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Interview: Composer Christian Lundberg Talks Around the World in 80 Days

ComingSoon had the opportunity to speak with composer Christian Lundberg about his score for the television adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. Lundberg previously composed the scores for TV shows Dogs of War, Insomnia, Snatch, and The First 48.

“Gentleman adventurer Phileas Fogg sets out on a quest to travel around the world and back home in a period of 80 days,” reads the synopsis. The series, commissioned by the European Alliance and RAI of Italy, Masterpiece (U.S.) and Be-Films/RTBF (Belgium), stars David Tennant, Ibrahim Koa, and Leonie Branch. The drama is available to stream now on select streaming channels.

ComingSoon’s Jeff Ames spoke with Lundberg about his work as a composer, what he found inspiring about the TV series, and more.

Jeff Ames: What led you to become a composer?

Christian Lundberg: I think the short answer is l love how music can make you feel, in any style really. It can change someone’s mood; it can help you when you are down. That is incredibly powerful. When you are composing for film or TV, it’s like two forces combined and they feed off of each other. You have the power to help steer the emotion based on what the director wants to achieve.

What was it about Around the World in 80 Days that made you want to work on it?

That list is long … It’s a very popular tale because the book is so inspiring. The script of this contemporary version is so well written, it has it all: adventure, love, lost love, action and above all perseverance, all combined in a cinematically very powerful and elegant way. I was also very fortunate that the directors and producers wanted the music to have a lot of character, in a sense be one of the characters in the show. I was allowed to be bold and loud which is always fun.

What was the most challenging aspect of Around the World in 80 Days and how did you overcome that?

This is a case where a very challenging aspect of the work turned out to be the most fun. Working to find the “London Tone” within the score that would follow our main characters around the world. After we locked that in, we needed to find the balance between the core tone and the location-based sounds that were ever-changing. Injecting the right amount of these sounds was key. For instance, dobro, and banjo in the Wild West (Episode 7), and Oud and ethnic percussion like the Darbuka and Deep Daf in Yemen (Episode 3).

Do you have any fun, behind-the-scenes stories about the making of Around the World in 80 Days?

Hmm, well I did a rendition of the musical piece “Hall Of The Mountain King” for a scene in Episode 5. We had tried to use one of my original themes but we couldn’t get it to work. So we decided to spice up this classic that everyone knows … give it the 80 days sound. While I was doing that my oldest daughter Ellie (seven years old) had come in the studio as she often does throughout the day. She heard what I was doing and then told her piano teacher she wanted to learn it without telling me. This is what she performed at the recital. Proud daddy for sure.

What were some of the things you learned from Around the World in 80 Days that you’re excited to apply to future endeavors?

I think any time you get a chance to work on a project of this caliber there are so many things that stick with you. Because this story stretches all over the world, myself and my assistant did a lot of research on which instruments would be played where at that time. I tried to be location and period-accurate in the instrumentation I used in addition to our “London Tone” that was, of course, always present as well. I acquired a bunch of ethnic instruments that I would either record during the writing process or we would sample them for me to use in the midi world when working on the themes.

Do you have any other projects coming up that you can share with us?

I’m currently working on a couple of different projects for Bleeding Fingers Music but nothing I can share just yet.