Ti West Talks with Tyler Bates and Tim Williams on the Talkhouse Podcast

The indie-horror auteur talks music with his Pearl composers.

On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve gathered three guys for a very focused discussion about one of the year’s most exciting horror movies: Ti West, Tyler Bates, and Tim Williams.

Ti West is a director who’s made his name with a string of what I guess you’d call indie-horror movies—though I’m not sure that does justice to the kind of auteurist vision he has. With films like The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, he revealed a truly singular style. He tried his hand at a Western with the wild and wooly In A Valley of Violence in 2016, but returned to his horror roots this year with a pair of movies filmed back to back: X, which came out in March, and its prequel, Pearl, which is just hitting theaters now. For these two movies, which both star Mia Goth, West hooked up with indie powerhouse A24, which as you’ll hear in this chat, made a big bet on these two films—and since this chat took place, have now committed to a third in the franchise. If you like creepy, stylish horror, definitely check them out.

A big part of what makes both X and Pearl work is the music, and that’s where the two other guys on this chat come in. Tyler Bates is a composer who’s worked on music for an incredible array of films, from 300 to John Wick to Guardians of the Galaxy. But he knows horror, too, having worked on Rob Zombie’s string of early flicks as well. Bates is also a music producer, having recently done the new Starcrawler album, and he was, briefly, a member of Marilyn Manson. For the more old-fashioned orchestral score for Pearl, he recruited his friend and neighbor Tim Williams, who’s contributed to a ton of great film and TV scores over the past decade as well.

This chat among these three gets wonderfully granular about the world of film sound. Pearl is a prequel that takes place in 1918, so West wanted Bates to come up with something very old-school. That meant real orchestrations and the kinds of instruments and musical cues you don’t really hear anymore—and it works remarkably well. As you’ll hear in this conversation, West really thinks like an auteur: He’s concerned with every aspect of his movies, right down to whether the sound of crickets is going to interfere every so slightly with the score. All of that care definitely shows on screen, and you can hear when these guys talk how much they care about getting things just right. Enjoy.

Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Ti West, Tyler Bates, and Tim Williams for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform, and check out all the great written pieces on this very site. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!

(Photo Credit: center, Jim Louvau; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

Talkhouse curates musicians, actors, filmmakers, and others in their respective fields to speak one-on-one with their peers via the Talkhouse Podcast and Talkhouse Live events. The Talkhouse Podcast offers listeners a unique insight into the creative work of creators across all genres and generations. Subscribe now to stay in the loop on future episodes.