WITH THE UK ENTRY TO THE WORLD’S BIGGEST SONG CONTEST EVENT THIS YEAR OPEN TO SUBMISSIONS, MR PEACH THOUGHT THE TIME MIGHT BE RIGHT TO SHOOT FOR THE SHORTLIST FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY.
If the biggest annual media event in Europe tends not to flicker the cultural barometer of the British music press, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its fans – many thousands of them, in fact. For the Eurovision Song Contest hasn’t simply survived the last sixty years against all the cultural odds, it seems to be gaining an audience – viewing figures all but reached 200million across the continent this year as Mans Zelmerlow won the trophy for Stockholm, continuing the upward trend of the last five years. But is there a formula for winning this enormous audience’s heart – and does the bloke from Momo think he has it?
“The only formula you can hope to follow in writing a three-minute song for Eurovision is to make sure that song stands entirely on its own two feet” says Timo Peach, “creative conviction is your one qualification in the end.”
With some mystery surrounding the UK’s process for choosing its reps in recent years, it was interesting then to discover the 2016 British act would be found in an open submission from the public.
“Yes,” says Mr Peach. “Funnily, I’d just emailed a chap from the Beeb whose name I’d tracked down in the summer to ask about how to step up to the plate for the ol’ Royaume Uni and he replied that they were about to announce a big contest to find The One, culminating in a shortlist formed with help from the biggest Eurovision fanclub in the world, the OGAE, as well as the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors which has showcased the competition to its members. So I watched the press and got writing.”
And how do you write a Eurovision hit?
“By being yourself, I think. Or at least, understanding that a song and an act cobbled together with some sort of ‘strategy’ in mind will look obviously not the real deal. So I’ve simply fired up the Momo machine and cranked it to Full Pop. Full Pop and be damned, I say.”
The song that Momo:tempo is showcasing is a typical production for Mr Peach’s style, with lush brass and string arrangements – thanks to faithful Momo maestros Pat Hayes and Pete Whitfield respectively – as well as guest appearances from Ben Taylor on upright bass and Martin Rice on lead guitar.
“Rescue is the full Momo, yes,” says Timo, “but condensed into this wham-bam three minute rule. Writing for three minutes dead is a challenge but a fair one for pop – you just have to find a way to tell a story with authentic conviction without it feeling contrived. A toughie. In the end, Rescue won me over for it’s big riff and energetic sassiness, coupled with some odd little kernel of sincerity touching home in the middle of it. It would be a belter to get to share at the shortlist.”
The process involved sending video evidence of the performance and song.
“They wanted to see you do it, essentially” Mr Peach explains. “The production of both song and film didn’t have to be pro as such, just a convincing example of how the song and performer could work. So I returned from a week in the Gulf on other creative business and negotiated an hour in Thinking Juice Advertising’s down-at-heel garage on a wet Sunday afternoon to shoot a guerilla proof of performance for the song with Ben, Martin and also Mark on drums. The things we do.”
A video masterminded on the hoof and subsequently edited overnight by filmmaker and chum Graham Wood. “Graham and I have shared an avante garde stage nearly two decades ago, by total coincidence; but we only actually met a few years back through Martin. Graham just calmly jumped into the no-frills, low-tech shoot and grabbed the spirit of it marvelously. Yes, I’m looking the usual daft booby, but the energy in the edit he then pulled together is great great fun. We love it.”
But Timo found himself bringing a little something else to the performance.
“A dirty great plaster on my head,” he says flatly, raising the appropriate eyebrow. “A week before, I’d been out on the Solent in a boat with chums and had the unluckiest of daft marine accidents, and the luckiest of escapes – I was hit by the boom” he grimmaces. “Something that can easily be fatal. Somehow I didn’t go into the drink and my thick head only needed gluing together in a bit of a dash to Lymington hospital. But I was fine. You can’t see in the film, sadly, but I painted a Union flag on it. Hoped it might catch on.”
Here’s hoping the song catches on with those looking for Britain’s 2016 Eurovision representitive. Perhaps it’s time to rescue the prize.