Gorillaz-Unofficial (gorillaz_news) wrote,

Monkey documentary (interviews with Damon and Jamie, includes some Gorillaz mentions)

Last week a documentary on Gorillaz co-creators Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn's latest project the Chinese opera 'Monkey' was screened on UK television. It features an in-depth look at all aspects of the making of the production and extensive interview footage with the pair, including their thoughts on Gorillaz. Watch on YouTube via the links below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7.

Part 8

Also if you click 'Read More' below you can read an article from Manchester's City Life newspaper about the show, which sees Jamie state: "This is the next Gorillaz project".

City Life - Manchester International Festival supplement

Not Just Monkeying Around

Damon Albarn gets serious as his latest collaborative project, opening the Manchester International Festival, takes Gorillaz to an operatic level, writes Kevin Bourke

One word you can hear a lot around the production of Monkey : Journey TO The West is "ambitious".

It's not an unreasonable description of the show set to open this year's first-ever Manchester International Festival. BAsed on a centuries-old Chinese epic, it's adapted and directed by Chinese Opera, theatre and film director Chen Shi-Zheng and features music composed by Damon Albarn, with visual concept and design by his Gorillaz buddy Jamie Hewlett.

Oh, and the cast includes doznes of acrobats, contortionists, aerialists and martial artists, all of whom have to be able to sing as well, on a set so dazzlingly elaborate that it's had to be constructed in several different countries. Meanwhile the musicians have been rehearsing in one country, the performers in another and the various prosthetics and costimes elsewhere. Finally, it's all coming together at the Palace Theatre this week.

"This has all been a bit outside our comfort zone, but that was the point really," laughs Hewlett, as a huge Buddha suddenly appears in view at the back of the Palace stage, prompting audible gasps from the 'seen-it-all-before' crew busily setting things up.

"People say I'm laid-back just because I don't get panicked," acknowledges Chen Shi-Zheng. "I strive for chaos, some people say because that's when I feel like I'm in my comfort zone. But after all it's all there in front of an audience, I usually get to go off and hide somewhere for a while."

Hang on a minute, though. So Damon Albarn is composing music for a "proper opera", is he? That's a long way from Blur, Gorillaz or The Good, The Bad And The Queen.

"This is composition, not songwriting," Damon points out. "Of course, I was aprehensive at first. But people who come from my normal discipline don't tend to go far enough. We want to bring more flavour to people's lives. And demystify opera to a degree, destroy its elitist angle. Then for people who do like opera, open them up to new forms of music, too. We want to bring a big cornerstone of Chinese culture and present it to the West. If we can do that, then we've succeeded."

Festival director Alex Poots adds: "The Festival brought Gorillaz to the table when we were first in discussions with our lead co-producer Jean Luc Choplin at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, and Jean Luc had been working with Chen Shi-Zheng. But Damon was free to work in whatever form he thought best and it was he who decided it had to be opera."

"This is the next Gorillaz project," offers Jamie, "And this is what we do. We have to up the stakes every time. Opera is just a term for drama in theatre that's led entirely by music.

"People can be scared of operas, especially when they're in Mandarin. People will be astounded by this show, but they have to take that leap of faith. Of course, it's been worrying but it's exhilirating too because that's where the excitement is, the challenge.

"This has dominated our lives for months and months, ever since we got that first call from Alex. At first, we really didn't know whether we could do it at all, so we said 'Let us go to China with Chen Shi-Zheng and we'll see how that goes.' We thought that if we didn't fancy doing it at least we'd have had time in China!"

From his point of view, says Shi-Zheng, " I was looking for someone young and smart to work with. I didn't want to give Damon or Jamie too specific a brief because what was important in this project was that it was their sensibility we wanted. Waht Damon and I did agree on straightaway was that we didn't want pastiche Chinese music and on the last trip we made he found something he could latch on to."

Jamie admits: "I didn't think it would this much work! But now we have what's probably the most exciting thing I've ever worked on. It's the sort of show that was always going to be fraught with danger and that gives it this really full-on feeling of non-stop, in-your-face entertainment. You won't have the opportunity to get bored, I'll tell you that."

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July 9 2007, 14:13:33 UTC 11 years ago

I'll say it and i'll say it again, come back to England!!!

in Croydon!

Deleted comment

I needs to makes some game related art one of these days (it's been to long. . . ) Re: Your Latest Purchase Post by rorschach on Nov pm MP Damn cool.
I want to see this on DVD real soon! Seeing all those drawings is like seeing hundreds of different possible styles for Noodle in the future.

I'm so stoked about this.


July 10 2007, 00:25:26 UTC 11 years ago

"This is the next Gorillaz Project?" What about the movie?
it's coming, it's coming... don't have a meltdown. :)



11 years ago


10 years ago

Have fun! Damn,why do I live in germany?here goes nothing...



11 years ago


10 years ago

nice :D seriously I like it!


July 11 2007, 07:45:03 UTC 11 years ago

Like I said before, this opera is not really Gorillaz related. To love Gorillaz so much that in the wait for their next act like a new album or that movie you start to become obsessed with their colaborators as well is pure madness. When you go this far it can not even be considered related to Gorillaz anymore.


July 11 2007, 20:00:05 UTC 11 years ago

we don't care



11 years ago

i was staying at the palace hotel.

on july 6th after i saw the show, i went back to the hotel restaurant and guess who was there-


i shook his hand and said he was my hero. i told him all i wanted was a handshake rather than a signing or anything. he looks at me and says "aww" and then gives me a big hug.

!!!!! i think i had a heart attack.

so then i got kicked out of that dinning area, special personnel only.

omg. incredible.
u met damon albarn ?


11 years ago

I'm a Country Bitch!
that's the spirit!

Re: know who I am?


11 years ago

Alright I know that this has nothing to do with the topic but this really freaked me out. I checked the virginradio.co.uk/music/artists/gorillaz/news/ site and I stumbled across this "Damon Albarn: 'no more Gorillaz albums'
Damon Albarn has confirmed that Gorillaz will release no more studio albums. The Blur singer said that the only project left for the cartoon band will be a film featuring a score composition..." that's not the entire article but it's got be fucking pissed I mean who gives a toss about what Albarn has to say the Gorillaz albums totally kick arse. I'm looking forward to the film and all but what does this say about what'll happen to the Gorillaz site? Was the fans devotion for shit, the fucking ponce has some things to answer to. I want to see comments just not towards me 'cause I won't be on here I'm gonna go find what's happening and find a way to save the Gorillaz. If you want to read the full article go to http://www.nme.com/news/gorillaz/27820. Peace out luvs.
Those are fairly old articles. By the times those came out everyone on G-U was aware of reports that Gorillaz may end.

Re: No More Gorillaz Albums!


11 years ago

If nothing else, I think we can all be fairly certain that Damon and Jamie aren't going to stop creating, or stop creating together. There seem to be a few people here that care only for things that are purely Gorillaz, and everything else is shit to them. That is a rather unfortunate attitude. These two are creative and talented individuals, and I look forward to all their projects with enthusiasm. Furthermore, with even the small glimpse I've had at this opera, I can already make out the spark, the flavor, that also dwells in Gorillaz, that makes Gorillaz so attractive to me.

Of course, I'm hoping for the movie just like everyone else is, and will be more than disappointed if it gets dropped. And we will know who to blame if that happens.

In such an event, I vote we beak into the vocalist's home and smear burgers on his walls, and send him swan-shaped scones laced with laxatives....



July 19 2007, 15:57:45 UTC 11 years ago

HERE HERE! those two need to make more new stuff other than Gorillaz, Yes the date might be in next July or the next ( 2009 ) but during that time they're doin' new stuff like Monkey, I speak for those who wanna see more of this stuff so...



don't ever ever ever ever ever ever ever stop this creative bond! i beg of ya! More Songs, More Art! MORE NEW STUFF! 8D- that was random ^^;
gorillaz are definitely out of the spotlight , Like last time when phase 1 ended it took three years for gorillaz to come back then phase 2 began a whole new chapter
I know this news is sort of old but I have to ask... am I the only one who doesn't give a rats ass about what other projects Damon has planned?


July 20 2007, 18:07:27 UTC 11 years ago

No you're not the only one. I sorta have that feeling too.



11 years ago

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