INTERVIEW: Composer Dominik Scherrer Marries Sounds For Amazon’s The Widow

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The Widow is an Amazon thriller series that takes Kate Beckinsale from Wales to the Congo where danger and intrigue await. Emmy-nominated composer Dominik Scherrer adds the sonic layer that takes all the drama to new heights.

The Widow stars Kate Beckinsale as Georgia Wells, a widow who lost her husband in a plane crash in Africa three years earlier. However, a news report on violence in the Congo leads Georgia to believe that her hubby is still alive and well. Soon, the titular widow is chasing the mystery but in her way are thugs, a husband that doesn’t want to be found, and the African heat which reportedly took its toll on Kate Beckinsale.

PopAxiom made a vow to Dominik Scherrer that we would interview him for better or worse, until about 30 minutes do us part, about making music, the award-winning Requiem, and Amazon’s The Widow.

Award Winner

The night before our interview, Dominik received his second Ivor Novello Award, this time for Best Television Soundtrack for the score to the Netflix/BBC series Requiem. The Ivor is an Oscar-level big deal in the UK, and so the post-award celebration was undoubtedly a big deal too. “It was certainly a late night last night.”

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Dominik’s work on Requiem included co-composer Natasha Khan, better known as musical act Bat for Lashes. “Natasha had worked previously with Chloë Thomson, the cinematographer on Requiem and she was the one who suggested bringing in Natasha.”

The rest is award-winning history. “We did a few weeks together in my studio where we were kind of bashing out ideas and came up with some crazy stuff. It was quite a lot of fun.”

Audio-Visual

Dominik comes from a musical family and trained in the “flute and piano” from an early age. But, like most teenagers, Dominik, “… felt a need to rebel against that whole … classical music environment. I had a band and bought a synthesizer and moved more into rock territory. I was singing and making more contemporary music.”

Classical training lead to a rebellious age of experimentation. But there was always an audio-visual component to making music for Dominik. “I was always interested in image and music together. So, when I was a teenager, I was making films as well. One of the main reasons was so that I could have films to write music too.”

Those movies were, “… an adaptation of German literature. I was into the ‘Werner Herzog school of filmmaking.'”

Later, Dominik, “… started to write these operas that were made for the screen. At the same time, a lot of people started to ask me to write soundtracks for their films.”

A few dozen or so scores later: “Eventually I sort of realized ‘I’m a film composer now.'”

About The Widow

Generally, Dominik says, “These kinds of projects, you’re not really given specific direction. Your job as a composer is to put together a concept. And then you discuss that.”

However, he adds a desire from director Sam Donovan to have, “A lot of vocals. It’s always emotive to have voices.”

Creating music for a television series is a process that includes some evolution. “On a 50-minute episode, there might be 35-40 minutes of music.” And The Widow is eight episodes long.

But Dominik thinks, “The first episode is always the hardest, but as it goes on, you can relax more into the score.”

widow-amazon-series

Into the Congo

Helping to inspire the soundscapes of the show is the location which Dominik says, “… has to be reflected in the score.”

He adds, “Rather than having a few instruments here and there that it should be part of the DNA of the score.”

Dominik shares a little musical knowledge about the sounds of the region: “One of the amazing things the Congo is famous for is these amazing guitar riffs. There are some amazing artists. I thought that could be translated into something that would work in a thriller context.”

About The Widow‘s thrill ride, Dominik says, “It ramps up definitely.”

Wrapping Up

Dominik was classically raised but certainly branched out to all corners of the music-sphere. So, what’s in his creative DNA? “Bach, that’s still the big thing that lit the musical fire and stays with me all the time.

Inspiration from the less classical realm includes, “Nick Cave. I first heard him when I was 15 or 16 and his band The Birthday Party.”

In the film soundtrack world, there’s always John Williams. But, for Dominik, “The collaborations between director Peter Greenway and composer Michael Nyman like A Zed & Two Noughts (1985) or The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) expanded the way film and music could coexist. I was electrified by work like that and began my search to explore more possibilities.”

All eight episodes of The Widow are available on Amazon. And more music from Dominik is on its way. “I’m working again with Tom Shankland, who I’ve worked with a few times in the past. He was a director on Ripper StreetAgatha Christie’s MarpleThe Missing. We’re working on an eight-part BBC/Netflix drama set in the 70s in southeast Asia.” Dominik will even be heading to Bangkok to record tracks for the new series, so, stay tuned!

Thanks to Dominik Scherrer and Impact24 PR for making this interview possible.

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Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.

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