Clock Opera's Guy Connelly On His Theatrical Side Hustle

Clock Opera's Guy Connelly On His Theatrical Side Hustle

He's been working on some high profile score projects...

Clock Opera have always been a bit different from the norm.

Slightly more cerebral, perhaps, or even literate, their book smart odd-pop has resulted in two fantastic studio albums.

Along the way, though, the band's Guy Connelly has been working on a variety of different theatrical projects, producing full scores for a number of productions.

With a new Clock Opera album on the way, Clash invited Guy to discuss this a bit more, opening up another side to his - and the band's - creativity.

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For the last ten years, almost exactly the length of time our band has been going, I’ve been writing scores for theatre and dance. It’s been a continual eye-opener. I make about three or four shows a year, on average and each new project has a new set of collaborators, different subject and requirement from sound and music.

Some things I’ve made have fed into the band, some not. But it’s certainly kept my creativity fresh. The opportunity to respond, write and have music performed in a matter of weeks is a stark contrast from the years it can take from writing a song to releasing on an album. So I’m sure this process has kept my mind from exploding with impatience on countless occasions.

Theatre shows are often put together by people with vision, care and a lot of mutual love and support. I’ve learned a lot about that from them too. Studying sound design and connecting atmosphere to emotion has definitely had an increasing effect on Clock Opera stuff. Along with the new ideas Nic (Nell, who joined CO after we made our last record) brought in, our new album has a huge range of space and mood, which I’m always exploring on these projects outside of the band.

Atelic (From Iatrogenesis for Rambert / Alexander Whitley)

We performed this live at Queen Elizabeth Hall on London Southbank with a string quintet and a load of sample pads. It was our second ever show as a band and absolutely terrifying. Felt massive impostor syndrome but we carried it off and that went a long way to opening my mind to what I could do with music beyond being making records in a band.

Our friends and frequent collaborators Duckeye made an amazing film to follow it up. Alex has since gone on to form his own company doing incredible work.

Atelic from duckeyejey on Vimeo.

The Crossing (from Emerge/ncy by Tangled Feet).

One of hundreds of tracks I’ve made for my longtime collaborators and family TF. Some of their shows reach a lot of people that otherwise don’t come into much contact with the arts, which I feel is really important.

Emergency was based around a large outdoor sculpture that came to life every hour or so, with people bursting out the top of it, arriving somewhere unfamiliar and questioning how we respond to strangers and people coming from elsewhere.

Outro (track from Ways To Forget Deluxe edition, debut CO album)

This began life as music I wrote for a show at the V&A museum for Goddard/Nixon Dance. First performed in amongst a load of ancient and presumably pretty expensive statues, elements of the full 20 minute score became ‘Outro’ on the extended version of our debut album.

My composing has definitely fed into the band and vice versa. Other than providing surges of inspiration, another side-benefit of having more outlets is that more of what I make finds a good home and less is left in hard-drive-in-a-drawer limbo.

Transition 3 (from Off the Grid by Half Moon Theatre)

Some of my favourite pieces come in between the scenes. I’ve learned a lot about underscoring others, providing just enough context and support, leaving as much space as possible for the action. Basically the complete opposite of being a frontman in a band.

Factory Reset (Part 2) (from Factory Reset by Tangled Feet)

A massive outdoor collaboration with aerialists running down buildings, about 30 dancers, a poet, a ton of lights and pyro. I wrote the score and collaborated with Revellers Steel Pan Band, who performed it.

We re-launched Luton Hat Factory by bringing a huge building to life and celebrating the return of a cultural centre in an area more used to arts facilities closing down.

Being Young Is (from Youthquake by Zest Theatre)

A brand-new show currently touring UK until February. Half-TED talk, half-party, giving a voice to Generation Z. These lyrics come verbatim from conversation that Zest had with 800 young people around the UK about what it’s like to grow up now.

My songs are often pretty autobiographical, so I really love being part of things that represent the voices of others.

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Clock Opera's new album 'Carousel' will be released on February 7th. Catch the band at London's Lexington on November 16th.

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