My West London Life

Serena Foyle


Pyromusical producer and great grandaughter of the eponymous and legendary London bookstore founder, Serena Foyle on life as a 'firework DJ'

How did you get into pyromusicals?

I was always so fascinated by the use of music in film and what a large part it plays in the overall impact of what we are viewing. I knew that music had been created with fireworks displays for hundreds of years, but that no-one had yet realised how crucial a role it has in how we experience a pyromusical.

What do you love about your job?

I love being able to move people through music, which is then impacted far more by the clever choreography of fireworks to it. It is wonderful to be able to hold the attention of an entire audience, no matter how small or big and regardless of what ages of people it includes.

Where’s your favourite place in west London?

The middle of Hyde Park, where the grass is left to grow wild. Its always quietest in that part of the park and you feel cut off from the busy streets of London.

What is the last book you read?

A travel book on Zanzibar, as I am about to be there on honeymoon!

What is your favourite book and why?

Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. A lot of the book is set in Vienna during the war and I was living in the centre of Vienna at the time of reading it. The story is a true one and as Vienna’s innere stadt is almost unchanged from when the book was set, it gave me such a ‘real’ experience of the story and I felt completely absorbed into it.

What is the worst job you’ve ever done?

I took on a one-off job of delivering 800 yellow pages round Edinburgh, to earn some extra cash at University. I had a week to complete the job, but decided to get the whole thing done as quickly as possible, so spent an entire weekend, day and night to get them all delivered. There were so many to store, we had them lining the walls of our student flat.

What has been the proudest moment in your career so far and why?

Finding a venue, designing the music and having a very large fireworks display created and set up in only five days. This sort of display normally requires a minimum of quite a few weeks to arrange.

Where is your favourite place to have breakfast and what do you order?

I do love breakfast at the Wolseley most of all. My sister and I have a lovely tradition of taking each other there on our birthdays each year. Their Birchermuesli is very good, but if I’m after something richer, their eggs benedict for me, is the best in London.

What is your philosophy on life?

Look for variety in life and always believe in the possibility of things.

Where is the best venue/party you have performed at?

It has to be Mellerstain house in the Scottish Borders, where I produced a fireworks event for charity last year.

The audience watched the display from the wonderful terrace beside the house, looking out over a beautiful lake in the distance surrounded by trees. The lake is situated down a gradual hill, meaning all the fireworks were completely hidden from view as they had drinks on the terrace in the build up to the display, leaving a sort of mystery until the beginning of the music for the display was first heard.

How do people react when you tell them what you do for a living?

They usually ask me to repeat it first of all. But quickly they seem to like the idea… Everyone feels like children when it comes to fireworks!

What is your favourite summer song?

A very hard decision, but I never tire of Money by Pink Floyd on a warm evening.

If you could perform anywhere in the world where would it be?

I’d love to create a display around Lake Como in Italy, if you had all the surrounding land at your disposal. The mountains around would create a wonderful framing and an intimacy, despite the large display that would be possible and the lake would provide incredible reflections of the fireworks. That is just one place of many I would love to create a display, as each place inspires you in such a different way, both musically and visually.

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