Protecting the environment with intelligence

Composing the soundtracks of environmental crime

When not overseeing EIA’s library of somewhere in the region of 30,000 images and about 5,000 mini DV tapes of footage (which equates to about 300,000 hours of footage), or keeping tabs on all the various undercover cameras and other pieces of kit, I sometimes get the chance to indulge a more creative side.

I must have been about 17 or 18 when I was first truly inspired by music; a friend was playing guitar and singing, and it just did something to me. For a moment I wasn’t even in the room anymore – I just had this intense ‘wow!’ moment and I knew than that I needed to make music myself.

Shortly after, I picked up a guitar and practiced anything from eight to 12 hours a day. It wasn’t a chore because I just couldn’t put it down, I loved escaping into it that much. Then some friends and I started playing small gigs in my home town in Somerset and it began to go from there.

I was going to college at the time, but I wanted to do music far more; everybody around me said ‘don’t’ but I didn’t listen and left college, after which I went to Bournemouth and we formed a band there. When you play on stage there’s this awesome feeling that comes from seeing other people experiencing what I first experienced, and to see them get caught up in it is amazing.

At about the same time, my friend Paul Redman, now EIA’s visual specialist, started making movies with his own outfit Handcrafted Films and he asked me to do some music for him, for a project which ended up becoming 5×5, which also involved EIA.

I’d never written anything like that before and so I decided to give it a go. Paul was quite pleased with the results and I was happy with it. After that, just because people saw the films they started asking me for more original work and it went from there.

It’s necessary to portray the emotions of the film, to be able to mould the film into something so that both the music and images work together and pull in the same direction.

I’ve done lots of music for EIA since about 2006, little bits here and there as well as longer work on various campaign films. When a job with EIA became available, I was fortunate enough to be taken on, which is very nice because I get more opportunities to involve myself in the music side of things – if a chance comes up, I love to write material to go with our films.

Writing music for EIA is very different to what I usually write because when the films are being made I’ll be asked to come up with something that touches upon specific emotions; when I write for myself it just comes out but for EIA the process is a lot more methodical, more of a step-by-step process, playing with a piece until I’m happy with it before bouncing it off others to see if they’re happy with it and ensure that it’s doing what it’s meant to do.

Perhaps inevitably, people want to know what influences are at play, and I suppose the biggest influences on me are Pink Floyd, Philip Glass, Ronni Size, Photek and Soundgarden.

That said, I never try to make my music sound like anything else. When I write, I feel it inside – it’s just something that comes over me I have to let it out.

Jamie Elkins
Visuals and Equipment Coordinator

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