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PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2022 4:55 pm 
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Sharon Horgan on working with PJ Harvey for new ‘Bad Sisters’ theme

1st July 2022 Sharon Horgan has told NME about collaborating with PJ Harvey for her forthcoming Apple TV+ show Bad Sisters – revealing that the iconic singer-songwriter has recorded a version of Leonard Cohen’s 1974 track ‘Who by Fire’ as its theme tune.

Horgan, the acclaimed writer and actor known for creating and starring in the Channel 4 sitcom Catastrophe and BBC comedy Pulling, has adapted the Flemish series Clan for the 10-part series – due to premiere in August.

Having revealed that Harvey had composed the theme tune and co-written its soundtrack in NME’s recent interview with her, now she has provided further details about the team-up. As well as featuring her rendition of ‘Who by Fire’, the dark family drama also sees Harvey open her archive to contribute previously-unheard material.

The idea of reaching out to Harvey, who has previously composed scores for a number of projects including Shane Meadows’ 2019 miniseries The Virtues, first came about while discussing ideas for working with indie musicians on the show with Bad Sisters’ score composer Tim Phillips, whom Horgan had previously worked with on the 2022 Courtney Cox-starring horror-comedy series, Shining Vale. Horgan felt many of Bad Sisters’ themes aligned with touchstones in Harvey’s own music.

“I knew that Polly had started doing scores and I’m just a huge long-term fan,” Horgan told NME. “I figured if we had Tim as co-composer, then she might be able to find some time for us, so on the off-chance, I got her email and sent her a sort of love-letter – which is how you do it. I sent her the script and some images from our first few days of filming to give her an idea of what it was about.”

“A lot of the themes of the show – there’s a lot of death and revenge in there – felt like the kind of subject matter Polly writes about anyway.”

After the initial email, they connected via Zoom. “One of the things I’d been thinking of was to do a cover of ‘Who by Fire’ by Leonard Cohen and I thought Polly would do the most amazing version of that,” Horgan revealed. “It lists all these different deaths in the song, which people will understand when they finally see Bad Sisters.

“I pitched her that and then some of the stuff I’d been thinking about for the show. I love Bulgarian choir/folk music that Kate Bush had used on her [1989] album ‘The Sensual World’, and when I mentioned that, she [PJ] was like: ‘Yeah, well I used to be in a Bulgarian choir!’ I also liked the idea of having murder ballads in the show, and she’s done that before.”

Fans of Harvey will doubtless be excited about the prospect of hearing new tracks, unearthed from her vaults, in the show. Horgan said: “Polly sent me a folder of songs which she called her ‘Orphans’ because they were wonderful songs that she’d written but hadn’t found a place for.

“It had always made her sad, and when she heard about the themes of the show, she said: ‘This is strange because some of these songs are eerily on-point’. And they were – we’ve used some of them wholesale. It was mad how it all lined up.”

Set in Dublin and London, Bad Sisters follows the lives of the five Garvey sisters, who are bound together by the premature death of their parents and a pledge to always protect each other. Described as a “delicious blend of both dark comedy and thriller”, the show stars (and is also executive produced and written) by Horgan, alongside a stellar cast including Anne-Marie Duff (The Salisbury Poisonings), Eva Birthistle (Brooklyn), Sarah Greene (Dublin Murders) and Eve Hewson (The Luminaries).

Harvey was in the throes of writing her 10th studio album at the time of her Bad Sisters co-composing stint, so Phillips devised a novel method to accommodate her schedule.

“He created what he called a Pollytron, and it was just a day in the studio where he captured all these crazy vocal whoops and tics and bits of poetry and anything they came up with together that they felt fitted the show, and he put it into this sampler, which he called the Pollytron” said Horgan. “That’s how we were able to do it and it allowed Tim to be on the ground with it day-to-day.”

Recalling listening to Harvey’s take on Cohen’s ‘Who by Fire’ for the first time, Horgan said: “It was absolutely nerve-wracking because you never know, do you? You know deep down [that it will be good] but also, you’re like: ‘I don’t want to have to give notes to PJ Harvey!’.

“Luckily, it wasn’t like that at all. It was a real relief that it worked so well. Her voice is beautiful and perfect on it, and I hope people love it as much as I do.”

As well as preparing to unveil Bad Sisters, Horgan also recently starred in the meta action-comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, where she plays Olivia – the ex-wife of Nicolas Cage (portraying a wildly exaggerated version of himself).

Horgan discussed the surreal experience of working with the actor in our recent interview, as well as detailing an unusual encounter with Liam Gallagher where he praised her BBC comedy Motherland.

Harvey meanwhile, recently revealed that she was “very pleased” with her long-awaited new album – and that the long-awaited follow-up to 2016’s ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’ would be out next summer.

https://www.nme.com/news/music/sharon-horgan-pjharvey-leonard-cohen-who-by-fire-bad-sisters-orphan-songs-3260371


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2022 6:12 pm 
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Thank you, BobSimms! I'm very much looking forward to the series now!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2022 10:35 am 
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Two questions:
1) When was Polly in a Bulgarian choir?
2) Can I have a Pollytron please?!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2022 7:37 am 
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Lots of good news here!
Can't wait to hear her orphans!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2022 3:59 pm 
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bruise wrote:
Lots of good news here!
Can't wait to hear her orphans!


Same here! I hope it’ll be like The Virtues and get a proper soundtrack release with all her contributions. The kicker here, is it sounds like her music will go back further in time than her work for the aforementioned. To me, this is just as heartening as the news of the new album coming next year.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2022 4:47 pm 
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This reminds me of that interview with Miranda Sawyer a couple years ago when they were discussing her unreleased material and Miranda said something along the lines of "I worry about your orphan songs!" and Polly was like, "Oh don't worry, they'll find their light".

And they did!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2022 7:42 pm 
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The trailer's here but it's soundtracked by a Brandi Carlisle song and not Polly's Cohen cover so I guess we'll have to wait to hear it until the show premieres next month:



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2022 11:11 pm 
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PJ Harvey & Tim Phillips - Who by Fire (Leonard Cohen Cover)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPY_MqCfMqE


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2022 9:56 am 
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https://pitchfork.com/news/pj-harvey-co ... re-listen/

https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/pj-harvey- ... o-by-fire/


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2022 12:56 pm 
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Polly's is OK but doesn't compare with an exquisite The House Of Love version from an excellent vintage Cohen tribute album:

https://youtu.be/KGUEPsx6Iks

I guess hers is very geared around the needs of the show, very little of the instrumentation, arrangement and production is credited to her


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2022 3:43 pm 
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I recognized her guitar at the end right away, but I agree nothing else about seems very PJH, not even her main vocal! But I never expected much from this cover (and I don’t think I’ll revisit it more than once) and I’m not a LC fan. It’s the “orphan” songs of Polly’s that will be the biggest treat here.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2022 5:03 pm 
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I quite like her vocals and her delivery (and I'm a fan of the original). Tim Phillips's arrangement is a bit too much 'prestige TV show theme tune' for my liking but... that's what it is, isn't it?

Would love to hear Polly's demo for this!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2022 10:10 pm 
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i've listened to her cover many times now, confronting it to the original, and my final verdict is positive. Now, yes, there's something a bit off: the feeling of it. What i enjoy the most of the original is the almost "medieval" sound it has(the acoustic guitar use may have a role in it), which unfortunately is not present in this cover. YET, her vocals are FAR superior to the original (common thing among PJ's covers, for ex. "shot of love" by Bob Dylan); regarding the 'it doesn't seem like PJ Harvey' issue i strongly disagree: the backing vocals and the guitar at the end are as much "Polliesque" as you can get. I would like to hear PJ's original demo too.
Currently i'm looking forward to the "orphans", hoping that their use in the series could bring them in a Compact Disk or at least vinyl published version. See you, folks.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2022 7:04 pm 
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The two first episodes of the series that are out are very good, FWIW. Sharp writing, alternating between witty and serious, and great dynamics between the main characters. I was not familiar with Sharon Horgan's work before but she's very charismatic on screen. Recommended!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2022 8:16 pm 
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Thanks to an acquaintance of mine( since i do not own an Apple+ subscription), i managed to watch the first three episodes( in Italian). Honestly, it's not my cup of tea, furthermore, with my huge disappointment, those episodes do not contain any PJ's songs ( except for the Cohen cover). I mean, there are some interesting characters, but for me it was a struggle to finish watching them .
i'll still try with the next ones, though: i'm way too curious for those "orphans" to let myself down. Fingers crossed.


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