Glen Ballard Interview: ‘The Eddy’ songwriter
Netflix’s “The Eddy” was a long time coming for Grammy winner Glen Ballard. The songwriter had been a fan of jazz from a very early age, spending his formative years in New Orleans, and while he is primarily known for penning pop music, “The Eddy” gave him the opportunity to show his passion for jazz. This being a series centered on a Parisian jazz club, Ballard felt especially qualified to recreate experiences from his life. “I’ve lived in and out of Paris most of my adult life,” Ballard says in an exclusive new interview with Gold Derby. “I’ve spent so much time there so I always knew that jazz never died in the city of Paris. When I was living there in the ‘90s I would go to jazz clubs every week.” Watch the full video interview with Ballard above.
Ballard developed the series through his production company Augury, meeting a New Orleans trumpet player named Christian Scott in 2008 and writing songs with him. He then formed a jazz band called The Eddy and brought the idea for the series to producer Alan Poul in 2013, who got director Damien Chazelle onboard a year later. Ballard wrote the songs for “The Eddy” with Randy Kerber, who also has a supporting role in the series as the pianist for the house band. “To write this kind of densely harmonic, chromatic music, a lot of times I’d get it started and then he finishes it,” Ballard describes, of his collaboration with Kerber. “His sense of music is so rich and deep.”
One of the key songs written for the series is the title track, “The Eddy.” The evocative track features hypnotic vocals from Joanna Kulig as she describes being “lost in a dance and caught in a trance.” As Ballard explains, the song is “a kind of noir-ish, deep indigo kind of mood that I wanted to create. For me, the music had to be complex, rich and in some ways ambiguous.” He adds that the ambiguous chords represent “this place that you go to discover things about yourself. I’ve often found that the right piece of music can help you do that.” The Eddy club becomes this almost mystical place where characters are able to “resolve some issues that you might not be able to resolve some other place.”
Ballard likens live jazz music to a kind of “closeup magic” and is hopeful that viewers will feel inspired to attend clubs like the one featured in “The Eddy.” “I hope they have a little more respect for the musicians and what it costs to make jazz music and to understand that people who are dedicated to it are some of the purest artists alive today,” Ballard states, “because they don’t do it for fame, they don’t do it for money, they do it because they need to do it and they have a passion for it.”