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Jersey musician works with celebrated illustrator to fund surgeons in Ukraine

Jersey musician works with celebrated illustrator to fund surgeons in Ukraine

Friday 17 March 2023

Jersey musician works with celebrated illustrator to fund surgeons in Ukraine

Friday 17 March 2023


A musician from Jersey has teamed up with the former Children's Laureate - and current collaborator with Phoebe Bridgers - to release a song about the human impact of the war in Ukraine to raise money for surgeons in the battle-scarred country.

Jersey-born Sam Falle, who makes music under the moniker ‘Winterfalle’, has announced the release of his newest song ‘Snowdrops’.

Snowdrops takes its lyrics from a poem about the human impact of the war in Ukraine written by Chris Riddell.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Chris Riddell (@chris_riddell)

As well as being the former Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell also co-wrote and illustrated popular children’s fantasy novel series, The Edge Chronicles.

He also known for his work as an illustrator and political cartoonist for the Observer, and has created iconic imagery for celebrities including Neil Gaiman and Phoebe Bridgers. 

In recent years, Chris has expanded his work to include poetry.

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Pictured: Fans of Phoebe Bridgers will recognise Chris Riddell's illustrations, which were used as the backdrop for her most recent tour.

The collaboration between Sam and Chris began last year, when Chris was live-illustrating performances at a folk music festival where Sam was playing. 

Chris then took to the stage and read his Snowdrops poem.

"It was such a powerful piece," said Sam. "It hit me really hard how well he had captured the human impact of the war."

Chris suggested that one of the musicians at the festival might want to set the poem to music, and Sam couldn’t resist taking him up on the offer.

However, Sam described the process of adapting Chris’ poem into a song as "difficult".

"You have a responsibility as a writer to bring justice to the words," he explained. "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."

Sam added: "I wanted the poem to remain at the forefront of the song, with the music there to help the words travel rather than turning them into something else."

Sam developed the arrangement for the song with Jersey-based South African producer, Nic Dinnie. 

Sam and his band then 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.

"I initially approached Brett due to his work with Florence + The Machine," explained Sam. "I knew Brett had produced songs with Florence that originally started out as poetry, so he had experience in this area."

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Pictured: Illustrations by Chris drawn live during a Winterfalle performance.

There are also two short films, due to be released over the coming weeks, which accompany the song.

"We always wanted to bring a visual dimension to the project," explained Sam, which resulted in a further collaboration with Jersey-born filmmaker Todd Macdonald.

Todd 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.

Varta also filmed her rail journeys across the country, and has contributed the footage to the film.

The second film is a live performance of the song shot in Brighton, with Sam performing Snowdrops alongside cellist Dom Main, whilst Chris 'live illustrates' to the music.

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Pictured: Sam performing Snowdrops alongside cellist, Dom Main.

The 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 Chris will go to the David Notts Foundation, which trains surgeons in Ukraine.

"The poem and the song speak about the human impact of the war, so this felt like an appropriate charity to support," explained Sam.

"They have an amazing impact on people; their work really does save lives."

There are also hopes to stage a collaborative performance with Winterfalle and Chris in Jersey this September as, although Sam is now based in London, he explained that his music is still "very much inspired by home".

In fact, the Winterfalle band also features two other Jerseymen: Todd MacDonald on backing vocals and electric guitar, and Jack Chown on percussion.

Sam 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’ poem continue to resonate as they did a year ago. In an ideal world, this would all be over by now."

"We just hope that our project can help raise much-needed funds and awareness," he added.

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