A werewolf, a vampire and a ghost don't sound like they would make beautiful music together, but for two season on SyFy's Being Human composer FM Le Sieur has scored the ups and downs of these supernatural roommates.
Now Le Sieur is putting out a collection of the music that has defined our time with Aidan, Sally and Josh. With the third season of the supernatural drama premiering on January 14, I was lucky enough to talk to Le Sieur about how he approaches scoring the show and what he likes about Being Human. Plus, we talked about the third season of the show, where fans can look forward to some increased bonding between the roommates.
How did you get involved with Being Human?
What attracted you to Being Human? The premise stated outright can sound a little bit hokey. You know -- it's a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost who are roommates. It doesn't seem like a show that is as serious and as dark as it has turned into.
I really liked the roommates part! Of course, it's a werewolf and a vampire and a ghost, but it's more about the friendship. The roommates together seem true to real life and I can imagine where those three characters come from. I don't know, I found it very cool right away.
How did you establish the musical tone for the show?
When I got the project and it was a vampire project I knew there were a lot of vampire shows around, so I really wanted to find my own voice. I wanted to avoid the clichés and get my own voice out there. So I really started with the character of Aidan [Sam Witwer]. I tried to get an urban sound, something more edgy. I tried to give it a dark tone but with my twist.
So I know you probably can't say much, but is there anything you can tease about the new season coming up?
No I can't say much! I'm not allowed! But it's a great season, you have to watch it! So many things happen in the third season, it's very cool.
The thing about the third season is it goes a bit back like in the first season. The interaction between the three is very close. Last year sometimes Aidan had his own thing with Suren [Dichen Lachman] and Sally [Meaghan Rath] was with the Reaper, but this year they really interact a lot.
That's great because the chemistry between those three is so good.
Yea, it's a great cast!
What are your inspirations for the sound of the show? Are you more inspired by the scripts or the cast?
My initial sketches were because of the script. But normally as soon as I see the moving picture in the edit there's something happening in my head and I've got a lot of ideas. I wrote a couple of sketches before seeing the first episode, but when I saw the first episode everything made more sense. My surprise was the funny side of the story. I didn't feel it as much in the script until I saw the episode and so it made my music evolve in that direction. Normally it's the edits of the episodes that make the lights go on in my head.
What's your process like for scoring an episode?
When I receive the episode I first look at it and take notes of everywhere I see music. I look at every scene taking notes and then I talk to the showrunner, this year it's Anna Fricke. So we watch together and we discuss where the music comes in and where it comes out. We discuss emotion and what we really want to underline with music.
Normally -- can you believe it -- in one episode there's an average of 42 cues of music! There's much more music than we'd imagine. And I love the fact that sometimes the music is there, but it's not up front, but it's in the back under the dialogue and it really helps to create the vibe. I like that very much.
Then I start writing and after five or six days I send that to Anna and they look at it and they come back with notes. Then there might be some fine-tuning and then I mix with the sound engineer that works with me and we deliver. All this happens between eight and 10 days.
How has the score for the show evolved over the last three seasons as the show has gotten progressively darker?
When I started the first season I established a sound for Aidan that was kind of an urban sound. Josh [Sam Huntington] was earthier for the werewolf -- a lot of slide guitar and guitar, plus the piano for Sally. But that was only the beginning. After that I developed more and more themes. Sometimes if there's a new character it will take me in another direction. So sometimes a musical thing will only be for one character or sometimes it will be a global sound for one episode. That's the way it evolves.
Does each of the three main characters have their own distinct sound or does that, as you said, sort of evolve depending on the episode?
It evolves. This year I like it a lot because I can go back and see things that are so Aidan. Some characters, like in the first season Bishop [Mark Pellegrino] really had this crazy Middle East flute, and it was very snaky and very good for him. So that's one of the few that I really kept that thing for him. But the other ones, sometimes I mix up. I've written a lot of music for that show, I've got over 1,000 cues so far. And probably 50 or so major themes. It's been a lot of pleasure and fun working on the show.
How does the work on Being Human compare to your other work?
I've done work on other science fiction things, but on this one the quality of the cast and the quality of the episodes is much better. I have to be on my toes because it's very fast. I have a lot of work and it never stops. The big difference is when I was doing other science fiction I didn't have the right balance between drama and funny/quirky. Being Human has something very unique about it. Because it's dark and then suddenly it can be very funny, especially Josh. It makes the show even more fun and interesting for me to score.
Are there any big musical moments you're particularly proud of?
There's so much! But last year there was a scene when Suren was about to ask that guy to buy his house and at the same time the Orphans are caught in a house and if they stay there they're going to basically burn. There was a clock ticking and it was flipping back and forth. So the music had to keep up the tension and also underline the dialogue. I was very proud of that. I put that in the album by the way, it's called "The Orphans".
How did you choose the songs for the album?
When I started the process I had about 791 music cues. Then I had to find the best version and sometimes put music together and rework it. Sometimes music is good in a show, but on your couch it's just like 'eh.' I think I really wrote strong melodies for this show. So it was easy after a while to go "this is going to be fun to listen to by itself, it has a life by itself." If you love the show, it puts you back in the mood. I'm very happy and I hope that everyone enjoys it as much as me!
The digital Being Human soundtrack is available on iTunes and Amazon January 8. Catch the third season of Being Human on SyFy January 14 at 10 p.m. EST.