Award winning composer Ilan Eshkeri is touring with his out of this world show Space Station Earth.
Space Station Earth is a music-led, multi-media experience that allows the audience to see through the eyes of astronauts and to contemplate our planet, the stars, and the exploration of the universe. Featuring no dialogue or narration, audiences can expect to lose themselves in the extraordinary visuals and emotionally charged music and leave filled with awe and wonder. We got to chat to Ilan about all this space
1. Thanks for your time Ilan, your Space Station Earth album is out in May, what can you tell us about it?
This is an album I have dreamt of making since I was a kid. Its about Space, it uses classic synths from the 80s and I get to play a gibson flying V on it. I made the album with a lot of joy but it is also a serious and emotive piece of work that I hope touches people in the way that some of my other work has connected with people over the years.
2. Along with the album, you’ve collaborated with the European Space Agency. How did that come about and how receptive were they to your ideas?
ESA have been incredibly supportive of the project and went as far as giving me access to film rocket launches and take part on a zero gravity flight. I have TIm Peake to thank for all of this, he contacted me a few months before he launched into space as he was a fan of my work and wanted to use some of my music on the films he was making aboard the space station. He invited me to visit him at NASA where he was training and I was so inspired by the trip and what I heard from the astronauts I met that Space Station Earth was born.
3. Before you approached them, what was the thought process behind getting them involved?
The entire project was inspired by Tim Peake and ESA, they have been my much appreciated partners and supporters the whole way through the process.
4. You’re taking the concert out on tour in May, how challenging has it been putting the concert together and what can we expect from the experience?
Putting together a project on this scale is always a challenge but its been a particular challenge to direct all the visual content, as directing films is not something I have ever done before. The show is performed by a synth band accompanied by strings, brass and choir. The backdrop of 24 metres of visuals for the show gives the audience the opportunity to see through the eyes of an astronaut, all the astronauts wherever they are from share a unique experience, some say even a shift in consciousness Being off our planet and looking down upon it changes your perspective in a much greater way than you would ever imagine. I wanted to try and express this experience as much as possible through music and the audience will walk away with this sense.
5. During the project and into the tour, you’ve worked with Tim Peake. What did you learn from that experience?
I remember having dinner with Tim and his wife Rebecca and they were telling me about how, when one of the astronauts called home, their partner would show them all the things that needed to be fixed in the house when they got back and another astronaut got in trouble for calling when they were rushing out the door for the school run. So what I learnt was no matter how amazing and cool your job is ordinary life continues and is there to ground you.
6. Have you discussed working together again in the future?
No but Tim if you are reading this what would you like to do next?!
7. Going back to the beginning now. When did you first become interested in space and what was it that got your interest?
Being a young kid in the 80s I grew up with some of the greatest science fiction, Star Wars, Star Trek and many more, I also lived through the space shuttle years. So my interest in space, art and reality was huge and it excited and inspired me in those early years. It seems like only in the last few years that excitement about space (perhaps driven largely by space tourism programmes) has brought this interest back to the mainstream
8. Going forward following the tour, what are your plans for the future?
Space Station Earth is going to come back to the UK and we are also talking about taking it on tour to other places in the world so watch this space.
9. Just for fun, if you could go to live on another planet, which three items from earth couldn’t you live without?
Just one, a kindle with a vast library of books as I love to read
10. Thanks for your time, just to finish. From working with ESA, Tim Peake and other astronauts, what is the one surprising fact you’ve learned about space that you didn’t know before?
A space walk is particularly terrifying for several reasons, but not least because its travelling at 17,500 miles an hour and if you become separated from it even by just a few metres you would affectively be travelling on an inside or outside lane in a different orbit at a different speed and your chances of ever getting back would be virtually non existent!
The Royal Albert Hall event in 15th May will open with a pre-show Q&A featuring Ilan Eshkeri and special guest Tim Peake. Tickets for the show are available here.