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Writing a song for a band within a TV series (Diagetic Music)

When my world of ‘composing for soundtracks’ (non-diagetic music) crosses over into ‘writing songs for bands’ that are performing in the film (diagetic music), then a project can really get the creative juices flowing!

For Season 3 of DCI Banks I was asked to compose a song for a fictional band called The Crystal Kiss. The story was about the murder of a band member back in the 1980s: the heyday of this band. I composed Marginal Love along with Dan Jeffries in the style of a 1980s British guitar band, and singer songwriter Sherri Casey wrote the lyrics and performed the track.

Director Ed Bazalgette then shot a pop promo for this song that was used in the show – in a scene where DCI Banks is searching for more information about the band on the web – and he stumbles across their 80s hit ‘Marginal Love’. Marginal Love was the follow-up hit in the script to Lonely Heart – also composed by myself for the show. The pop promo itself was directed by Ed Bazalgette and edited by Ben Drury. The track was produced by myself and Dan Jeffries and mixed by Jake Jackson, with vocals by Sherri Casey.

One of the challenges of writing this song was that the song needed to written and recorded before the actual filming of the episodes took place because the song had be used as playback for the artists to mime to when the shoot for the pop video took place. So without seeing any footage of the actors or story I had to create this song. I had many discussions with the director Ed Bazalgette about the style of the song and what would work best.

For the shoot I was only asked to write one verse of the song as they only needed a small clip for DCI Banks to be looking at on his computer. So that is the reason the verse is repeated in the clip shown in the episode.

Creating and producing this song for the series added a huge amount of time to my scoring workload but it was an incredibly enjoyable experience and the producers were really pleased with the finished song. We joked about bringing The Crystal Kiss on a European tour one day and performing this live!