The third interview in a series of short interviews with the creative team behind An Unexpected Family.


Where did you find inspiration for the music for the film and what were some of the challenges you faced?

Riyad originally approached me with the idea of using African style blues for the score for the documentary. His thinking was that it reflected both the harsh realities as well as the joy in the slum. We listened to quite a bit of Ali Farka Toure, the seminal guitarist in this style, who I had previously listened to quite often. Solo or sparsely accompanied guitar seemed to reflect the harsh realities but also the warmth and heart of the story. After some research I found the I, IV, V (a common chord progression) extremely prevalent in a lot of traditional African music. I used this to reflect the more positive/celebratory aspects of the documentary.

The music itself was fairly straightforward to write because guitar is my first instrument. The challenging part was how to reinforce the story without it becoming too imposing or steering the audience. One of Riyad’s goals was to make the documentary as honest as possible without hammering the audience with a message. This may seem like an oxymoron but often there are documentaries that are “overhyped” or very obvious in their message.


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