After the whirlwind awards run earlier this year for “12 Years A Slave,” and with no project yet on the horizon, director Steve McQueen is kicking back and enjoying the time off by stopping by the BBC Radio show “Desert Island Discs,” to both showcase some of his favorite music and talk a bit about his career.
Hosted by Kirsty Young, the BBC Radio 4 program sits down with a guest each week to ask them what eight pieces of music, literature, and luxury they would take if they were stranded on an island, all the while interviewing the subjects. It should come as no surprise that McQueen was his typical honest self, whether it was talking about being underestimated as a student by his school (he was placed in a class focusing on manual labor) or explaining his decision to not play up the evilness of the violence of the slave trade in “12 Years A Slave” by using over stylized cinematography (“You can’t put a filter on real life”). McQueen also drops a few names talking about a surprise encounter with Prince at Madonna’s Oscar after-party.
With regards to the “Hunger” director’s musical choices, the eight songs are an eclectic mix, with a Kanye West track sharing space with Miles Davis and Kate Bush. Though his soundtrack choices aren’t as showy or buzzy as those by Wes Anderson or Quentin Tarantino, McQueen has still used music to great effect in all three of his features: the Michael Gordon-composed cello piece “Industry” in “Hunger,” Carey Mulligan singing “New York, New York” in “Shame,” and especially the devastating use of “Roll, Jordan, Roll” in “12 Years A Slave.” His soundtrack choices work on a more contextual and subtle level than what is usually celebrated as a great intersection of film and music.
Listen to the podcast of “Desert Island Discs” below—which includes a Glenn Gould-performed track used in “Shame” [BBC]