A MUSICIAN from Jersey has teamed up with the former Children’s Laureate to release a song about the human impact of the Ukraine war – with the money raised from sales due to fund training for surgeons in the country.
Jersey-born Sam Falle, who makes music under the moniker Winterfalle, has announced the release of his newest song, Snowdrops, which takes its lyrics from a poem written by Chris Riddell about Russia’s invasion.
As well as being the former Children’s Laureate, Mr Riddell co-wrote and illustrated the popular children’s fantasy novel series, The Edge Chronicles, and is known for his work as an illustrator and political cartoonist for the Observer. He has also created imagery for graphic novelist Neil Gaiman and musician Phoebe Bridgers.
The collaboration between Mr Falle and Mr Riddell began last year, when the poet was live-illustrating performances at a folk-music festival where the Jerseyman was playing.
Mr Riddell then took to the stage and read his Snowdrops poem.
‘It was such a powerful piece,’ said Mr Falle.
‘It hit me really hard how well he had captured the human impact of the war.’
Mr Riddell suggested that one of the musicians at the festival might want to set the poem to music, and Mr Falle could not resist taking him up on the offer.
‘You have a responsibility as a writer to bring justice to the words,’ explained Mr Falle.
‘It’s also challenging technically as, being a folk musician, I am used to songs having verses and a chorus. However, Snowdrops is a free-verse poem, with no stanzas or rhyme structure.’
Mr Falle developed the arrangement for the song with Jersey-based South African producer, Nic Dinnie.
The Winterfalle band recorded the final version at 123 Studios in Peckham, London, with producer Brett Shaw, who has previously produced work for Foals, Daughter, and Florence + the Machine.
Two short films, due to be released over the coming weeks, accompany the song.
Todd MacDonald, a Jersey-born filmmaker, developed the narrative for the music video in dialogue with Varta Arutiunian, a Ukrainian artist and refugee currently staying with a family in Hastings.
She shared her experience of escaping Ukraine and making a return visit earlier this year, filming her rail journeys across the country. This footage is included in the video.
The second film is a live performance of the song shot in Brighton, with Mr Falle performing Snowdrops alongside cellist Dom Main, while Mr Riddell live illustrates to the music.
The Snowdrops project will culminate in a headline show in London at The Finsbury on Tuesday 18 April.
All proceeds from the show’s ticket sales and the special illustrations produced by Mr Riddell will go to the David Knotts Foundation, which trains surgeons in Ukraine.
The Winterfalle band also features two other Jerseymen: Mr MacDonald on backing vocals and electric guitar, and Jack Chown on percussion.
Mr Falle said: ‘We are all so shaken by what’s been happening in the world, so we hope to help by doing this one small thing.
‘It’s so tragic that the words of Chris’s poem continue to resonate as they did a year ago. In an ideal world, this would all be over by now.’