Daybreak is a series from Netflix based on the comic book of the same name and starring Colin Ford from Under the Dome that’s about the end of the world and the teenagers and cliques that survived to form new geopolitical dynamics in what’s left of Glendale, California. Making Daybreak sound awesome in a post-apocalyptic way is song producer Bryce Jacobs.
Colin Ford is Josh Wheeler, an outcast and unremarkable student who survives the initial chaos to make a new life in the apocalypse. Josh has a crush on Samaira “Sam” Dean, played by Sophie Simnett (Disney’s The Lodge), and navigates the treacherous new landscape to find her. One of the biggest obstacles is the adults who survived the blast as zombie-like “Ghoulies.” No doubt a nod to the orginal “ghouls” as they were called in Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. To make the world an extra bit dangerous, Daybreak’s post-apocalypse landscape features giant-sized, mutated pugs and a bizarre mix of new gangs that’s like a cross between Mad Max and The Warriors.
PopAxiom spoke with Bryce about his influences, the effect of “Stairway to Heaven,” and making music for the end of the world.
Bryce is an Australian native but has called the US home for eleven years now. From an early age, Bryce recalls, “Music’s always been part of my DNA. The first album I remember was Thriller by Michael Jackson. I also remember the NeverEnding Story soundtrack.”
For Bryce, there was always a variety of music from pop to classical. “I thought everyone listened to pop music and soundtrack music. I loved both … so somewhere in the middle of that is my happiest of places.”
Bryce turned 11 when his mom “… got me my first guitar, and then the following year, my dad got me my first electric guitar.”
Listen To This
A few months later, Bryce heard a song for the first time, that would change everything. “… I heard “Stairway to Heaven” … and I was absolutely all in.”
Led Zeppelin’s dynamic, multi-layered, the eight-minute epic was the catalyst for Bryce to deep-dive into music for the rest of his life. “From that one song, I became obsessed with so many different styles of music. There was this classical technique in there, these folky jazz harmonies … arpeggios as well … it got me studying music theory and musicianship”
Another vital layer to the song: “The way that the song is constructed is extremely cinematic as well.”
My love affair was underway. I went on to listen to Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, then it was around the time of the grunge era for me so a lot of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana.” Bryce continues, “The grunge era in Australia ran right into the electronic dance music of like Chemical Brothers and Prodigy. My guitar playing was very influenced by that as well.”
“All these things cross-pollinate to form your musical identity.”
Let’s Go Crazy
Bryce’s musical influences come from roots dug deep into the landscape but also spread wide through the rich soil. The 70s introduced synthesizers to mainstream music, the 80s ushered in the use of computers, and the 90s introduced some powerful, music-making software. Add in the rapidly rising influence of hip-hop, and you get a lot of musical experimentation and great variety. “You look at a song like Batdance by Prince, which I love. That was a huge hit. But it’s pretty abstract. It goes in and out of sampling. There’s this massive guitar solo in the middle.”
Bryce expands on music’s evolution. “The 20th century was a massive renaissance in music. From the 50s on to the late 90s, it was this incredible cross-pollination.”
The bottom line: “Pop music then was a free-for-all.”
Just Before Dawn
Daybreak’s Music Supervisor Andrea von Foerster (Happy Death Day, Modern Family) kicks off the show with “California Love” by Tupac with Dr. Dre. To create some original songs and covers for the series, Andrea “… called me up, and the concept sounded outstanding.”
On using “California Love” to get the show going, “That’s a big song and quite a brilliant choice.”
Daybreak feels familiar, with a global disaster that kills billions that lays ruin to the world, and leaves millions as shambling, thoughtless husks of humans. Yes, I’m describing zombies, but Daybreak takes its lore in a unique direction. Their zombies talk, repeating the last thought they had before the bomb. Bryce’s favorite line, “There’s a sale, 10% off group pants at Lulu Lemon.”
Daybreak is quick-witted and briskly paced while playfully bouncing around to the time just before the bomb. As a world of teenagers would do, new bands form, including a recurring one on the show. “The most important thing was to set up the sound for the band that was reflective of this world they’re living in.”
Bryce had to wonder what would be left to make music. “If there were a nuclear blast, they’d be grabbing these instruments that are very rough around the edges. Maybe missing a few strings. Without going too abstract, I wanted to give it this raw, trashy element, but, you know, cool trashy.”
The first song you hear from Daybreak’s fictional band is “Today” from Smashing Pumpkins. “I wanted to get the same kind of intensity, but do it in a raw context. Doing that with Today and then “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats and the same band playing that, by that point, the band has personality. The last band on Earth …”
Bryce explains an exchange about another cover song that appears on the show. “Same with ‘Making Love Out Of Nothing At All.’” Showrunner Aron Eli Coleite suggested to Bryce, “Imagine you went into the store and bought a sh*t keyboard.”
For Bryce, the band within Daybreak and many musical elements take on a deeper layer in Daybreak. “What I was doing was tied to the narrative. The band had a personality, and then there’s this American Ninja and American Idol mashup going on too.”
Who is part of Bryce’s creative DNA? “Thomas Newman has always had a beautiful aesthetic about him, and the way he approaches his music has so much personality to it. Danny Elfman is another big one. I’m a huge Nine Inch Nails fan and love what Trent Reznor does. Peter Gabriel, what he’s done with soundtracks is phenomenal.”
Having spent time at Remote Control, Bryce adds one more to the list, “Hans Zimmer, who has been such an inspiration to listen to and work with.”
Daybreak is available for streaming on Netflix. Bryce does work for the likes of DefJam and Universal records. So, what’s next? “Gutterpunks is a really cool short film that I did a few months ago. It’s in the festival circuit. It’s directed by Luke Arnold. It’s challenging to capture a world, especially drama, in 5, 10, 20 minutes, but it’s amazing.”
Thanks to Bryce Jacobs and Impact24 PR for making this interview possible.
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