Kris Bowers Interview: ‘When They See Us’ composer
Composer Kris Bowers admits he was very emotional the first time he saw “When They See Us” because of “how much I felt myself in these characters, and how much I felt like I could’ve easily had that experience.” The up-and-coming tunesmith gave an inside look at his work on Ava DuVernay‘s new limited series at Gold Derby’s Meet the Experts panel, conducted by managing editor Chris Beachum. The event took place on Tuesday, May 28, at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles. Watch our exclusive video interview with Bowers above.
“When They See Us,” which premieres on Netflix on May 31, tells the appalling true story of four African-American teenagers and one Hispanic teen — later known as the Central Park Five — who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white jogger in Central Park in 1989. They were released from prison in 2002 when the actual perpetrator came forward and their sentences were vacated. Though justice was eventually served, “these men lost half their lives, essentially,” Bowers divulges.
In his score, Bowers wanted to approach the story “like a horror film.” Watching the first two episodes, which recount their arrest and trial, “I felt scared, just like these young boys did.” To achieve this, he took different instruments, such as trumpets and saxophones, and manipulated them to “play things that were very dissident.” The “approach to putting it together felt more like free jazz than anything else,” he adds.
Bowers won a Daytime Emmy for his work on “The Snowy Day” (2016). He earned a Critics Choice nomination for “Green Book” (2018), which won the Oscar as Best Picture. His other TV credits include “Dear White People,” “For the People,” and “Black Monday.” He’s currently working on “Dear White People” creator Justin Simien‘s new film “Bad Hair.”