Dominic Lewis: The Soundtracks You Can’t Stop Thinking About

emilytreadgold #1

While this is not my typical interview, I could NOT pass up an opportunity to chat with Dominic Lewis. The iconic composer made his way to SXSW for the premiere of The Fall Guy, and he was as electric as his scores. We talked about his Austin experience, his influences, and, of course, creating the score for Amazon Prime's latest action movie starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. Not to be biased, but after interviewing Dom, watching the movie made it that much more enjoyable.  Anyway, if you haven't yet, you absolutely need to add this film to your MUST WATCH list! 

So, how was your Austin experience? Did you check out any spots while you were here for the premiere? 

Dominic: It was so crazy, but also the best. We might have had too much of a good time, but we did eat at Fresas. We had been to Austin a few times but didn't get to hit a ton of the spots I wanted to. I didn't get barbeque; to be honest, we were still feeling rough from Tuesday, so we chilled a bit on Wednesday. But I'll be back soon for sure!! It felt like a blur! 

Haha, I totally get that, and then you need the following week to recover! 

Dominic: Definitely, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I get why everyone is like, "I want to move to Austin" after South By. 

They definitely say that until it's 100 degrees in the summer. 

Dominic: Exactly. I'll actually be back in November for a Bat Mitzvah.

Just in time for the good weather, heh! But let's talk more about you and The Fall Guy, which premiered at SXSW this year! Of course, you were the composer and arranged the score for the movie. How do you know where to begin with a repertoire like yours ranging from Disney movies to Bullet Train? What is the first step for you?

Dominic: It's very different for everything I do - I take the process of the filmmakers and try to make them feel comfortable first because I can kind of shapeshift in any way they would need me to. With David Leitch, it's very much like going into mad scientist mode. I would write a bunch of music and suites to see if there's anything he's gravitating towards. With Bullet Train, from the start, we were on the same page - he'd play my suites on set to the actors. It was great. 

That's incredible!

Dominic: Yeah, but with Fall Guy, it was very different. The first thing he asked me to do was a traditional 80s love ballad. We tried and tried to get it into the movie, but it was just TOO 80s. But it did get a cool spot, and not to spoil too much, but it made it in one of the ending scenes where they tag it on after the end credits. 

That's so cool!

Dominic: Yeah, so it ended up being for Ryan (Gosling) and Emily (Blunt) 's characters!

So yeah, I mean, with Fall Guy, I started off with a bunch of suites. Then it kind of went to the 80s. We went through so many iterations and explorations in a great way. It was really fun to explore. And then, with the Disney stuff on TV stuff, it tends to be a lot quicker. There was a little bit of that on Monsters at Work. DuckTales was kind of just thrown in and did a big orchestral-like swashbuckling thing. It just varies from movie to movie, ya know! It's basically what the filmmakers or the showrunners need from me.  I can move in whichever way they want me to go.  

That's so awesome. Was there anything that you did to prep for The Fall Guy specifically to create your sound? 

Dominic: So originally, David and I were talking and in the script, it was very KISS oriented. The characters were supposed to go to a KISS concert, and that was the start of their loving relationship. So I listened to a lot of them, and obviously, the film score didn't end up that way, but "I Was Made For Loving You" stuck, and I think it was always going to be - it was part of the original script. 

That was sort of David's North Star, really. And then, when the script changed, I don't think he was ever able to get past that. He always had it in his brain that that was gonna be kind of the motivation for Colt's (played by Ryan Gosling) character. We came back after all my explorations of going to the 80s, and it just kept coming back to the 80s and KISS. I took the guitar riff from the beginning of the song. I took the chorus melody and some of the bass stuff, Gene's bass lines, and then just kind of worked it in and out of all my themes, along with the love theme, which was originally the song. 

This is so awesome to hear and also see come to life on screen. How did you get your start in composing?

Dominic: How did I get my start? A perfect storm of stuff. My dad was involved in scoring - he's a cellist and was on a lot of sessions in London. He's a cellist. I went to school with Rupert Gregson-Williams' stepdaughter, and it was there that I fell in love with writing film music and wanted to get into it. So through my dad's contacts with job and knowing Rupert, when it came time to it, I studied film, music and composition at the Royal Academy and the goal was to work for Rupert after that. But he didn't have any work for me. Instead, he told me, "Get yourself on a plane to go meet Hans Zimmer." So, I sold my cello and got the flight to LA, but he was so busy he couldn't meet me. My dad and I's friends were coming to have a holiday with John Powell, and I went there, met, and hung out with him for about three to four days. He told me his team was leaving for Thanksgiving and asked if I could help him upI did that and i guess I didn't muck it up and you know, here I am talking to you! 

That is INSANE! With your family's influences and probably your own, this path seemed inevitable for you. The ultimate perfect storm, if you will. How else would you say they influenced you?

Dominic: Oh yeah, everything. Dad was in a quartet before shifting into sessions and film sessions - I was about a teenager when that was happening. My mom was a singer, so she'd have opera on all the time, and dad would have quartet music on all the time. Mom would also have pupils around the house singing. We would have the Eric Clapton, 60s classics, Hendrix, and the Beach Boys. Whether it was classic pop or rock, music drenched my house. I think having such a hell of a library in my skull allows me to draw inspiration for my projects. 

Definitely, I think it also makes linking the music to the scene of a film or television show that much easier. 

Dominic: For sure - I just mix a bunch of shit, and, you know, when it comes out, hopefully, people like it. 

Haha, no they definitely do! I was telling a friend about this interview and she raved about your score in Bullet Train - so you have at least ONE fan! 

Dominic: Heyyy

Was there a favorite piece that you composed for this movie that stands out the most to you? 

Dominic: I said this in interviews before, but I love all my children equally. Erm, not love, you know, but it is so hard when you integrate someone else's material, like KISS, for example. It's hard for my brain to decipher what Dom Lewis is and what's been mixed with another. I will say there's an important bit of the film where we do a reimagination of "I Was Made For Loving You" in a different way, and I think that was a cool experience, BUT not necessarily my favorite piece. But now that we talk about it, I think the ending. 

It was fun to write because I was able to mix the 80s, orchestral, and Cayman-esque last-action hero stuff with pop music and synth. Then we threw in love ballads and had everything piling on top of each other. I think that was the most fun. 

I can definitely imagine it - especially when it's part of such a pivotal part of the movie!

Samantha Fong

"At 15 years old, I begged my mom to take me to Walmart to get Taylor Swift's debut deluxe album and I never turned back. This was my very first entry point to stan fandom. Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee I was exposed to a ton of music - from rapping 3 6 Mafia to bopping to Justin Timberlake's solo discography. Now, in LA have a day job working in nonprofit development, but by night, I'm a full-fledged fangirl. I'll listen to generally any genre, but I'm a sucker for a good pop song. If you ever need someone to scream sing Carly Rae Jepsen's E·MO·TION with, I'm your girl. No, I still have not gotten over the One Direction hiatus. Please continue to respect my privacy. Twitter : samfonggg, Instagram : samantha_fong"