When “Everything Everywhere All at Once” directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as Daniels) asked the band Son Lux to create the score for their movie, the musicians were delightfully surprised. “We were a little caught of guard because it felt like they had really investigated where we were coming from as a band,” explains Rafiq Bhatia. The directors had already combed through the band’s library of music and determined they were the perfect fit. So the Son Lux trio of Bhatia, Ryann Lott and Ian Chang dove headfirst into the multiverse. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
The Daniels were specific in their requirements of the film’s score: music would be essential in helping the audience differentiate the many worlds that Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) leaps through. They appreciated Son Lux’s ability to bring together extreme opposites within their music, and believed that this quality would serve the story. “It was the right combination of feeling very seen and also feeling like ‘oh my god what is this thing and how will they ever pull this off,’” says Bhatia. So the group signed on to the project and began to tackle the mammoth script.
Lott explains that the film demanded “such a broader expression than I think we had given ourselves credit that we would be able to achieve.” So much so, that he initially assumed the group would “farm out” some of the music. The task seemed too large for one group to accomplish. But the start of production was rapidly approaching and Daniels needed a number for the “hot dog hands musical” and fast, as it was the first sequence being filmed. The group jokes that their hopes of alleviating their workload were quickly dashed as they realized they would be creating all of the music. But the outlandish hot dog finger scene helped the band to let go of expectations and experiment with the sounds they could create. “Diving into something that was on the ridiculous side forced us to start imagining different versions of ourselves for these universes,” claims Bhatia.
Luckily, their directors were open to trying new ideas and making unexpected discoveries during the creative process. That creative spirit was a huge benefit to Son Lux, who threw “the kitchen sink” at the score to see what stuck. A necessity when the score lasts for nearly the entire running time of the film.
The group would “think about what sounds belong in the movie or universe,” according to Chang, before embarking on some virtual instrument building. This process usually occurred before any melodies had been constructed. “In exploring those sounds, things kind of come to the surface,” he explains of the unconventional creative process. “Some of the main themes end up going through a lot of different versions throughout the movie.” A single theme can be repeated with different tones or orchestrations, so that in one universe it may convey unbridled rage yet it’s used for a tender moment in the next scene. “That’s one of the fun things about having melodic themes,” reveals Chang, “you can transform them to feel like a number of different things.”
The band felt transformed themselves while working on the movie. Lott specifically references the surreal experience of creating music for the hilarious Raccacoonie character, voiced by the legendary Randy Newman. “It was this super exciting but also daunting task of writing a song for Randy Newman, in the style of Randy Newman,” notes Lott, ”but I think I caught the goofy bug that is very much inside of this movie.” He even provided the singing voice of the chef Chad during this “Ratatouille” inspired song when actor Harry Shum Jr. wasn’t up to the vocals. The musician didn’t expect to deliver a zany duet with Newman, but it provided a memorable experience. “That was the final nail in the coffin of my serious self,” jokes Lott, “That previous me just kind of died in that moment. It was so much fun.”
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