Talking Composing With Composer Tyler Bates At SDCC

Recently I spoke with Composer Tyler Bates about his career and work as well as what fans can expect from his panel at San Diego Comic-Con which was hosted by BMI.

How did you get into composing?

TB-I have always written and produced music for my bands growing up, which helped me tremendously when I first began scoring low-budget films for friends and people I met at bar be cues and parties. Though I began with no experience, various directors and producers gave me the opportunity to learn the craft through our collaborations. I am fortunate to have had many open collaborators who helped me to understand the motive and purpose of music, as well as the process by which films are made. Directors and editors really provided me with the fundamentals of filmmaking through their lenses, which was invaluable experience at the time.


Where do you find your inspiration when composing?

TB-I constantly think of music, and process my thoughts and emotions through music. I pursue artistic collaborations of myriad varieties, so I find that I am always learning more about music of all styles & genres, with new directors, producers, recording artists, etc. Each individual with whom I work, has their unique style of story-telling and emotional expression. It’s interesting to experience and grow to understand the sensibilities of other artistic individuals.


What were some of the biggest challenges you faced scoring and what have been your greatest triumphs?

TB-I consider every project to be a tremendous challenge to articulate my collaborator’s vision related to music while maintaining my musical identity. Every opportunity comes with the tremendous responsibility of completing the project successfully, and hopefully exceeding the expectations placed on my by myself, and those who hire me, especially since the vast majority of directors and artists I work with can choose to do so with whomever they wish. Finishing “Hobbs & Shaw” was a triumph unto itself. The time allotted for the entire scoring process was much less than ideal. But David Leitch and the team we worked with at Universal were absolutely supportive in helping us reach a successful result. I am happy that I have had the opportunity to create a “new sound” on many of my film projects. Dawn of the Dead, The Devil’s Rejects, 300, Watchmen, The Day The Earth Stood Still, The John Wick series, Guardians of the Galaxy, are all movies that I am very proud of for the collaborations I shared with the directors and the musicians who helped bring my musical vision to life. There are others in my discography as well, but these stand out on first thought. And straight up – my greatest triumph was having the first “Parental Advisory” tag on a “score only” soundtrack album, for “Deadpool 2.”


Can you explain a bit of your creative process when composing for a film or series?

When scoring for a series, do you have the opportunity to watch several episodes prior to working on the score?

TB-This question requires much too long an answer for this interview. I watch the film as I write. This process begins after reading the script and discussing the film and its characters with the director to establish the musical language of the film. In film, the picture never locks, which means that it is constantly evolving, and a s result, the music is ever changing. It’s a tremendous challenge to maintain the integrity of one’s intent a s a composer, while servicing the picture, and the director’s story-telling and musical objective.


Is there a particular piece of music that you are most proud of? Or a project that you worked on?

TB-I can’t say? I’ve worked on many films, and each of them is a part of my story – good or bad, but all valuable to who I am today. I do love the cue titled “All that is Good” from Watchmen. That was a great sequence of film. I was also afforded the opportunity to juxtapose interesting instruments and vocalists to create a piece of music that I find to be interesting and emotionally satisfying.


Was composing for films something you had always wanted to do?

TB-I did not aspire to become a film composer. Actually, I had no idea how a person could pursue the profession. Thankfully, I spent my life writing, playing and producing music. So when I started procuring opportunities to score films, my prior experience helped me to deliver a quality project – eventually. Haha. Once I began working with talented directors on quality projects, I was excited by the development of my talent working in this medium. I still have a long way to go!


You have composed for such a wide variety of genres, everything from family animated series, horror films, comedy, do you find a genre more interesting or challenging to do? Is the process different for the different genres?

TB-At the end of the day, entertainment of all genres is about story-telling and emotion. I find ever project to be challenging for it’s unique reasons. I would like to score another quality horror film sometime soon, as well as a character drama.


What sorts of composers inspire you? Are there any composers in particular you listen to when preparing for a film or series?

TB-I rarely “listen” to film composers outside the context of seeing movies and watching TV shows. There is no doubt that Thomas Newman, James Newton Howard, Bernard Herrmann, Georgio Moroder, and Don Ellis, made a remarkable impression on me throughout my film-scoring career. The tension Don Ellis created for the French Connection movies with his unique approach to orchestra is still among my favorite bodies of work by a film composer. Thomas Newman rolls a strike every time. It’s incredibly humbling to be considered in the same industry as these composers.


What do you like to do you in spare time?

TB-Ha! No spare time these days. If I am not making movies or TV shows, I am working on records and developing new entertainment concepts.


What do you have upcoming?

TB-Hobbs & Shaw is released August 2nd. I am scoring the new Cique du Soleil live-action show, titled R.U.N., which opens October 24th at the Luxor in Las Vegas. I am also producing the forthcoming Bush album for which I co-wrote four songs with Gavin Rossdale. This has been a lot of fun. The record is due to drop in November.