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Andy Burrows and Ilan Eshkeri interviews and biographies

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Andy Burrows

How did you become involved in this project and what attracted you to it?

Ilan Eshkeri called me up and said that the people making The Snowman liked my music, that he'd been asked to work on the film, and that this would be the perfect project for us to collaborate on. It's a total dream to get something like this. The Snowman is part of our culture. I grew up with it. Plus I LOVE Christmas, just everything about this time of year, it's so magical.

What was your working brief for the song? Were you given instructions about what it should be about?

Not any specific instructions. They seemed to be quite into the idea of just letting me come up with something. I think there was a sort of unspoken set of rules. The original Snowman film and soundtrack is so ingrained in my heart and my mind, so I knew it needed to be a dreamlike song to accompany the beautiful flying scene. 'Light The Night' is what came to me after watching the film. Nothing can ever touch 'Walking in The Air' - it's a total classic - but I think the new song works really well with the slightly more modern landscape featured in the flight on The Snowman and The Snowdog. It's a little more pop!

Did you see the animation that the song was to accompany before you wrote it?

Yes. I did. It totally blew me away. I had goose bumps all the way through. The scene where you first see the Snowman come back to life is incredible. I needed to see it to fully immerse myself in it. Ilan and me saw it together and then got to work on it straight away. We LOVED it from the off!

Were you a fan of the original Snowman and did you watch it again for inspiration?

Yes, definitely - but then I watch it several times a year anyway. I'm a true fan! I adore it. I still can't believe we've done the music to this incredible sequel.

The song ‘Light the Night' is quite different from ‘Walking in the Air' isn't it? Was it your intention to make something a bit more modern?

Yep, I think so, because this film is 30 years on. The landscape in the film has changed. They fly over skyscrapers so it all looks slightly more modern. With the entire score, Ilan and I have tried to create something that mixes the classical elements of the music from the original movie with a slightly more contemporary feel in parts.

Is it difficult writing something like this for a family audience?

I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the writing process for this. I'm a dad myself, so I would constantly stop and ask my 4-year old daughter, Chloe, if she likes what I'm doing - if she says it's no good, then I scrap it. It's a film for adults and children alike. I think the music reflects that.

The project has remained top secret - has it been difficult to keep your lips sealed?

Yes it has, because it's all so exciting and I just want to tell EVERYONE! But I haven't. We haven't. It's been known as #secretproject on Twitter.

What do you think of the sequel The Snowman and The Snowdog?

I think it is stunning and so respectful of the original. The drawing is just beautiful, capturing all the magic of the original, but moving it forward at the same time. They have done such an incredible job on it.

What are your favourite Christmas singles from over the years?

I have loads...

'White Christmas' by Bing Crosby

'Wonderful Christmas Time' by Paul McCartney

'Last Christmas' by Wham

'When The Thames Froze' by Smith & Burrows

'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues

'Driving Home for Christmas' by Chris Rea

'Happy Xmas War is Over' by John Lennon

'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' by Blane/Martin

"All I Want for Christmas' by Mariah Carey

'Step into Christmas' by Elton John

Andy Burrows - Biography

A supremely talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Andy Burrows first came to attention with Razorlight, joining as drummer in 2004 and going on to co-write some of that band's biggest hits, including the #1 single, America. Leaving Razorlight in 2009, Burrows joined We Are Scientists as a part-time member, before releasing the album Sun Comes Up Again, under the moniker I Am Arrows, in 2010. Sun Comes Up Again garnered righteous critical acclaim and massive radio airplay for its Green Grass single.

What followed for Burrows was an incredibly prolific purple patch. First he joined up with long-time friend and Editors frontman Tom Smith as Smith & Burrows for 2011's Funny Looking Angels, an album of wintery vignettes and Christmas melancholy. Then, he agreed to decamp to New York to become a full-time Scientist. And midst all this, Burrows was hard at work on his own material, using a more straight-ahead approach than on his debut, all of it injected with Burrows way with an earworming hook.

The resulting album, Company, emerged as Burrows' truest yet. He embraced a straight-ahead approach, building an album steeped in rock classicism and raw, melancholic melodies. The result is effortlessly intoxicating - the sound of an artist who's thrown the shackles off and emerged as an bewilderingly creative tour-de-force.

Ilan Eshkeri

You're a composer in huge demand - what made you say yes to compose The Snowman and The Snowdog?

I grew up loving The Snowman and I love all things Christmas. How could you turn down the opportunity to be part of a British institution?

How did you come to collaborate with Andy on this?

We were looking for a British artist who could write with a sense of nostalgia and also had a British folk element to their work. We looked at a few artists but it was clear very early on that Andy's work stood out. When I rang him to ask him if he was interested he was so stunned with joy he dropped the phone and when he met the filmmakers the enthusiasm won them over. Andy and I had been looking on a project to work on for some time. He'd helped me out on Johnny English and I had done a string arrangement for him and Tom Smith for their album last year. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to work on a great project together. It's been a wonderful collaboration and I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have done it with.

How do you collaborate on a project like this?

Andy and I created all the main melodic material in the studio together on different occasions. We then often develop these themes separately and swapped ideas between us.

What was your working brief for the song? Were you given any indication of how it should sound? How did you and the filmmakers decide what the song should be?

We discussed broad ideas. We knew we wanted to write a stylistically contemporary song and we wanted it to be in Andy's voice so that unlike the original it couldn't be a first person narrative.

Why did you decide not to go for another choral number?

The film takes place 30 years later than the original and we wanted something that related to our contemporary pop world that the characters in the film would also be surrounded by.

Did you see the animation that the song was to accompany before you wrote it?

Different parts of the animation were at different stages of development. When we started very few of the scenes that the song covered were complete so there was a mixture of pencil drawings and early stage animation. It is always quite exciting to see the animation develop.

Is it difficult writing music to a sequel of an animation that is so well loved?

Both Andy and I felt the responsibility of creating a work that would live up to the expectations of both the adults who grew up watching the original and entertaining the new child audience. Ultimately all you can do is put your heart and soul into it and create your best work. Hopefully the rest of the world will like it. If our work brings even half as much joy as the original did then we will both be very proud.

What do you think of the sequel The Snowman and The Snowdog?

I love it. It's a beautiful and heart wrenching story with genuinely funny moments too. Regardless of the original I'm honoured to have been involved and to have collaborated with all the amazing people who have created The Snowman and The Snowdog.

Will people be able to buy ‘Light the Night'?

Yes it will be available to buy on iTunes from Monday 10th December. It will be released as a single alongside the album and it will be a slightly different version to the way it is in the film. I can't wait until we start hearing it on the radio and seeing it on TV and we really hope people love it.

Ilan Eshkeri - Biography

Ilan Eshkeri is a British composer best known for his film scores to Stardust, The Young Victoria and Kick-Ass, as well as his collaborations with bands. His career is notable for its diversity; recently he scored Ralph Fiennes' Shakespearean directorial debut Coriolanus, Rowan Atkinson's comedy caper Johnny English Reborn, collaborated with electronic music legend Amon Tobin on a live performance of his work, and was commissioned to write for the world renown pianist Lang Lang.

Eshkeri is currently working with Ralph Fiennes on his second film as a director, The Invisible Woman, a Dickens' biopic. Other current projects include co-writing the score for Stone Roses inspired film Spike Island with Ash frontman Tim Wheeler and scoring the animated film Justin and the Knights of Valour starring Antonio Banderas.

Early in his career Eshkeri composed the score to the cult british gangster film Layer Cake, which earned him a nomination for 'Discovery of the Year' at the World Soundtrack Awards. His score to Stardust won the International Film Music Critics Association award for 'Best Original Score'. Eshkeri's soundtrack to The Young Victoria topped the classical music charts for several weeks and received a nomination at the Ivor Novello awards. Eshkeri has also been nominated for three world soundtrack awards.

Eshkeri's collaborations with bands and solo artists include arrangements of Annie Lennox's best known songs for her concert with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, arranging for David Gilmour on his last album On An Island, co-writing with The Cinematic Orchestra, and collaborating with Tom Smith, Editors, and Andy Burrows, Razorlight, on their Christmas album collaboration Smith & Burrows and with Emmy the Great on her album Virtue. He also wrote the song Only You for Sinead O'Connor and worked with Take That on the film Stardust.

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