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Field Music reunite for Berwick Film Festival

The chance to compose a soundtrack to a silent seminal documentary became the reunion vehicle Sunderland music makers, Field Music had been waiting for

Field Music
Field Music

A year spent touring and promoting their Mercury Music Prize-shortlisted album, Plumb left Field Music brothers, Peter and David Brewis on the lookout for a new project.

Continuing their mission to avoid the well-trodden album-tour treadmill and “keep everybody interested”, the Sunderland siblings were dabbling in a variety of individual projects - and enjoying a new family, in the case of Peter - when the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival came-a-calling.

“Melanie (Iredale, the festival director) had approached us the year before,” says Peter, “but we weren’t able to make it work. But this time around, the timing was right and the project really interested us.”

That project was to compose a soundtrack for the 1929 silent documentary, Drifters.

Made by pioneering Scottish film-maker John Grierson, who coined the term, documentary, the film follows the working day of a herring fishing fleet as they set sail from the Shetland Islands to battle the elements of the North Sea fishing grounds.

“We saw a really modern film of its time,” says Peter. “It uses collage and juxtaposed images, which fits in with the way we go about music and allowed us to be experimental.

“Our idea of being successful is to do good things and not necessarily trying to live up to other people’s idea of what Field Music is, and we saw this as something which could be really interesting.”

The commission, which also fits with the festival’s North by Northeast theme exploring the region’s connections to the North Sea, also offered Peter and David the chance to welcome former band member Andrew Moore back into the fold.

“We’d been trying to find a short term project - a reason for us all to get together again and Andy seemed very much into the idea,” says Peter.

“It’s been really nice to work together again. Of course we still saw each other of for a drink every few months, we’ve all been mates for years .”

When it came to getting started, the boys set up a projector in the studio and started trying things out.

“We really didn’t want to make a pseudo cinematic score,” says Peter. “What we’ve ended up with a quite a sparse sound, which is a bit of a departure for us because a Field Music record usually has everything thrown at it,” he laughs.

The composition they’ve come up with also leaves room for improvisation.

“We’re performing it live at the screening, so we wanted to be able to react to the images on the night - otherwise we may as well of just recorded it. That’s nerve-wracking of course, and we’ll be on the edge of our seats at the side of the stage, but it will hopefully work really well.”

As well as the performance on Friday night at the town’s Maltings, there are also plans to perform the soundtrack in London in November.

“We’ve had lots of offers to perform it, which has been great,” says Peter. “We’ve recorded all the rehearsals and we might record the piece at some point.”

Drifters will be screened with a live soundtrack on Friday at the Maltings, at 8p.

The Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival begins on Wednesday and runs until Saturday. For full listings and booking details, visit www.berwickfilm-artsfest.com

 

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