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A trip down memory lane

For Musical Director Kris Spiteri the Maltese classic Down by the Water takes him back to nightlife hub Paceville in the 1990s. He shares some insight into the creative process behind his new interpretation in its Maltese version under the title Fejn il-Baħar.

The lyrics of Maltese band The Characters’ Down by the Water are about flashbacks lead singer Ray Mercieca had of his parents and his time spent at the beach. The song itself brought back strong memories for musical arranger Kris Spiteri, taking him back to his nightclub days in 1990s Paceville. This triggered him to not just reharmonise and arrange the music but to re-write the lyrics in Maltese, playing with the notion of memory.

The music video for Fejn il-Baħar follows in the successful footsteps of its predecessor the moving arrangement of the Maltese classic Kemm Hu Sabiħ, performed alongside selected members of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) last year. Indeed, Spiteri explains how musically, the concept of both is the same and this year’s video is a continuation in the artistic tone…

…but the musical combination is larger: the strings are still prominent, but Spiteri added harp, brass instruments, and guitars. Drums and bass will again be played by Eric Wadge and Robert Spiteri.

Spiteri admits to finding writing the lyrics challenging: “I did not want to write a literal translation and had issues moulding the Maltese phonetics with a melody that was intrinsically written in English.” He confides how orchestrating and re-harmonisation is always a challenge and this time round it also took him some time.

Interestingly, the video was filmed in one shot, which gives it a theatre performance-like feel: something we are all longing for and can only recall the memory of. As with so many artistic creations, this arrangement is open to plural interpretations: “musically people can take from the song what they wish to take and make it theirs. The more interpretations, the better,” says Spiteri.

What will your interpretation be?

Audiences can watch the video on the 28th of June at 8.30PM on the MIAF website. For more information about MIAF 2021, click HERE.

All photos by Ruben Zahra


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