Ilan Eshkeri, surely one of the most versatile composers and musicians currently residing on Earth, is telling me that he doesn’t enjoy multitasking. Or at least, juggling more than one project at once. “I just want to be completely committed to one thing that I’m doing,” he says. Eshkeri is at his home in Camden, North London, on a bitterly cold November day.
It’s perhaps surprising to hear, considering he has worked on one of the biggest variety of projects in a career that I’ve seen personally — blockbuster films like 47 Ronin, indies such as Still Alice, scoring a Burberry fashion show, and then finding time to work with the likes of Annie Lennox, David Gilmour, and KT Tunstall.
“I’ve been finishing up on a film called The White Crow, directed by Ralph Fiennes,” Eshkeri says. “It’s a biopic of Rudolf Nureyev, the story of his defection to the West. And now I’m finishing off a bunch of songs, which I’ve co-written with various people. Then, I’m about to start a computer game - or a video game, as they say in America.”
Born in London, the composer became part of the classical music world by learning the violin as a child, but would later learn guitar, as his love of rock music increased. A love for contemporary classical composers such as Philip Glass and Stockhausen developed, and he worked his way up into the film industry.
“I was very much making people tea at one point,” Eshkeri tells me. However, working with the likes of fellow composer, Michael Kamen, certainly helped set him up for where we find him today. Much more recently, Eshkeri worked on the BBC hit show, Informer, in which a young man’s world is turned on its head when he is coerced into becoming an informer for the police. He tells me about how, these days, he makes sure he only works on projects that are artistically exciting for him, and Informer certainly fell into his artistic bracket.
“It’s the same when I’m working with a band,” Eshkeri explains. “I let them know that I’m going to be bringing something new to the table. If you don’t want someone bringing crazy new ideas in, then don’t hire me!
“Within the context of what we’re creating together, I want to make something that’s creatively satisfying for me. I’m looking for that kind of alignment. The White Crow is about the identity crisis Rudolf Nureyev goes through after he defects to the West, which certainly reflects things I’ve gone through recently. And in Informer, Raza is living a normal life, until he’s coerced into hiding things from his family, and being different things to different people. I think that’s why the programme spoke to me.”