We grab a chat with this year’s musical writing partners, Tamsin and Roman – who’s Piccadilly Line stop is Knightsbridge! Let’s see how they’ve handled the exciting challenge of creating a brand new musical theatre show-stopper.
What was your reaction to this year’s Blind Date theme, and your assigned station?
I thought it was a brilliant idea. Simple, but with so much scope! I’d never really given Knightsbridge much thought beyond ‘Harrods really isn’t what it used to be, is it?’ But I found an 1878 history of the area online, which was full of fascinating details and anecdotes. I discovered that a gratifyingly raffish history lurks behind the fancy facades of Cadogan Place and Belgrave Square. The area contains a medieval plague pit, a lost river (the Wesbourne), the site of a gallows tree. It was the last resting place of Henry VIII’s corpse. It was a civil war battlefield. And it was the haunt of bloodthirsty Crusaders, ‘Draggletailed’ Revolutionaries, duelling aristocrats, nefarious landlords, footpads and highwaymen, celebrity stalkers, failed entrepreneurs, runaway brides, Jacobite assassains, Victorian speculators, Royal mistresses…
It was a pleasure splashing about in the history, and we had at least 10 songs we could have written, from the harassed girl who sources Exotic Pets for Harrods (in fact they’ve just closed down that department, but still…) to a woman who fell madly in (unrequited) love with the Duke of Wellington and stalked him for years.
But the question we finally decided to answer is simply ‘Who were the Knights of Knightsbridge?’ Legend has it that the name comes from two knights who duelled on Westbourne Bridge for the hand of a fair maiden, fell into the river and drowned under the weight of their armour. Our brief was to write for a solo female voice, so we’re telling the maiden’s side of the story.
Why are you excited about Blind Date 2015?
I love writing with new people and the challenge of something as random as this – pick a name out of a hat and see what happens – really appealed to me. I came to the Blind Date 2014 showcase night on a whim, and was amazed by the variety of material inspired by the theme of the play. I promised myself as I went out that I’d find the nerve to participate in a similar event one day, and here I am, 4 years later! I’m really looking forward to hearing what everyone’s come up with – hope that our programme of songs will be as eclectic and entertaining as the last one was.
How you are your partners ‘writing dates’ been going?
Roman has been very patient! We met up before I went off radar, and I warned him that I wouldn’t be as accessible as I’d like to be for the next fortnight. But we had a great chat about all the different possible subjects I’d dug up, and narrowed it down to 3 or 4 we both liked, agreeing that I’d pick the one which one sparked the best idea for a song.
I was worried that I wasn’t leaving Roman much time to compose at the other end, and also that I might be too knackered to come up with anything decent in the few days we had left once I resurfaced, so I sent him another lyric I’d written which took a different angle on Knightsbridge than those we had discussed in our meeting, in which a blackmailing housekeeper describes the skullduggery going on behind closed doors in High Society. (Title: ‘I Wouldn’t Have Missed It’.) He’s done a beautifully witty setting of the lyric – so we’re ending up with two songs for the price of one!
Since a song specifically written by us together from scratch was the brief, I was still keen to deliver something on a theme we’d discussed together. I finally had breathing space last week to write something (inspiration coming rather inconveniently at 2am) and send it over. Roman very rightly came back saying that it was too long, so I cut it and tightened it, which definitely improved it. And I’ve just heard the first draft of the tune! It’s always an exciting moment when you hear a completed song for the first time, and I love what he’s done. There’s a bit of polishing left to do, which we’ll probably finesse after the sing through on Sunday, but it’s well on the way now. Hurrah!
Good Luck guys!