‘You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.’ J. M. Barrie.
There is nothing better than loving and enjoying what you do. Music, like any art, is principally for the fulfillment of the soul, the creators release. With many modern bands, there can be such a hang up and emphasis on achieving certain goals, that those golden hours do pass them by, and the joys of being and creating are lost. Thankfully, this is not the case for Bill Ryder-Jones.
It has been two and a half years since Bill left The Coral, in somewhat of a haze of mystique. The reasons for the departure are of little interest now, but what most definitely is of interest is the re-emergence of the guitarist with a new project and on a new creative path. Having signed to Domino Publishing, a wing of the highly influential record label, Bill scored A Leave Taking earlier this year, a film produced in the North West which received its world premier at Cannes, and he is currently in the process of scoring the Italo Calvino novel If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler. But what was it in particular about Calvino’s novel that inspired Bill to create music for it?
“Its a really tricky book to talk about” Bill tells me, over a chai on Bold Street. “The novel is based around ten different opening chapters, of ten different books. The point of the book really is about those first pages of a novel that really get you, where its full of promise. Like music in a way, the first time you hear something that you really love, before you think about where it goes or before you preempt the resolves, that initial moment of wonder that only lasts so long. Thats what the book is about.”
And that offers itself naturally for a musical score? “Yes, definitely. There’s ten different ideas and that leant itself well for writing the music. I’d like people who’ve read the book and hear the music to be able to make the link between the various different passages. Its not meant to bend peoples mind’s or anything, but I thought if somebody else out there had done it, I’d be interested in the idea having read the book.”
What would seem to some a marked deviation from the musical trajectory which gave him such success, to Bill feels completely natural, a development of his skills as a composer. But is there something in particular about the film score format in comparison to the pop song which gives him that freedom to explore his ideas?
“I really love classical music and I suppose I’ve always, deep down, been a little bitter about the fact that I’m not some classical genius and this is a way of bridging those two worlds. Also, its about dramatics and with bands, they often get it wrong. There’s hardly any bands that do dramatics which I like and who really get it right, maybe apart from Arcade Fire and Anna Calvi, who’s an amazing new artist on Domino.”
I can tell that Bill holds Domino in great affection and I suspect that this has much to do with the confidence they have shown in him. By Bill’s own admission, his previous endeavors secure him little favoritism in his new arena beyond the nod of familiarity and I suspect he’s keen to reward Domino’s faith…“When I joined Domino I went down to meet up with Laurence Bell to talk about what I wanted to do and he suggested writing a score for an imaginary film and I knew straight away I wanted to write a score for the book. It just works. You totally get absorbed in it, without sounding too heavy its given me eight months of my life, which is really what you want from art. I read it everyday. I’ve written an hour and a half’s worth of music and its almost finished now. I think with music you have to work out what it is thats unique to you, then essentially thats what you are. I love what I’m doing.”
And that is the single most important thing. Bill has a fire in his belly. He talks buoyantly about Abel Korzeniowski and his score for Tom Ford’s ‘A Single Man’, Shigeru Umebayashi (another who made the leap from the world of rock to film) and Jonny Greenwood, “‘There will be blood’ has grown into one of my favorite records ever, irregardless of the film.” Bill is absorbed in his work and excited about the future, with hunger and desire to boot.
Bill Ryder-Jones has time and youth on his side. He is watching those golden hours slip by. And he is loving every amber minute of it.