Harry Gregson-Williams: ‘Electric Dreams’ composer
“‘The Commuter’ was a beauty to do,” beams composer Harry Gregson-Williams about his work on the standout episode of “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.” The veteran tunesmith handpicked the script because “it wasn’t too ridiculously supernatural,” and because its father-son storyline hit him close to home. He’s the father of two sons and three daughters, so “I know about those feelings.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Gregson-Williams above.
“Electric Dreams” is an Amazon anthology series based on the writings of sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. In “The Commuter,” a train station employee named Ed Jacobson (Timothy Spall) is alarmed to discover that a number of riders are taking the train to a town that doesn’t exist. When he investigates for himself he discovers an alternate reality that forces him to confront his relationship with his wife (Rebecca Manley) and emotionally troubled son (Anthony Boyle). The episode has been submitted in the Best TV Movie category at the Emmys.
“A lot of the sounds, the cues, would start up as if they were the sounds of the train,” Gregson-Williams explains. “So I had these pulsating rhythms … which would slowly evolve into musical phrases, and I’d float my tune over the top of that.” But the toughest challenge was conveying the delicate relationship between Jacobson and his son. “The music, although quite eerie, angular, worried and tense for much of the episode, comes to fruition towards the end” when Jacobson is reunited with his son. The score in that moment “hopefully hits the heartstrings where you want it to.”
The composer is also on the Emmy ballot for his main title theme, which “was a little bit more like my experience with video games because there was no main title picture when I was asked to write the music.” Instead, showrunner Michael Dinner provided the composer with a “one sheet with how the pictures might look” and asked him to “write a piece of music that sums these moods up.”
Gregson-Williams is best known for his film work, particularly with brothers Ridley Scott (“Kingdom of Heaven,” “The Martian“) and Tony Scott (“Spy Game,” “Man on Fire,” “Deja Vu”). He is a Golden Globe nominee for “Shrek” (2001) and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (2005).