As this year’s much-awaited John Lewis Christmas advert ‘Buster the Boxer’ hits our screens, we chat to music supervisor Abi Leland about finding the right track for the campaign.
Hi Abi, thanks for chatting with us. How early on in the year were you given the script? At what point did you start discussing musical ideas?
The agency start working on script ideas early on in the year, in terms of our involvement this year we first started working on the project in May. Music is always discussed early on from script stage.
Dougal Wilson (the director) put ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’ on his very rough animatic early on in the project. We had the time to explore other songs but this was the right song for the film so once final decisions needed to be made all agreed that this was the one. The arranger we brought on board (Chris Hill) then worked on an orchestral arrangement of the song – he did a beautiful arrangement of the song which takes it to a different place but has lovely nods to the original within it.
How did you arrive at ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’ as the final choice?
Lyrically, the song ties into the storyline and also it has a good overall message and tone. But really importantly for the film this year is that it lends itself to a beautiful orchestral arrangement. The arrangement we created finds the perfect balance between being emotive but also brilliantly and humorously theatrical.
What were your biggest challenges when selecting the music for the spot?
A challenge this year was to be able to convey rough ideas at an early stage, using a synth orchestral arrangement and an initial rough demo take. It takes a certain amount of trust from a client to feel confident that what is missing from a mock up demo is going to be fulfilled once the final recording is done.
Can you tell us a little bit about Vaults and why they were chosen to record the cover? How did they first appear on your radar?
Vaults were discussed between us and Universal Music very early on in the process. We were looking for a performer whose voice is naturally emotive but also slightly theatrical, so the search for the right artist was quite specific. Blythe’s voice is really incredible and has the qualities we were looking for. We discovered that she loves the song, and even though Vaults are an electronic band, they also really like to work with strings and live instrumentation, so it felt right.
Did you get to meet Biff (who plays Buster the Boxer)?
Sadly not. The closest we got was a Buster cuddly toy who sat on the mixing desk at Abbey Road.
Chief Creative Officer: Ben Priest
Executive Creative Directors: Richard Brim, Ben Tollett
Director: Dougal Wilson
Producer: Nick Goldsmith
Track: ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’
Publisher: Universal / BMG
Performed by: Vaults
Music Supervision Company: Leland Music