff Henao is a writer/kinda photographer affiliated with the Chicago collective LOD. His interests include film, punk rock, cute girls, graphic novels, video games, and the Chicago Bulls. He’s funny sometimes.

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