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Anna
CalviPeaky Blinders:
Season 5 & 6 Original Score

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Anthony Byrne
Music Supervisor, Executive Producer, Musical Arranger

Imogen Harrison
Post Production Producer

Nigel Heath
Sound Mixer
Special thanks to Paul Knight, Amelia Hartley, Caryn Mandabach, Jamie Glazebrook

I remember the first scene I worked on for Peaky Blinders. At this point I didn’t know I would go on to compose the whole series. Tommy was talking to Arthur, whilst standing in a windswept field full of caravans. The scene was so cinematic. I improvised with my guitar whilst the picture was playing. I instantly felt my guitar becoming the voice of Tommy. It was a magical feeling. I try to think of my own music cinematically, and now finally there was an image to go with the music in my head.

There’s so much nuance when it comes to scoring to picture. It’s more about what you leave out than what you leave in.

I became completely obsessed with Tommy. I dreamt about him every night. I loved to inhabit his inner world, and imagine that my music was his inner monologue.

I loved scoring Tommy with my voice too, because I loved the idea of his unconscious being female.

On series 5 I ended up playing a lot of the instruments on the soundtrack. This meant I had to play instruments I wasn’t as comfortable playing, like the violin, piano and percussion. But when you’re going purely for emotion, technique is less important. This was a good lesson for me.

There is a duality to the show, of beauty and brutality, which I had been exploring in my own music.

I’m fascinated by the manipulation of emotions with sound. It’s so mysterious to me. I really tried to explore this on Peaky blinders. Sometimes putting the opposite music than you would expect on a scene had the most impact.

I’m really grateful to Anthony the director for asking me to be part of such an iconic series. To be asked back for season 6 was a real honour.

For season 6 I wanted to bring more musicians on board because I didn’t want to repeat myself, and I wanted to find a new musical voice for Tommy.

The first scene I did for season 6 was the opening scene, set in Miquelon. Anthony the director talked about wanting something inspired by Ennio Morricone. I wrote a guitar piece with a choir but in the end the scene was so much stronger with just the guitar. Less is always more when scoring to an image.

We faced several challenges on the score for season 6 as it was during the coronavirus pandemic, and I was also late into the pregnancy of my first child. The combination of such intense work whilst being heavily pregnant was challenging. I didn’t want it to be seen as affecting my work. Yet at the same time it felt strange to believe, because of the pressures of our society, that I should hide any difficulty I was having. I felt aware that I can’t be the first pregnant person to be conflicted in this way.

I decided to bring in Nick Launay to work with me on season 6. Nick is an incredible producer who produced my last album Hunter. I knew that if I could trust anyone to create this music with me it would be Nick. We got together a wish list of amazing musicians, and recorded for a week. Due to covid we had to live together during this initial recording process. It was intense but it meant there was camaraderie in the group.

We faced several challenges on the score for season 6 as it was during the coronavirus pandemic, and I was also late into the pregnancy of my first child. The combination of such intense work whilst being heavily pregnant was challenging.

I didn’t want it to be seen as affecting my work. Yet at the same time it felt strange to believe, because of the pressures of our society, that I should hide any difficulty I was having. I felt aware that I can’t be the first pregnant person to be conflicted in this way.

I decided to bring in Nick Launay to work with me on season 6. Nick is an incredible producer who produced my last album Hunter. I knew that if I could trust anyone to create this music with me it would be Nick.

We got together a wish list of amazing musicians, and recorded for a week. Due to covid we had to live together during this initial recording process. It was intense but it meant there was camaraderie in the group.

Nick and I then took away the recordings and continued working on the score.

I remember the night before giving birth to Elio, still writing and singing, balancing my guitar precariously on my stomach, until 3am. I don’t think I have ever experienced such an intense and eventful few months.

I got incredibly attached to the characters on Peaky Blinders. As well as Tommy I was especially attached to the female characters, like Polly Shelby. I wanted to do the best by these characters, I wanted to give them the most amazing music I possibly could write, as a homage to them.

When the acting is as good as it is on Peaky Blinders, your job as a composer feels like such a light touch because the actors express such an intensity of emotion.

There are some really inspiring female composers doing amazing work right now. It feels like the film/tv industry is slowly changing from being originally very male oriented. I’m so proud of my scores for Peaky Blinders and I would love for this work to be a signpost for future generations of female composers.

Getting back to composing after the birth of Elio 6 weeks later was intense. I was breastfeeding with one hand and composing on the piano with my other hand. I would wake in the night to feed my son and then stay up composing music to send music off to Nick who was based in LA.

What I learnt most from writing for Peaky Blinders is to trust my instincts. I realised I shouldn’t be afraid of simplicity, and I shouldn’t assume that if something happens quickly, that the quality is compromised. This whole experience was so wonderful and so intense. I’m so excited to do more composing work.

Anna Calvi's Peaky Blinders Seasons 5 & 6 Original Score will be released on 26th January 2024.

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Season 5
Music by Anna Calvi

Written by Anna Calvi (Domino Publishing Company Ltd)

Produced by Anna Calvi
Mixed by Jimmy Robertson
Recorded at Anna’s home and Bruce Grove Studio
Mastered by Barry Grint at AIR Studios

Anna Calvi – vocals, guitar, violin, piano, percussion, harmonium
Ben Christophers – harmonium, phono fiddle, sarangi
Ben Ellis – bass
Alex Thomas – drums, modular synth
Emma Smith – violin

Artwork illustrations by Karl Fitzgerald
Design by Matthew Cooper


Season 6
Music by Anna Calvi & Nick Launay

Written by Anna Calvi & Nick Launay (Domino Publishing Company Ltd)
except ‘Ain’t No Grave’, written by Anna Calvi and Trad/Arr (Domino Publishing Company Ltd), ‘Red Right Hand’, written by Michael John Harvey (Mute Song Ltd), Thomas Wylder (Mute Song Ltd) & Nicholas Edward Cave (BMG Rights Management Ltd)

Produced by Anna Calvi & Nick Launay
Recorded and mixed by Nick Launay
Recorded at Konk Studios London, assisted by George Chung
Additional recording by Jimmy Robertson
Additional editing by Jason Tregoe Newman
Mastered by Barry Grint at AIR Studios

Anna Calvi – guitar, vocals, keyboards, bass
Nick Launay – programming, keys, pedals
Anton Pearson – guitar, pedals
Leo Abrahams – guitar
Larry Mullins – drums, percussion
Miles Jay – bass, guitar, double bass, string arrangements
Maddie Cutter – cello
John Baggott – keyboards
Fabrice Martinez – violin
Nick Zinner – guitar, electronics
Ming Vauz – guitar, bass and ambient synthesiser

 

 

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