Music

Meet Isobel Waller-Bridge, Fashion's Favorite Musical Composer

The musician talks about her work with the Alexander McQueen maison, her relationship with fashion, and her upcoming album.
Reading time 4 minutes
Photo via Mercury KX/Sophie Harris-Taylor

Isobel Waller-Bridge might just be a musical genius. The 36-year-old Brit, perhaps best known for composing the music for her sister’s cult-favourite, hit TV show, Fleabag, has had huge success in the music realm, and now the fashion world is taking notice. Waller-Bridge studied music at Edinburgh University, going on to King's College London and the Royal Academy of Music. She recently did the soundtrack for the movie Emma. (2020), as well as an episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror.

Waller-Bridge composed the music for the Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2020 women’s show that took place in Paris this past September. “I really didn’t have any relationship with fashion before McQueen,” Waller-Bridge tells L’Officiel USA. “It was exciting seeing behind the scenes, and the artistry that goes into a collection and making a show. I think since working with them I’ve definitely started to understand the role of fashion in art.” She mentions that McQueen also gave her a beautiful suit. “I feel strong and powerful in it. I’m grateful to have found a bit of style that works for me.”

McQueen has recently started an initiative called #McQueenMusic, allowing for fans to listen and download the music from McQueen shows and events in their own homes. For #McQueenMusic, Waller-Bridge created an exclusive new score for the house, "Suspended in Air," which was performed on YouTube by Robert Ames and Galya Bisengaileva. She has also curated a playlist, “Energy and Rhythm,” on the McQueen Spotify Channel. “I wanted to curate a playlist for a positive mood, for peace and hope, and for strength,” she says. “I look around and I feel the need for community more than ever. Community is a word so deeply associated with McQueen, and I wanted to reflect that connectivity with diversity and energy.”

The sense of community is one of the things Waller-Bridge loves about McQueen, she says it’s inherent to their work. “The outreach, and creative community projects that McQueen produces that aren’t necessarily front-page news all the time, are astonishing and very inspiring. It really feels like Sarah [Burton] and the whole team are listening, all the time, to people all around them. It is reflected in the opportunities made available to people who don’t naturally have the advantage, but have the talent.” The musician admires how Burton discovers creative people all over the U.K. and provides them with opportunities; that the diversity of talent is not just an idea, but something she believes the McQueen house actually puts into practice. 

Waller-Bridge recently signed to Mercury KX, a label known for their genre-defying, diverse collection of artists, and is working on her first album for them. “It feels really good to be writing without a brief,” she says. “It’s drawing me into a place in my mind I’ve not been in for a while, and creatively there’s lots in there to unpack. I’m finding it really inspiring having the independence and the freedom to do what I want.”

Robert Ames and Galya Bisengaileva perform "Suspended in Air"

But Waller-Bridge also made a deal with herself to not feel pressured to write music during this time. “I’m not someone who likes to write when I’m feeling depressed or low. Some people find being in that place can be creatively quite good, but for me, it’s not a fruitful place,” she says. She’s been using quarantine to flex her “imagination muscle” in a way she hasn’t for a while and finds herself inspired by things that aren’t necessarily music-related: books, movies, paintings. She believes she learns as much from things she doesn’t like as the things she does. 

With all of her success thus far and an album on the way, Waller-Bridge tells us what she wants people to know about herself and the music she creates. “My music is rarely political,” she says, “my music is about feeling. I don’t like to try and predict what people want to hear—I’ll just do what I feel and that is always what I know to trust. I always try to make honest music.” 

Her album is slated for release later in 2020. 

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