As regular readers will know, Torrevieja-made film The Cucaracha Club was filmed on a tight budget of just €23,000. So I was astounded to discover that local musician and songwriter Peter Taylor from Los Montesinos had written not just one but three original songs for the film. If you want to find another low budget film with mostly unknown actors that also had original music, you need to go back to MASH in 1970 I think, although I’m sure if I’m wrong someone will correct me!
Recently I caught up with Peter and Chloe Leigh, who sings the theme tune for the film. I’m not easily impressed, but I have to say I was blown away by the sheer enthusiasm for their music that these two share, and it underlined for me just how much talent we have locally, and how genereous people have been with their time to ensure that the first feature film ever made in Torrevieja was successfully completed.
I chatted with Chloe first, after her salsa class at Casa Ventura, and she explained how she came to be involved with the film. Screenwriter Billie Anthony Gaddess found her on Facebook, and thought she’d make a good actress for the film, as she was dressed in a burlesque-style costume in one of her photos. Assuming she was a model, he contacted her. As he didn’t actually know her at this point, he assured her her he was on the level and not some kind of pervert! Billie arranged to meet up at one of her local gigs. When he heard Chloe sing, he turned to his friend Peter – who had gone along for the ride – and said ‘You have got to write a song for this girl.’
The Cucaracha Club theme song is, as Peter says:
A song of hope. Before I wrote a note, I read the script, and saw The Cucaracha Club as a place to share your troubles. This comes through in the lyrics and the music video. I didn’t want dark lyrics, because there is always hope.
This came across to me, both in the lyrics and the film. Although the title of the film refers to a group of indestructables in the intelligence service, the people in the film, while ostensibly living the expat dream, actually have nightmarish lives, and this paradox is captured beautifully in Peter’s song. That’s what Chloe took from the lyrics too. It’s so appropriate, I assumed he must be used to writing theme tunes, but no, this is his first film theme, although the title song for The Cucaracha Club 2: The Route of All Evil is already written.
Chloe is looking forward to giving It’s So Evil her own special treatment. It’s a rock song, which is more in her line, although being such a versatile singer, she makes everything
sound fabulous. Peter also wrote two more songs for The Cucaracha Club – Give it Wings, sung by Verity Jo Spencer Hall, and Don’t Block Out the Light, stunningly rendered by Stevie Spit. As yet there is no music video for this song, but watch this space!
Give it Wings plays as leading lady Elana Neumann drives her Pontiac Trans Am Firebird along the N332. It’s one of the most memorable moments of the film, watching the Firebird speed through the beautiful countryside, as Elana’s emotions fleet across her face. There is no speech, other than the lyrics overlaying the journey – lyrics about feeling all alone in the world, feeling there’s no love for you, but being assured real love is there, and the best way to find love is to give it. That’s when you realise that Elana’s problems are far more deep rooted and much less recent than the kidnapping of her children. Just like the not-so-special agents who belong to the Cucaracha Club, Elana’s beauty, wealth, stunning home and fast car are not enough to fill the void in her life. The song allows the viewer to learn so much more about Elana than anything she or anyone close to her can say. And like everything Peter writes, there’s hope in there.
Peter has written over 100 songs in his lifelong involvement with music, but he hadn’t written anything for around 12 years, until actor and fellow musician Zac Lloyd Rush introduced him to Billie and got him involved in The Cucaracha Club. In Peter’s own words, he’d ‘wandered away’ from making music as opposed to simply playing it, but to borrow a musical analogy, he’s back in the groove again. Since writing the original songs for the film, Peter has written over 20 new songs in the last three years, so you could say his involvement with the film has given Peter’s creativity wings again! It’s certainly got the creative juices flowing, because he’s also written a play with music, so we’re set to hear a lot more from Peter Taylor.
I asked Peter if he could pick out a defining memory or moment from his time working on The Cucaracha Club, and he had no hesitation. Peter was tuning up to play for a wrap party for an AdHoc Players production, which was also a fund raiser for The Cucaracha Club. Along with fellow members of The Fantastic Replays Zac and Simon Giddens, they did a run through of the theme tune of the film to check everything was okay. Billie stood there watching, and the emotion filled his face and trickled down his cheeks. It was all Peter could do to keep it together, at the time, and now, around two years on from that moment, it still resonates with both of them.
For Billie, it was the first time he’d actually stood and listened to the song all the way through, without being involved on set or in the studio. He had time to actually listen to the words of the song, and let the music flow through him. It was when he finally realised the magnitude of what he and all the talented people he’d brought together to work on the project had accomplished. The dream had come true, and despite the doubters and the setbacks along the way, The Cucaracha Club was finally real.
Music can do many things, and Peter Taylor can certainly make it sing and speak. If you are lucky enough to see The Cucaracha Club sometime soon, pay special attention to the music. It adds so many extra layers to the story line, and helps you to know what makes the characters tick. The Cucaracha Club is remarkable on so many levels.
Thanks to Billie Anthony Gaddess and Chloe Leigh for granting permission to use these photos.