You are in your studio now. Even when working on new scores, do you look back and think about your previous work?
I think what I mostly do is take each experience and apply it to the next one, especially when it comes to telling stories, or political things, or change of image, and why this change, and who is asking for the change, and all of those things. I take every experience from place to place. But yeah, other than in cases like this where you kind of have to digest what you’ve done, I like to leave them in the past and see what I can do again. There’s a reason I do more film music than concert music, because I’m like, “Now it’s done. Let’s move on to the next thing.”
So what would you say to your takeaways from “The Invitation” experience?
It had been a few years since I had done any horror work, so it was fun to see where I am now in that aspect. I’ve been doing a lot of comedies and dramas and documentaries and animation lately. It’s probably been about five years since I’ve done any horror work, so just seeing what my horror voice of 2022 is compared to my horror voice of 2017.
Audiences expect horror film music. Musically, how far can you deviate and experiment with the genre?
We talked a lot about finding things that disturbed us, and I think that lent itself well to this film. There is a lot of atmosphere. How scary do we want to be at some point in the movie? Do we want to be ahead of the character of Evie? Do we want to be with her? Tow that line where the thrills are, where the gothic elements are, where the romance is, but always find ways to tie them all together, so they all feel like one cohesive piece.
For the gothic romantic elements, what instruments did you want to evoke that feeling?
Well, for romance, we did a lot of acoustic guitars and harps and things like that, plus more strings. And then when it came to scoring goth things, we brought higher mid-strings. But then there was always this added feeling of weirdness, so bringing in weird electric cello sounds, or processed vocals, or other stuff where you had to go, “What’s that?” – which is my favorite question.
I have one of these questions. In the opening title, there is this sound like a disturbed choir mixed almost with the wind. What is that?
It was a voice. It was three singers we had, and they would come and go in various forms, or sing the same pattern in different parts of the movie, kind of like that mesmerizing siren song. They are singers, but it is an inverted voice. They sang it one way, then I reversed them, then I added a bunch of distortion and fuzz and stuff that really should only be on punk rock guitars, to make it feel really unsettling. And then sometimes adding a bit of that even to the orchestra, just to make it feel strange, familiar but not comfortable.