The original soundtrack by Los Angeles based composer, Brocker Way, to hit Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country was recently released via Western Vinyl. Making it an entity of its own as well as killing the arrogance in the series, Brocker Way has successfully pulled off this ambitious task.
He spoke with The Fountain about scoring the series as well as whether we can look forward to live gigging of these scores.
TF: You’ve recorded a new album, in fact an OST to accompany the Netflix series, Wild Wild Country, what can we expect from this LP?
This album contains fifteen tracks of chamber arrangements, and electronic compositions that will hopefully transport you back to Wasco County or Pune, India and set you next to these talking heads as they lived and struggled in the early 1980s. The original purpose of this music was to allow the audience to experience the drive and motivations of its leading talking heads; to lead a willing audience further down paths of moral complexity than they may have thought they agreed to. The directors’ stated goal was to dismantle the distance between the audience and subjects of Wild Wild Country and to destroy the arrogance that distance creates.
The soundtrack includes a small portion of the original score. There were two different strategies with how we could have gone about choosing the track list for this soundtrack. The first route would have been doing the best hits – the biggest and most prominent tracks on the soundtrack. The other option was to choose tracks that fall within a narrower range of style and purpose. Brian, who runs Western Vinyl, is a bold guy and he leaned more towards the latter. It was difficult seeing some major cues get cut from the list, but in truth, this soundtrack now feels like a record. These tracks leaned more towards the landscape of the series; the sparser, harsher arrangements, yet somewhat melodic and hopeful, that speak to the political and physical struggles that this land has been a theater for throughout the recent centuries.
TF: And what was it about this series that made you say yes to taking on the task of scoring it?
I work with my brothers and even though I’m the older one, they are both physically bigger than me, so I didn’t have much say in the matter. But the story was pretty great too.
Film scoring is such an immensely competitive gig, so it could sound silly for me to pretend like I chose this project. Having the opportunity to score a series where the initial temps are by Charles Ives and Terry Riley, and the primary topics are about voting rights and land reclamation, means I got lucky. Basically, the directors and I grew up in the same three bedroom house, watched the same films and documentaries growing up, and played in the same band. I’ve dealt with them for thirty plus years, the least they could do is let me score their Netflix Original documentary series.
The other thing that makes this series such a great opportunity for any composer, is the amount of music the directors want, as well as the dense arrangement styles requested. While many professional documentarians and academics might not agree with that approach, we do and always have – Man On Wire, Project Nim, and Fog of War are beloved films for us – and a side benefit is that it makes for a decent soundtrack album.
TF: Have you previously scored films or is this new opportunity in your career?
I scored our first documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, and a couple other smaller film projects along the way. But this was my first series. Chap and Mac have a tendency to shy away from music that feels like television scoring, so even though this was a series, it felt like scoring six separate documentaries. Therefore the process was similar to our other projects, just more intense and prolonged.
TF: And this is one you released via Western Vinyl, how were they to work with?
Chap and I released a pop (kinda) album back in 2008, and we were pretty arrogant, and we decided that if we did sign with a label, it would only be with one of our dream labels. Western Vinyl was one of those. And no one signed us. So having them want to release this soundtrack is a personal dream and a triumph that people shouldn’t get in their lives.
When you work with an indie label you interact primarily with the person who runs the whole enterprise. That’s Brian Sampson. He’s a seriously impressive individual, who attentively pushes the whole process along, yet he respects his artists and involves them in many of the primary decisions. He’s a level headed professional in a volatile industry filled with dramatic personalities.
Here’s also why I’m a bit sentimental about Brian and WV. He made two decisions for this soundtrack that go against the grain a bit, but that I thought were cool and I’ve never told him. The first, I already mentioned. He made it a priority to put out on an album that was cohesive in and of itself. That means I get lots of emails from people who are angry that the music cue that plays when the Rajneeshes are building their city is missing from this soundtrack. It also means that the soundtrack has its own unique flavour – its own soul. The other decision he made was to only include tracks from the original score. I think it would have been more lucrative for him to have included some of the pop songs that were licensed in the series. But those songs were already published, and he felt it would water down the album. He was the only person from any label that we spoke to that wanted to go that route.
TF: And can we expect any live performances of this OST, and would you be so kind to indulge us north of the border Brocker?
Yes! We definitely should figure it out. It’s difficult to put together a live show when you are composing for other film projects, but we haven’t crossed off the idea just yet. I think we might do it when we release the second Wild Wild Country album. I’m not a road weary musician, so the idea that I could perform my music in Scotland is a wild dream to me.