FEATURE: Nel Unlit – My Inspiration | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Nel Unlit released new single Fireflies this month, we could up with John Horner from the band to find out more…

The main inspiration for Fireflies and the album as a whole is the author, Neil Gaiman and his Sandman series. It is Worlds’ End from this series that the album is adapted from. We felt from the beginning that the songs had to be as loyal as possible to the story.  Fireflies as the opening track represents this well. There are hooks in there but they don’t come back if the story doesn’t require it. That was a constant battle. When we liked a section but couldn’t bring it back later because the story wouldn’t let us. The biggest dilemma though was one that I imagine a lot of screenwriters, working with great authors’ work have. How do you improve on a masterpiece? Answer… you don’t. You just try not to mess it up. 

We wanted the record to be somewhere between pop music and theatre. Brian Wilson’s Smile was a big influence here. The grand, ambitious and dynamic arrangements really give a sense of drama and majesty. We also owe so much to Anais Mitchell’s folk operas, Richard Dawson’s ‘Peasant’ and the ultimate concept album, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. 

We decided early on that we wanted a few musical themes that would recur throughout the record, Dream’s theme, Death’s theme and The Inn theme. The idea being that the theme would induce an almost Pavlovian response, like when you hear the imperial march, you know Darth Vader is about to burst in and ruin someone’s day. We listened to a lot of soundtracks and musicals to learn how to do this, from Mogwai and Johann Johannsson’ soundtrack work through John Williams and Ennio Morricone to Jesus Christ Superstar and Peter And The Wolf. Dream’s theme appears in the woodwind of fireflies. It’s subtle (hopefully not too subtle) but it’s there.

Nel Unlit’s new single Fireflies is out now.

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