Brian Tyler Interview: ‘Yellowstone’ composer
“There’s something about the dark side that is very intriguing to us as human beings,” declares composer Brian Tyler about the appeal of Paramount Network’s hit neo-western “Yellowstone.” He adds, “There’s something fascinating to be put in the shoes of someone where it’s normally the ‘hero’ character, but you are just struggling sometimes to support the character you’re associating yourself with in a way.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Tyler above.
Yellowstone centers on a powerful Montana ranching family under constant threat by politicians, developers and the neighboring reservation. Created by Oscar nominee Taylor Sheridan (“Hell or High Water”), it stars Oscar winner Kevin Costner as family patriarch John Dutton, a tough-as-nails father trying to keep his family’s legacy alive, by any means necessary. The series also co-stars Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser and Gil Birmingham and recently premiered its third season to impressive ratings, making it the second most-viewed show on ad-supported cable after “The Walking Dead.”
While “Yellowstone” features sweeping vistas and epic storytelling, its grand visuals and themes are often coupled with intimate, solo instrumentation on Tyler’s score. “Sometimes a single instrument plays to what the show is about. All these people are together as a family, but they are all incredibly lonely. Everyone is on their own path,” he explains. “With a wind instrument you hear the breathing, with a single cello you hear the fingers moving over the strings to get from one note to the other. You hear all of the human error,” Tyler says, adding that “it plays to that idea that even though there’s this epic setting and its dealing with this incredible power and money and these characters, but at the end of the day they’re all alone and they’re all searching.”
The composer is best known for his bombastic action scores for blockbusters like “Iron Man 3” (2013), “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) and “The Fate of the Furious” (2017), as well as his well-received recent work on “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018). Tyler has previously earned Emmy nominations for composing the score for “Last Call” in 2002 and the main title theme music for “Sleepy Hollow” in 2014.
On “Yellowstone” however, he has gone for a more intimate and organic sound, befitting the show’s emotional narrative, featuring instruments that sound unrefined in some way. “Leaving the imperfections makes it very human,” he reveals, emphasizing that he often does not “over-correct it and polish off all of the rough edges. I strove for so long as a musician trying to be perfect. Doing scales, doing runs over and over, always striving. At a certain point I thought wait what is that? That’s not what soulful music is.”