What drew you to create a new score for “Amélie” — romantic comedy turned musical?“Amélie” struck me as the perfect story to be told through song.We stayed friends into our adulthood, when we were both in a position to finally take on such a huge project.” Messé first made headlines with eclectic Americana music from his band, Hem, which has drawn a following for its ethereal sound and poetic lyrics.But raised on his mother’s vast collection of show tunes, his trajectory to a first Broadway production feels organic, with milestone detours along the way.The pace is crazy fast, and there isn’t any illusion that you are in control of anything. Sometimes they make their own videos using our tracks, such as this one for “Peace At Last.” You sometimes move your body while your fingers dance on the keys. I just find the physical expression of music to be a whole separate dimension of what music can do — and what can be done to music. Tall Steve Curtis played on a number of developmental workshops, which helped define how we use guitar in the show.All you can do is do your best and hold on for dear life. Also, when Nathan [Tysen] and I were just getting started on the score for “Amélie,” we would bring our embryonic material to a songwriting group, which included Tall Steve and Dawn Landes, our harmony vocalist and glockenspiel player.There is something very satisfying working on a single song, after such a long time focusing on such a large, collaborative project.To be able to sit down at the piano and write a song from start to finish by myself feels like a luxury.
You often have 24 hours to write a new song in order to try it out in front of an audience. I used to do a lot of collaborations with dancers, writing music for their performances. Hem hasn’t performed since 2015, though they have been instrumental in helping me develop “Amélie.” George Rush, our bass player actually performs in the pit orchestra, and Gary Maurer co-produced the cast album with me.
Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up “Amélie” is an adaption of the fanciful 2001 French film by acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
The Broadway show, which closes on May 21, features music by Messé with lyrics he co-wrote with Nathan Tysen (“Tuck Everlasting”).
In the end, what might have begun as “your baby” becomes a “venn diagram” of all the people who worked on it, and over time, those people become a sort of family.
What excites me about “Amélie” in particular is that I got to explore some of my favorite themes in a long-form piece, really diving in deep to ideas having to do with isolation, and how important it is to be connected to other people in order to live fully.