Atli Orvarsson Interview: ‘Defending Jacob’ composer
Icelandic composer Atli Örvarsson felt right at home scoring a chilling series like “Defending Jacob,” the new Apple TV+ show about a Massachusetts father whose son is accused of murdering a classmate. Örvarsson matched the blue/gray aesthetic of the limited series with a dark, ambient score that communicates the turmoil each of the main characters is going through. “There’s a loss of innocence and there’s a loss of what they knew to be their normal life,” says Örvarsson in our exclusive new interview. “I wanted to provoke feelings of loss and isolation and loneliness.” Watch the full chat with the composer above.
While Örvarsson has composed music for similar crime drama shows like “Chicago P.D.,” “FBI” and the “Law & Order” franchise, he intentionally gave “Defending Jacob” a different feeling. He instead crafted the score as an emotional drama, to reflect the characters’ “inner world, how they’re feeling, rather than what’s happening on-screen.” Örvarsson lived in Boston for three years to attend college so he was able to communicate the chilly feeling of the area. His familiarity may have helped him considering he was under time constrictions. “There wasn’t much time to think so we had to really just go with our guts and be brave and be bold,” he reveals.
Örvarsson kept in mind the need to build up to the explosive finale, but having only two months to compose the score for the entire series meant having to follow instincts and do his best to explore new feelings within the music for each episode. “I had to follow the path and let the show tell me what it wanted,” he states. The composer does work in many different kinds of projects but finds the darkness in these kinds of crime shows to be inherently fascinating. “I find more interesting material to work with in the darkness than in the light,” Örvarsson admits. “I feel really lucky that I knew pretty early on what really compels me and what I really enjoy doing.”
The limited series now has its first few episodes streaming on Apple TV+. It stars Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell and J.K. Simmons.