When season one of The Witcher dropped on Netflix in 2019, few would have predicted that one of the biggest takeaways viewers had wouldn’t be the special effects, fight choreography or even Henry Cavill’s central performance – instead, it was the absolute banger of a song strummed by humble bard Jaskier (Joey Batey) in the second episode.


Certainly, the viral popularity of 'Toss a Coin to your Witcher' took Batey and the song’s creators ( composers Giona Ostinelli and Sonya Belousova and lyricist Jenny Klein) by surprise.

"I don’t think any of us were expecting that," Batey tells RadioTimes.com.

"When it landed, a friend of mine texted me, saying, 'Hey, you know that you’ve gone viral, right?' I was like, 'Don’t be silly.'

"All these covers and videos and everyone was doing it online. I never really go on the internet, but it was the one moment I went, 'Wow, people are really engaging with the music.'

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"I’m so glad that that happened, because Jaskier is a storyteller. He is a musician. Within Andrzej Sapkowski’s books, he’s famous. We get to actually see the origin story of that in season one.

"So that meant that by the time we got to season two, we got to have this really, really lovely conversation. It was like, "Well, what next?'."

Because season two of The Witcher brought, as Batey puts it, Jaskier’s "difficult second album" – and we caught up with the actor and musician to find out how he followed up 'Toss A Coin' with a new, more emotional ballad, which he co-created with series composer Joe Trapanese.

Spoiler alert: Jaskier’s not completely over his fight with Geralt (Henry Cavill) just yet.

I have to ask about 'Burn', the new song. It’s like an Adele-worthy breakup anthem… but for Jaskier and Geralt.

It’s not far off, yeah! Joe Trapanese, who’s the composer on season two, and myself wrote that song over the pandemic. One thing that I wanted to bring to the music of season two was a maturity. I always say this, but we wanted to see the progression of Jaskier’s musical developments, much as you might chart David Bowie or Freddie Mercury throughout their time.

They didn’t settle on one sound. They kept shifting and moving and pushing, and getting more and more progressive with their musical taste and genre-bending. That’s something that Joe and I worked really hard on over the pandemic, to start to mediate between genres, and introduce a more Celtic vibe, and introduce a more operatic singing style at times.

That was really, really rewarding, because by the time we kind of settled on something, and we floated it to all the Netflix gods, they all turned and went, "Well, it’s not as catchy as 'Toss a Coin'." And we went, "Good. I think that’s the point."

So that was really, really fun, and Joe is just the most talented composer ever. He’s amazing. I was really, really lucky to have worked with him.

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I will say the song’s bridge has been in my head since yesterday.

Oh, good! That’s a good sign.

I didn’t realise that you were so involved with this one, because last time you sang it, but obviously other people composed Jaskier’s songs.

I was involved in the songwriting a little on season one, but now all the songs… well, most of the songs on season two were co-composed.

There’s one song that isn’t, that Joe composed. I tried to rewrite it, and add my own thoughts to it. But after a month-and-a-half of hitting my head against a brick wall, I just said, “No, this song’s really, really great. I don’t want to change it. I don’t want to do anything to it.”

And that’s how Joe and I work. We’re just playing email tennis, and constantly talking to each other about it, and making those big, strong, creative decisions that mean we get to see a side to Jaskier that perhaps we haven’t seen before.

Was it important to you to kind of have more involvement this season?

Yeah. I really fought for it. I’m a professional musician, and a big part of my life is music, and always has been.

It also meant that when I turned up on set and began to sing and play and fart about as Jaskier is able to do, it meant that I had a lot more ownership over the song, and I felt like I was in… You know, I felt like these shoes fit. I was able to really take ownership, and enjoy it in a way that perhaps I didn’t get a chance to do on season one.

You mentioned there’s a few more Jaskier songs this season – anything you can tell us about them?

I haven’t actually seen the second half of the series, but yeah, there’s definitely ones that might pop up on the soundtrack, and might have a small cameo later on in the season.

Do you think Jaskier’s songs could go viral again, or do you think 'Toss a Coin' was a one-off?

That was lightning in a bottle, and there’s no way that we could produce that again. We’re not Taylor Swift! You know what I mean? We’re not trying to be, either.

A big part of writing these songs is making sure that it now is no longer an exercise in PR, which it was on season one. 'Toss a Coin' was all about making Geralt famous, and making Jaskier famous.

It now needs to be driven by character, and it’s Jaskier exploring some of the darkest recesses of his own soul. I believe that some of the best art has that in it. He’s starting to really use his own personal experiences rather than the experiences of others to inspire his work.

I mean, thank you very much for comparing it to Adele, but I don’t think we’re about to get to that level!

You never know.

You never know, you never know.

The Witcher season two is streaming now on Netflix. For more, check out our dedicated Fantasy page, our guide to the best series on Netflix or our full TV Guide.


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