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Icelandic music and the adventures of an Irish puffling

By Sara McMahon

  • Einar Tönsberg composes the music for a new Irish animated television series called Puffin Rock. Photo/Björn Árnason

Icelandic musician Einar Tönsberg, of the bands Feldberg and Eberg, composes the music for Puffin Rock, a new, Irish animated TV series broadcast on Nick Jr. UK and RTÉ. Einar was the only member of the production team who had ever seen a real puffin.

 

Icelandic musician Einar Tönsberg composes the music for a new animated television series entitled Puffin Rock. The series features narration by Irish actor Chris O’Dowd and will be broadcast on Nick Jr. UK and RTÉ (the Irish National Broadcasting Service).
Puffin Rock follows the adventures of a family of puffins living on a small island off the coast of Ireland. The story revolves around Oona, a young puffin who spends her days exploring the island with her little brother Baba. The show is co-produced by Oscar nominated Irish animation studio, Cartoon Saloon, Penguin publishing and Northern Irish children’s media company Dog Ears. The TV series will feature 39 seven-minute episodes and Penguin will produce books and other products to accompany it.

Einar is a popular musician in Iceland who in 2010, was awarded the Icelandic Music Awards for Best Song for the song Dreamin’ with his band Feldberg.  He also performs solo under the alias Eberg.
The musician has composed soundtracks for Icelandic television shows such as “Hæ Gosi” and “Pressa” but this is his first time composing music for a children’s TV series.

First thing first: How did this come about?
“My record label Small Town America is connected to the project and they asked me to adapt one of my band’s songs for the show’s trailer. Later, when the project had been fully funded, they contacted me again and asked me to compose the music for the series. I’ve now committed to the project for the next year. It has been very demanding work but great fun.”

How was this different to composing your own music?
“Not very different. The process is the same although the target audience is not. My four-year-old daughter was great help. She critiqued the songs and I dumped the ones she didn’t like. The first challenge was finding a theme-song and making different versions of it.”

The series follows the adventures of a young puffin – did the fact that you are from Iceland, home to the world’s largest puffin population, help in any way?
“I’m not sure. Maybe.” He adds: “The funny thing is, I was the only member of the production team who had laid eyes on a puffin. My parents-in-law live in the Westman Islands, where over two million puffins have their burrows. When I told my colleagues that my daughter had captured a lost puffling with the help of her grandparents, fed it and then brought it back to sea, no-one believed me. But it’s the honest truth,” he says, punctuating the sentence with a laugh.

Recording took place in the BBC studio in Belfast with a Northern-Irish orchestra. How did that go?
“It went really well. I worked closely with orchestrator Graeme Stewart who did a great job with his arrangements. And the BBC facilities and the Ulster Orchestra were absolutely fantastic!”

Did you spend much time in Northern Ireland while working on the project?
“I was there for a week or so. Northern Ireland is a wonderful place. It all seems so familiar to an Icelander, both the landscape and the atmosphere. The people are very similar to us, which might not come as a surprise because we have much of their DNA. I spent most of my time in Derry, which is a town about the size of Reykjavík, so I felt very much at home there.”

Are you optimistic about the project? Do you think it will turn out to be the next big thing on children’s TV?
“I’m sure of it. The story itself is great and my daughter loves it, especially after they added colour and motion to the drawings and characters,” he concludes. 

 

 
 

FELDBERG - Dreamin' - LIVE on Icelandic TV -, by traktorinn

 

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