Paul Leonard-Morgan Interview: ‘Tales from the Loop’ composer
“Collaborating with Phillip was like a bucket list ‘tick,’” admits composer Paul Leonard-Morgan about working with acclaimed maestro Glass on Amazon’s sci-fi anthology series “Tales From the Loop.” “It was a really organic process [but] it took a while to trust each other and to try and get each other’s wavelength.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Leonard-Morgan above.
“Tales From the Loop,” which stars Rebecca Hall and Jonathan Pryce, is based on the acclaimed sci-fi illustrations of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag and was developed for TV by writer Nathaniel Halpern (“Legion”). The series follows the lives of the townsfolk living above “The Loop,” a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe. Unlike what we would ordinarily expect from the genre, the show is not focused on uncovering or explaining the mysteries of this otherworldly machine. Rather, it explores how these people experience the inexplicable events that take place above the Loop, drawing on overarching themes like grief, loss, love and family. While each of the eight episodes are mostly standalone, they are still connected by a common thread, as characters come and go throughout the series as they are impacted by the mysterious Loop machine underneath them.
The score in particular is an evocative mix of emotional string elements and melodic piano themes that beautifully underscore the melancholy and wonder experienced by the show’s townsfolk. It also stands on its own as a singular work that has resonated with classical music fans online. “Nathaniel had said, ‘we want this score to be so good that people will listen to it by itself, with beautiful melodies,” Leonard-Morgan recalls. “Then Amazon released it with a visualization on YouTube and within a week it had a million and a half hits or something like that. It was bonkers!”
Asked about his highlight track or theme from the soundtrack, the composer identifies a number of tracks but settles on a theme that is features early on in the season and makes a comeback in the series finale. “As far as one that I’m really proud of there’s this track called ‘Blink of an Eye,’ which comes at the end of episode four, [director] Andrew Stanton‘s episode. There’s something about this Pixar director who comes and shoots this glorious ‘film.’ For episode four, I just well up in tears,” Leonard-Morgan reveals.
“That theme we then took and put it at the end of the entire series, episode eight, and put a solo cello over the top and I remember recording at Capitol Studios, when we recorded that solo cello, it was the culmination of eight, nine months of work,” he says. “We were just in that control room listening to it and everyone was just silent at the end of it just going ‘wow.’ It’s not often that this happens in music. Normally it’s just ‘great, that’s another cue, that’s another cue,’ but with this it was ‘wow, we’ve really achieved something hopefully with this score.'”