Watchmen Composer Tyler Bates Interviewed

The following is an excerpt from EM's April cover story, an interview with Tyler Bates, who composed the music for the movie Watchmen (to be released on March 6th), along with such movies as 300, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Devil''s Rejects, and many more.
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Photo: Mitch Tobais

The following is an excerpt from EM's April cover story, an interview with Tyler Bates, who composed the music for the movie Watchmen (to be released on March 6th), along with such movies as 300, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Devil''s Rejects, and many more.

Let''s talk about the creative pressure of scoring. Songwriters generally have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to hit before they write something. Whereas in scoring, you basically have to create on demand, right?
In the scoring world, especially television, there are no days off where you''re like, “I''m not feeling it.” You have to come up with two minutes a day or else you''ll end up behind the eight ball and the music will suffer terribly.

Let''s say you get in a situation and you''re not feeling it. Do you have any methods to pull yourself out of that hole and come up with ideas?
I try and do something outside my studio. Once in a while, you need to feel intense artistic pressure, or even a bit of panic, in order to create something impacting. I''m not talking deadline pressure. I''m talking about artistic pressure. When that becomes really intense, it shifts your focus away from the peripheral stuff, like the expectations of everyone involved in a project, to just getting into your work.

Give me an example.
Let''s say I sit down in my studio and I have nothing. I may pick up an instrument and play a bit, or I might experiment with synths, effects, or instruments that are not necessarily related to the project I am working on, just to get music flowing in some way. Then it is about being steady and tenacious in this exercise and not allowing yourself to procrastinate, which I sometimes do anyway [laughs]…