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Lorne Balfe talks about ‘Electric Energy’ and scoring the music for ‘Argylle’

Scottish composer and producer Lorne Balfe chatted about “Electric Energy” and scoring the music for “Argylle.”

Lorne Balfe
Lorne Balfe. Photo Credit: Ethan Gillespie
Lorne Balfe. Photo Credit: Ethan Gillespie

Scottish composer and producer Lorne Balfe chatted about “Electric Energy” and scoring the music for “Argylle,” which was directed by Matthew Vaughn.

Balfe is a two-time Emmy nominated and a Grammy award-winning composer and musician.

‘Electric Energy’ song and music video

On the concept for “Electric Energy,” he said, “It came about from disco. Matthew loves disco. The tempo felt right, and the feel was right. It gave you the feeling of wanting to have fun. It gives you escapism and it makes you smile, and that’s what we all want from a cinema experience.”

“It is actually the main theme in the film,” he disclosed. “One thing that we wanted to do was to have songs related to the main theme of the film. That was the basis of it.”

Working with Matthew Vaughn as director

On working with Matthew Vaughn as director, Balfe said, “It has been fantastic! Looking at the movies that Matthew made, those are the movies that I have enjoyed as an audience member. Working with him was an actor. He is a fantastic director with great taste.”

“Music is very important to him so working in that field with him was a great journey, and a great collaborative experience,” he added.

Doing the musical score for ‘Argylle’

Balfe opened up about doing the music score for “Argylle.” “It was a great experience but also a long experience,” he said. “I started writing the main theme 3.5 years ago. I actually wrote it with Matthew. He has great ideas for melodies and harmonies. I started coming up with a theme and he was very much involved with it.”

“That was the beginning of that journey,” Balfe admitted. “The whole general experience has been so enjoyable. It always is when you work with directors that have an amazing passion for what they are creating.”

“I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to work with some of the best directors in the world, and Matthew is one of them,” he said.

Balfe continued, “Matthew has a very unique voice, and an unbelievable sense of style when it comes to filmmaking. He is also great at pushing you to make sure you do your best and taking you out of your comfort zone.”

“Matthew wants you to experiment and to try new things musically. It has been great fun and I’ve learned things and different ways to approach storytelling,” he added.

The digital age

On being a composer and producer in the digital age, he said, “The biggest change has been the concept of creation. When you look at the process, it is no different than editors.”

“If you went back 30 or 40 years ago, it would take much longer to edit a film compared to now where it is digital. That’s the same with writing. It is a far quicker process. That also means that more content is being created. Before, you used to have two or three big films a year, now you seem to have two big films every month,” he explained.

“There seems to be more work being created but the speed of it is at a much faster rate,” he said. “There are more opportunities and jobs that are due to streaming. Before, if you were based in Britain, if you were a TV composer, you only had four channels.”

“Now, you’ve got hundreds that are commissioning shows to be made,” he said. “That has changed the work ethic significantly. Technology has helped the concept of creation. It has reduced the requirements of using live musicians.”

“Most TV shows you watch are using samples because the budgets are less. The ability to commission an orchestra is a luxury. Fewer shows allow it, and fewer films allow it. The budgets of independent films make it very difficult to employ live musicians,” he said.

“The sample quality of the technology-based music has increased so much, which makes it extremely difficult to tell the difference between a real instrument and a sample,” he added.

Technology in his daily routine

Regarding his use of technology in his daily routine, he said, “Without technology, I wouldn’t be able to create.”

Balfe continued, “I’m dyslexic so the concept of writing and notating music has never been very successful for me when I was first starting out, and I really struggled.”

“Technology allows me to be able to create now. I use a sequencer where I can see the key editor and it helps me understand the shape and structure of what I am writing,” he said.

“Technology has also significantly helped with creating demos,” he said. “The quality in the orchestra samples now is so advanced that you end up debating if it’s real or not. That really does help my workflow.”

“We work with editors and directors with programs such as Zoom and Overcast, which really help the creative process. You don’t have to travel to be with somebody, you can work with them virtually and create with them without having to be away from home,” he elaborated.

Career-defining moments

When asked about his career-defining moments, he responded, “I don’t think so. I think I am still trying to be defined. I am still trying to experiment and to keep learning in different departments and different styles.”

“I don’t believe it has happened yet, which is why I try to keep working on different projects such as animation, romantic comedies, or action movies,” he said.

“I am always changing the palette and the style of what I am working on. I don’t keep in the same realm. It is good to keep pushing yourself and to try new things and new approaches. I don’t get complacent; I always try new things,” he acknowledged.

Advice for aspiring composers

For young and aspiring music producers and composers, he said, “Always keep learning and always keep discovering new music and artists. Broaden your musical tastes; don’t always listen to what you like.”

“Try to discover genres that are outside of your comfort zone. Find music and listen to it to learn what another point of view is,” he said.

“Another thing for film composers is to try and study the classics,” he said. “Spend more time studying the origins of classical music instead of studying film music. Go to where those composers have learned from, which are the classical masters.”

“Try something different with every project that you do. If you just repeat yourself, there is never any evolution to what you are creating or how you are creating,” he added.

Success

On his definition of the word success, Balfe said, “Success changes continuously the older you get. I think you start off thinking that it means awards, and then you start thinking that it’s money-related, and then you think it could be fame-related.”

“Then, you begin not worrying about it. To me, success has nothing to do with work. It has to do with your family being happy and the people and friends around you feeling looked after, trying to help other people, and give opportunities to other people that want to become composers,” he elaborated.

“Discover new talent, encourage them, and give them careers. That’s what success means to me… being able to give back and create opportunities and not worrying about things such as trophies,” he added.

Closing thoughts on ‘Electric Energy’

Balfe remarked about “Electric Energy, “This song really is a great example of a team collaboration. Being able to bring all different styles and tastes to the table when creating. It was co-written with the director and that’s a significant thing because it shows Matthew is involved in it.”

“Every single person brought a new idea to the track. We started off with the main theme of the film ‘Argylle,’ and from that, every single person brought their own identity to it. As soon as you hear it, you feel like it’s a song that’s a part of your history,” he concluded.

“This song is fun, feel-good escapism, and it sums up the film,” he concluded.

“Electric Energy” is available on digitals service providers by clicking here.

To learn more about Lorne Balfe, check out his official website, and follow him on Instagram.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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