Jeff Ames of ComingSoon spoke with composer Dave Porter about his score for the acclaimed series’ final season. Better call Saul.
Dave Porter is a film and television composer based in Los Angeles. He began his classical music education on the piano at the age of five, but his interest in electronic music as a teenager led him to start composing his own music. He studied composition in both classical and electronic music at Sarah Lawrence College under John Iannelli and began his professional career as an assistant at Philip Glass’ recording studio in New York.
Dave is perhaps best known for his long-term creative relationship with one of Hollywood’s most respected figures, Vince Gilligan. In the last few years Dave has also worked with James Franco on his masterful film. disaster artist, for which Franco was awarded the Golden Globe. Dave is working on the soundtrack for his 9th season (almost 200 episodes!) of James Spader’s world famous drama. Black listand will soon begin work on the 3rd season of the hit series Starz. Hightown. Other recent work includes an AMC series that defies boundaries. preacher Produced by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin.
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Jeff Ames: So you’re coming to the end of Better Call Saul. How do you feel now?
Dave Porter: Negative in big caps. I’m so busy and purposely involved in what we’re doing that I just block all thoughts of the end from my mind. I can’t even put it in my head. When I stop to contemplate this, the feeling is very bittersweet. It’s such a unique experience for anyone to work with the same group of people for fifteen years, and it’s just hard for me to imagine that my life hasn’t been like that. At the same time, I’m so incredibly proud of the amount of work and the way we’re gathering here. There is so much gratitude, appreciation and pride in this feeling.
When you first started Saul, did you ever feel like you had unfinished business – for example, did you have a second opportunity to explore different themes and concepts that you couldn’t solve in Breaking Bad?
Absolute truth. And I didn’t even know how true it would be. When we first started Better call Saul, I thought, «Okay, some of these characters we know, some we don’t. Same story.» I figured I could expand the world of music I’d written for Breaking Bad while still staying attached. To my surprise, the idea was immediately rejected. [laughs] Peter and Vince, who really wanted to start over. At the time, I didn’t fully understand it. I felt like we already knew this character and there was no need for such a tonal difference.
As the years went by, the importance of that became key because it allowed me to create this whole new universe and these new characters, knowing how much the story would eventually catch up with the Breaking Bad universe we knew before. This allowed me to slowly integrate parts of this Breaking Bad sound – or palette, if you will – as we moved forward, but I didn’t have to start with any of that. I could imagine it in a new way – every little piece here and there when we meet these little pieces of the universe from Breaking Bad in Saul’s story.
I would say no we are in season 6 the score is bigger than ever like the score is in Breaking Bad.
CONNECTED: Better Call Saul season 6: episode 5 recap, theories and thoughts
Where did the theme of Saul come from?
Glad you asked. I had nothing to do with this topic at all. [laughs]. In fact, it was decided so early that I wasn’t even involved in the project yet. They found a piece of music by the English band Little Barry. Something about that very atmosphere resonated strongly with Peter and Vince.
Did it somehow influence your music, because you could see in what direction they wanted to go?
This is a really good question. I don’t think I ever thought of it that way. A little, I think, is the answer. This helped me get the tonal scale where Vince and Peter were at the beginning Better call Saul and the changes we had to make. Perhaps if it had affected the tonality of the score, it would have happened sooner. Now the score I’m writing is very far from where they were standing. Similarly, Season 6’s music is very different from Season 1’s music.
And like you said, it’s much darker. That being said, there’s a lot of frivolity in the series as well. How do you reconcile light moments with darker ones?
This is one of the most difficult parts, and it constantly Better call Saul — navigation between different story arcs. All paths intersect here and there, but each of them has its own story. The catch for me, especially this last season, for example, is the funny Jimmy/Kim moments when they make their capers and play Hamlin, but I want to enjoy that frivolity but also make sure there’s gravity in them. This is. Make sure it has enough gravity so that there are bigger stakes that you feel even when they are having fun. We know they do it for many reasons that reflect something about who they are, because normal people wouldn’t do that. [laughs] do these things.
So, in moments like this, I always try to focus on the bigger picture. To me, that’s one of the most important roles a soundtrack can play in a great drama like this, always keeping the bigger picture in view and what are the reasons why it’s happening and what are the motives of the people who are doing it. make them. Because you know these writers are smart enough for it to matter. And the reason for all these things, even if they seem small or funny, whether it’s Jimmy throwing a BINGO night or one of those seemingly lighter moments, it’s based on the history of these characters and what drives them, and, in Ultimately, there is something really tragic about all of this.
As a composer, do you want people to hear your music, or do you prefer to be manipulated behind the scenes?
My personal opinion is that, in the vast majority of cases, the score should always obey the story and the narrative. And most of the time I think if it’s your first time watching, if the music is what you notice first, then I didn’t do my job well. It has to be an integral part of all the creative choices that have been made of how something is filmed, edited and played – all of these elements together form that experience. I hope you haven’t noticed any of these specific parts of the ship. You enjoy being a spectator and the story is being told to you. I think this is always my main goal. There are some instances where the music can be a bit more impactful than others, and that’s fine as long as it works within the context of the story and the overall production of the TV show.
I know you can’t spoil anything, but is there any particular piece of music you’re looking forward to from the public this season?
[Laughs] Obviously, I can’t say anything about what’s to come. I don’t think it’s any secret that the biggest question marks are the fates of people we know that we don’t see or hear in Breaking Bad. These characters, especially Nacho and Kim, have important storylines and stories to tell. If you watched the first few episodes, Nacho was one of the characters I enjoyed writing for the entire series. It was a special pleasure for me to follow his journey. I’m very proud of the music we wrote for his storyline.
Is there any chance we’ll release a Better Call Saul record similar to the El Camino soundtrack?
Nothing has been announced yet. I’ve been so busy with the show. There have been discussions about this, and I certainly hope to do so. It just comes down to time. I usually have one more season to work on it, so I usually have a big window to release it because there’s still interest. Now we’ve come to a brick barrier and we should be able to release it while it’s still useful to people. I certainly hope that we can do it, but so far no news on this.
What’s in store for you after Better Call Saul? Are you taking a break?
I really hope to take a little break. The end of this particular journey, it’s Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul/El Camino journey, like I said, I hadn’t even begun to think about it. I’m so deep into it right now and I will be for most of this year to be honest. When all this is over, I will have a chance to think about what lies ahead for me. Will he work on other films? Or an album? Or some record I’ve been too busy in recent years. Plus a bittersweet ending Better call Saul there’s a silver lining in that I’m sure all the talented people I’ve had to work with over the years on these shows have a lot to say about themselves. I’m not sure what the future holds for us, but I’m sure that although we may not work together again in the same way, I will have the opportunity to write music for these people again later.