One night in early December last year two composers and performers at different ends of the musical spectrum – David Arnold (pictured above) and Billy Bragg – were involved in separate similarly inspiring film and TV industry-related events.  Here’s an admittedly belated run through what each was up to.

First up was Billy Bragg, who appeared in the late afternoon at an event you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see him at – touting his wares for the ad community at one of music supervision and production company Native’s Lounge sessions.

The idea of Native’s Lounge Sessions is for up-and-coming acts to perform in front of invited members of the advertising industry. George Ezra has featured at a previous event. Seeing Bragg performing at the Lounge Session came as something of a surprise – for a start he’s hardly up-and-coming and, well, you just wouldn’t expect to see Bragg at such an event.

As it was, he played an excellent, well-received hour-long acoustic set in the small bar at audio post house Jungle (where Native is based). Afterwards I asked why he agreed to do it.

“I’m a jobbing songwriter, and in times like now when making money from songwriting has become more difficult because of the digitisation of music, we can spend all our time complaining about that and wishing things were back the way they were or getting involved in looking at other ways of earning a living.”

“The reality is I have to find the money to work the way I want to. We all have to make compromises in our careers just to get our records made. If we start to try and engage with these different possibilities and we can engage on our terms, that’s got to be worth investigating.”

It will be interesting to see if Bragg or his music makes its way onto a commercial in the coming year. If it does, you heard about it here first!

To find out more about Native’s Live Lounge sessions, click here.

A few hours later, David Arnold took to one of the smaller stages at the Royal Albert Hall at an event sponsored by Avid, BAFTA and PRS for Music, to be interviewed about his career in music and how he managed to land his dream job composing music for Bond films. In what turned out to be a really inspirational conversation, he was open and honest about how luck as well as talent has been heavily involved in his career to date.

“I haven’t actively gone out and thought, ‘I’m going to go out and do a, b, c or d’. The fact I’ve done so many different things is less to do with I’ve decided to do all these things and more to do with someone’s said, ‘Do you fancy doing this and me saying yes’. It’s been a curious cascade of coincidences.”

His first sizeable project, composing the music for Danny Cannon’s Young Americans, “wasn’t any different to doing the student films we’d done and I subsequently found out it wasn’t really any different to the big, big films I’ve done. Whatever the job is, you’re sitting in a room by yourself, there’s a series of images passing in front of you and the requirement is for you to solve the problems it throws at you. The only thing that changes is expectation, budget and the fact the whole world has an opinion about what you’re doing.”

Arnold then worked on a number of increasingly high-profile film commissions, until back in 1997, he decided to create an album of covers of Bond songs called Shaken And Stirred. “I sent it to Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [G. Wilson] at Eon as I wanted them to be ok with everything. They ended up putting the version of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by The Propellerheads into a rough cut of Tomorrow Never Dies, and they liked the feel of that. Then Barbara asked me to come in for a meeting and they let me have a go of it.”

“Most of my life I’d dreamed about writing Bond music and now I’m going to actually have to do it. The first day you sit down and think, well, what am I actually going to do? There’s this tidal wave of history that appears in front of you – the shadow of John {Barry]’s genius appears in front of you and all of a sudden you’re part of a legacy. Ultimately you’re just going to have to do the job – do the dream you’ve dreamed about.”

To find out more about the event, click here.

Staff Reporter

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