At WandaVision, composer Christophe Beck was tasked with creating music for two distinct worlds and finding ways to bridge the gap between them.
The first was a “sitcom world”, forcing him to write “loving, faithful and genuine tributes” to classic series, from the 1950s to the 2000s.
For the latter, which he describes as the “outside world”, he would need feathers in the “contemporary” style associated with the “typical Marvel movie”.
One of the most difficult aspects of Beck’s job has been to find a musical approach to the moments when these two worlds collided. Ultimately, however, he and director Matt Shakman found their way through “a lot of experimentation and a lot of communication.”
The resulting score, connecting these two worlds, is what Beck calls his “most strongly thematic” to date.
WandaVision is a genre series created for Disney + by Jac Schaeffer, which picks up weeks after the events of Avengers: Endgame. It focuses on Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), two overpowered beings living their ideal suburban life in the town of Westview, New Jersey, who begin to suspect that all is not as it seems.
For Beck, the “juiciest” creative opportunities presented by WandaVision came into the realm of more traditional MCU scoring. While he came to the project with an acquaintance with television, from the 70s to the 90s, which informed his work on the sitcom side, he brought in “specialist” Alex Kovacs to lead the creation of the music. of previous decades.
The composer understood Marvel’s music well, having previously composed The ant Man and its sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp. But in the latest installment of Deadline’s Production Value video series, he notes that what most prepared him for this show, of such an emotional and stylistic range, was his experience working on big screen comedies. .
“My first big feature film success was Bring it on, the cheerleader comedy, which I think celebrated its 20th anniversary not too long ago. As is pretty typical in this industry, your first success sort of defines you, and I ended up working in the comedy genre for many years, ”he says. “One of the things about comedy is that you, as a songwriter, have to… be ready for anything – any kind of style, any kind of approach to writing – and that got me. made very versatile. “
A recently nominated Emmy winner for his work on WandaVision, Beck was introduced to music through piano lessons at the age of five. Her brother, pianist and composer Chilly Gonzales, was “the other very musical person” in her family. “We grew up making music together,” Beck shares, “first being in groups together, then being in groups competing against each other, and finally writing complete musicals together. “
The composer grew up in the 80s and was very early inspired by the music of Styx, Depeche Mode and New Order. “These are the bands that really shaped my sense of phrasing and melody,” he says. “Actually, not that long ago, I went to see Depeche Mode at the Hollywood Bowl, and I felt like I needed to take a cold shower afterwards because the stuff I was hearing m ‘really pushed back and made me realize how much of an influence their melodic sensibility was on my writing to this day.
After graduating from high school, Beck enrolled at Yale as a computer science student, pushed by parents who “weren’t convinced” that he could make a living in music. But after “almost failing in school,” he managed to convince his parents to let him pursue what he truly loved.
Beck was introduced to film and television music while attending USC, studying there under Jerry Goldsmith. From the Oscar-winning composer, he learned lessons that marked him on “the value of economy” in composition, on “the importance of coming up with a simple central theme that can serve as the basis for an entire film score, regardless of what type of room you are talking about.
“He could write a love theme, then take a few notes on that love theme and develop them into an action piece – a very intense and scary chase scene, for example,” Beck recalls. “His ability to take a few strong, central ideas and turn them into an entire score, I think was Beethovenian in his efficiency and the skill he brought to it.”
While at USC, Beck found his first television job, “ghostwriting for another songwriter” on the low budget Canadian series, White Fang. “I remember being up all night to finish a few minutes of music for this show, then [going and doing] my classes the next day, ”he says,“ and eventually that led to me being assigned the show for another season. “
Beck later found his big break on Buffy the vampire slayer, The WB’s beloved supernatural series, which he joined in Season 2. “The show… was an incredible training ground,” he says. “Each show was treated like a mini feature film. The themes of the series… really allowed for an incredibly cinematic palette, musically.
What Beck likes about his work are “the times when there is an often accidental, but ultimately perfect marriage” of music and storytelling.
“It’s intoxicating and magical,” he says. “These are the times I live for.”
Check out our full conversation with the composer above.