Will Bates Q&A: ‘The Path’ composer
“I wanted everything to be sort of boiled down to its rawest form. I do like things to be really raw and visceral and not too layered and complicated in a way,” reveals composer Will Bates as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his score for Hulu’s new drama series “The Path.” The show stars three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as a longtime cult member facing a crisis of faith, Michelle Monaghan as his wife, and Hugh Dancy as the formidable leader.
Bates first became involved with the project through director Michael Cahill, a frequent collaborator, who helmed the pilot. “Something that Mike said right at the beginning was for it to have teeth, which for some reason just totally made sense to me immediately.” The day before shooting the opening scene, Cahill called his composer and hummed a tune for him to write: “He wanted something to be listening to while he was shooting. It was quite an unusual situation for me to be involved that early.”
The score Bates composed is a mix of traditional instrumentation and electronica, conveying the fractured state of mind of its lead character. This decision came after several discussions between the composer, the director, and creator/executive producer Jessica Goldberg.
“The first conversations we had really were about tone,” Bates explains. “They had pretty strong ideas about how the music should function in the show. They wanted it to be very bold, and very present. We talked a lot about kind of combining very expressive electronica with conventional instrumentation, but we presented this idea that whenever there would be conventional instruments involved, they would be played in a very kind of raw way, very visceral, in the same kind of way that the characters emotions are very exposed a lot of the time.”
Bates is the founder of Fall On Your Sword, a music production company and audio post facility. He also served as composer of Alex Gibney’s Scientology expose “Going Clear” (2015), an irony that was not lost on him. “It’s one of those kind of crazy coincidences,” he laughs. “Of course, everybody makes the obvious comparison with Scientology to the show and its subject matter, but I think that when you watch the show you understand pretty quickly the similarities end after the word ‘cult.’ It’s pretty different.”