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The Music Behind The Mirror


Music finds itself at the heart of much of the incredible line-up of events at RE//PERTH. This is particularly the case with The Mirror, Gravity & Other Myths’ enthralling new show. Ahead of their July run of shows, we were lucky enough to chat with the award-winning composer behind the magic, Ekrem Eli Pheonix.

In three words, how would you describe your music?

Transporting, Multi-layered, Unexpected

What inspired your compositions for The Mirror?

During creative development we were playing with the ideas of ’self’ - How we create, sustain, change and maintain our ’selves’. The inspiration came from looking at these concepts from multiple angles - psychological, cultural, social, and philosophical. Then I was able to translate these findings into music. For instance, there’s this idea that our personalities are a collage of ideas, patterns, thoughts, habits, likes and dislikes we’ve collected from our social environment. I interpreted this musically by composing songs that lyrically, melodically, harmonically and texturally alluded to a number of other songs. So subtly, that you can sense them but never quite pinpoint them.

Can you share a memorable experience or anecdote from the process of creating the music for The Mirror?

When I compose, I always have a dedicated notebook for the ideas, fleeting thoughts and observations revolving around the project. For The Mirror, however, the amount of information was so vast and varied that it had to explode out of my notebook onto the walls of my hotel room. For more than a month, I lived encircled by hundreds of 300 gsm, colour-coded paper notes that rippled like feathers or dragon scales. It was great to have access to my mind so visually. It was strangely soothing also.

What message or feeling do you hope audiences take away from the show and music?

I hope they find a generous space to access the work, to hear/feel/think freely and for themselves. As a composer, I am interested in opening space with my music. I aim to make room for the listeners to slip into a state where they can experience the work, and indeed their internal world, in individual ways, rather than prescribing within my music what I would like them to feel or think.

Can you talk about any unique or innovative techniques you used in the composition process?

While composing The Mirror, I collected personal data from the cast, including their favourite songs, their birthplaces, how many siblings they have, how many tattoos, the number of bones they’ve broken over the years and which ones etc. By analysing and editing this data, I was able to create compositional structures for the pieces. It was heady, analytical and involved yet somehow also intuitive, organic and fun. It also brought a very personal and profound dimension to the music and to my decisions while crafting and composing it.

Which piece from The Mirror are you most proud of and why?

Curiously, I feel The Mirror as one single piece with multiple movements within it. I am proud of its flow and the way it carries energy from beginning to end. Oh, and I‘m proud of the number of musical easter eggs I managed to hide in it for the audience. I love talking to the audience members after a show and finding out which ones they were able to spot and hear. So yes, keep your ears open and find me after the show. Let’s talk.

How did you collaborate with other members of the production team to ensure the music perfectly complemented the show?

I’ve been working with Gravity & Other Myths for 5 years now and the creative process is always a conversation. I attend all the rehearsals and take part in the physical training. I compose in the rehearsal space and breathe the same air as the acrobats. I witness the birth of scenes and how they grow and evolve. The music comes from the floor. I only leave that space to produce the tracks or do recordings. For me, the music is never separate from the physical, never airdropped into the work or approached as simply an accompaniment. When done well, it must feel as natural as breath.

How does composing for a show like The Mirror differ from your previous works?

For The Mirror, I got to wield ‘Pop’ as a genre and oh boi, did I love it. As a composer with a portfolio of choral and orchestral works and a PhD, I had never really gotten to explore pop as a musical gesture or language. Let me tell you, it packs an immense punch! It is impactful. It is immediate, accessible and it is captivating. It is challenging and intricate. It required me to make decisions much differently than I normally would. For instance, I found that I needed to understand our current world, the zeitgeist and the trends much more deeply and personally. I never had to do that before, certainly not at that magnitude. Now, I am changed forever. Watch this space for some pop tracks in the near future.

The Mirror is running from 2 – 27 July and tickets are selling fast! Book now to secure your spots.