In the first of our series of Q&A’s, LIBBY LAVELLA discusses the song where it all began: “CARRY MY VOICE” – Perenelle’s theme. We’ve gathered up and summarized the most popular questions that have been asked about this song since its release, so Libby could answer everybody in a kind of virtual interview. Hope you enjoy it!
SPOILER ALERT: THERE ARE REFERENCES TO EVENTS IN THE BOOK SERIES IN THE TEXT BELOW, SO IF YOU’VE NOT READ THE BOOKS YET AND HATE SPOILERS, BEST GO OFF AND SORT THAT OUT BEFORE GOING ANY FURTHER.
Q: CARRY MY VOICE is the first song that you wrote for Michael Scott’s Flamel series. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Michael Scott and how the idea of writing theme songs for his books came about?
LL: I met Michael Scott in Los Angeles, and I’ve known him now for years. He really is one of the most intelligent and hardest working people I’ve ever met. When book one was released, “The Alchemyst”, Michael actually asked me to write a song for the website. I’d read the book, and of course I am a huge fan, and I thought, ok, well why not? The original idea was to write one song to help promote their book, but its popularity propelled the idea into a full fledged musical endeavor that is JUMEAUX. It’s crazy to think that a year before the series came out, Antonio, he and I had dinner together at Nicholas Flamel’s house! (But more on that story later….)
Q: Tell us a bit about the song. What made you decide to write a theme song for Perenelle, and what were your musical influences in writing this song?
LL: I always tend to gravitate to the dark, complex characters and the Perenelle character resonated with me a great deal. Michael Scott writes about some splendid female characters. So, for this song, Perenelle’s theme, I knew it had to have a more electronic but classical feel to it. So, I channeled Annie Lennox, in particular the song she wrote and sang for the first Lord of the Rings film, which was poetic, beautiful and very minimal. In addition, I was influenced by the work of Dead Can Dance. Lisa Gerard and Brendan Perry’s work is astonishingly lush and is supremely executed, and they are both so educated. I have a great deal of respect for their work. So to realize this, I didn’t have to look far! For years, my cousin Antonio (the other half the the JUMEAUX duo) and I had been looking for an excuse to work together and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I was fairly certain he would love the book too, and once he was on board it was a sure thing. As our music has evolved, I think we’ve married our two main strengths quite beautifully. Now, I should also mention Goldfrapp, Blonde Redhead, Empire Of The Sun and The xx as influences, each of those acts have helped inspire what Jumeaux has become.
What are your personal thoughts about Perenelle? How do you feel about her character in the way Michael Scott has depicted her? And what are your thoughts on the real Perenelle as an historical figure? Did you know anything about her at all before reading the books?
I’d like to know her better! I find her soooo intriguing. She’s pretty much the woman that I want to be when I grow up, and by grow up I mean, when I’m 509 years old ;-). She’s a strong, wise, talented, unassuming woman and yet she’s a quiet storm. You would not want to be on the wrong side of her, but you’d love to have her as your aunty. I think there could be a whole spin off series just about Perenelle. Then there was the devastating separation, her being trapped on Alcatraz, away from everything she loved and yet, you, as the reader, know full well she will get off that damned island and level every enemy in her path. I knew a little about Perenelle and Flamel before we began writing CARRY MY VOICE, mostly because Antonio used to live near their historic house in Paris and we discussed it whilst passing by on a regular basis. I did a little research, but did more after reading the book. I love that she was (or so they say) a Robin Hood type character, in that she helped build hospitals and schools with her wealth. Like I said, she was (or maybe still is?) a bad ass.
In listening to the lyrics of CARRY MY VOICE, it feels like there are references to the book series on many levels, as well as it being a song about the character Perenelle herself. Can you tell us a bit about the lyrics? What inspired you to write them the way you did, and what do the lyrics mean to you in terms of how they reference the book series?
In writing CARRY MY VOICE, I had to contemplate loss. I truly believe that you do not know how much you love someone until you either lose them or are faced with the prospect of losing them. In Perenelle and Flamel’s case, it’s hundreds of years of being with the same person…I don’t think that that is easy to comprehend, it isn’t for me, so I had to go with myself. Antonio and I wrote the lyrics and we were both talking about great love, great loss and the idea of being with someone who “writes my words”. The idea of our lives being like pages in a book felt like a powerful image with the Flamels being booksellers, not to mention the central drama of the whole story being about guarding the most important book ever written. So this simple metaphor of someone “writing my words” took on broader dimensions that resonate with grander overall themes in the books, while also remaining just a beautiful, simple sentiment between two people. That there is someone in your life who is writing your future just because they exist. C’est formidable! Of course many of the lyrics we’ve written could apply to several of the characters, but there are only so many songs and there are an inordinate amount of characters in this series. Michael is a freak!
What role did Michael Scott play in making this song? Did he help you write the lyrics or give you any kind of guidance?
No. In true genius fashion, he just created the thing that inspired the song. All he said was (insert Irish accent here), “My dear, write a song for the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel”, and so we did.
Michael Scott used CARRY MY VOICE as the official theme song for Perenelle on his site for the book series, and he tells us it was downloaded over 120,000 times by fans. There have been fan videos made on YouTube that used the song, and feedback from all over the world saying how much they love the song. That must have felt great!
It’s so interesting how things unfold. Antonio and I have been working separately on numerous projects for year, and it’s always when you least expect it that one little spark becomes a forest fire. It feels great that the work we’ve been doing has been so well received and appreciated.
You’ve recently made a new remix of CARRY MY VOICE. What made you decide to remix the song and how did that all come together?
Well actually Antonio remixed the song. After we’d recorded THIS WAY FOREVER, FIND THE WORDS and some other titles that we haven’t released yet, we found that our “sound” had started to come into its stride. So Antonio pretty much felt that CARRY MY VOICE deserved a refresh, to bring it more into the fold. Me, I just oo and ahh, and slap out some bass notes or chug on a guitar every once in a while when I happen to be in his arrondissement! That said, I am so pleased with the remix… I hope the fans dig it.
CARRY MY VOICE is a very emotive, visual song. One of the fan comments on YouTube mentioned that the song really painted a mental picture of Perenelle when she’s being kept prisoner on Alcatraz. Do you have any plans for a music video for this song?
Yes. I really want to see CARRY MY VOICE put to film… there is more to come on that. For now, our videos for THIS WAY FOREVER and the teaser for BURY ME DEEP will have to suffice. But yes, there is definitely something in the works, and we may put up a teaser of it some time soon. 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions, Libby. One last question: Can you give us an idea of which character or characters you’re thinking of writing the next songs about? And would you be open to suggestions about what other songs could be about too?
Well, BURY ME DEEP is a new song that is coming soon, which is inspired by the Paris Catacombs and the character of Mars Ultor. Then there is FOLLOW, which will see us collaborate with an outside writer for the first time, the fabulous singer/songwriter Raelux. She is pretty much a warrior rock pop princess, so it should come as no surprise whatsoever that the song FOLLOW is going to be our theme for Scatach! It’s time. I’ve wanted to write a song for Scatach since the beginning, but it truly broke my heart when Aoife, her sister went flying into that leygate. I tell you what, if Michael Scott doesn’t reunite Scatty and Aoife, there’ll be some hell to pay! The Morrigan has a song coming her way too… it will probably be sans lyrics though, just Lisa Gerard-esque nonsensical cries and crow-like crooning. Hmm, maybe that description doesn’t really do it justice? Think dark, richly layered textural and cinematic music, with Sigur Ros channeling the spirit of a celtic crow goddess, topped with haunting vocals, not necessarily with words. OK maybe no description can really do it justice. Stay tuned for when we finish recording it and unleash it on you all!