The music of theatre

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Quentin La Chapele at the keyboard
Quentin Lachapele at the Keyboard

Making the Soundtrack

Composer Quentin Lachapele creates music for theatre, film and media. He has worked with Justice in Motion on a number of productions the latest being ON EDGE. We recently caught up with him to find out more about the process of creating the all important show soundtrack.

Inspiration

I’m an obsessive music listener. I go through phases where I’m going to listen to the same artist over and over to the point of having the feeling that their melodies become mine. So my inspirations usually vary with the seasons! But I always go back to the fundamentals, the pieces that hypnotised me as a kid, composers like Chopin and Debussy, the film scores of Danny Elfman (Edward Scissorhands) and John Williams (E.T., Star Wars) or the music of bands like Radiohead and Arcade Fire.

Recently I’ve developed a fascination for the work of composers like Patrick Watson, Jonny Greenwood (There Will Be Blood, The Master) and Hildur Gudnadottir (Joker, The Revenant). For me music has always been a tool to escape from reality and to become a storyteller, guiding the listener through a piece. When I first worked with Justice in Motion on Contained (2017) I fell in love with the approach of taking inspiration from a movement or a shape. I now always write with an image in my head of something moving inside a space, something with a shape and a texture.

Being part of a team

I find it fascinating to be part of a project from the start. I like to have a relationship with the team and really create a world around the project. If it’s an immersive experience, I can feed from the cast and creative team. For example I like being in the room when the actors create and rehearse. It provides me with lots of material to take inspiration from. To be so close to the writing process of a show is a privilege and I always cherish every minute of it. Being a composer is often a solitary role as you spend a lot of time in your studio, crafting and writing. With ON EDGE I was in there with them, in the rehearsal space, writing as the show was being built. I think it added a dimension to the music which I found thrilling!

The way I approach writing for a film used to be quite different than when I write for theatre. With films I often start writing towards the end of the production process. The film is already edited and the creative team has spent months on it and has a pretty solid idea of what they want. When it comes to theatre, I can see the play evolve and the music with it, it’s a freer and more organic process. A theatre performance grows over time, which brings more depth to the music. I’ve realised that, after working on ON EDGE, I’ve been adopting a more theatrical way of writing for films.

What gets me excited about a new project is first of all the people that gravitates around it. Then comes the story and the message.

The texture of music

To be honest, I never know what music I’m going to be writing when I start a project. When we started ON EDGE I thought the music would take a very masculine tone with some heavy guitars and action/battle like textures. But it turned out to be a blend of recordings. I bashed on the set and sounds of tools and bricks hitting concrete mixed with some raw instruments and electronic beats. I think we tried to create a music that would set up an atmosphere while sustaining the amazing energy of the cast. The show is acrobatically and emotionally intense and I hope the music gives it justice.

Listen to Exhaustion, the final album track, and let us know what you think.

The ON EDGE soundtrack is available online on most streaming platform (Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, etc…) but you can purchase a hard copy by emailing the company at info@justiceinmotion.co.uk.

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