Interview: Composer Brian McOmber for IT COMES AT NIGHT

For the release of Trey Edward Schults thriller, IT COMES AT NIGHT, Shannon spoke with composer Brian McOmber, former drummer of Dirty Projects, about how he got into music, his inspiration for the score, and what we can expect to see from him in the future. 

Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Brian, thank you so much for speaking with us today! To start things off, for those who may not be familiar with you or your work, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Brian McOmber: Well I studied molecular and evolution genetics at university. I have no formal training aside from studying drumset with Pheeroan AkLaff at Wesleyan University while I was working in the biology department in my early 20's. But I began playing drums seriously at 10 years old and started a rock band with other kids in the neighborhood I grew up in. We stuck together through our teenage years and later became active in the underground hardcore/metal/punk/improvised music scene around New England, while keeping involved in our high school concert, jazz and marching bands. I joined the band Dirty Projectors in 2006 and toured with them for a long time. Working with Dave Longstreth and other artists like Bjork, David Byrne and St. Vincent got me really excited about collaborating outside the band. It was during the end of my time with Projectors that I began scoring some of my friends films, which pretty quickly snowballed into a full time thing. My first film was at Sundance and my second was at Cannes in the Directors Fortnight. I guess you could say I caught the bug and I fell in love with scoring all different kinds of films and making all sorts of music. 

NC: How did you get involved in scoring the music for IT COMES AT NIGHT? 

BM: I scored the feature and the short version of KRISHA, which Trey also directed. Both me and cinematographer Drew Daniels have worked on all of Trey's films up until now. We seem to be a good creative match, the three of us. 

NC: What was the process like in scoring this soundtrack and did director Trey Edward Schults give you direction or were you given free reign to explore different sounds that you wanted? 

BM: Trey and A24 were super lenient and gave me a lot of freedom, which was fantastic. Of course, Trey and I spoke a lot about spotting, what kind of instrumentation we would like to focus on and what the role of the music would be in certain scenes, but other than that I would just follow my instincts and felt confident that I had the freedom to do what I wanted. It has always been that way working with Trey in my experience. We are brutally honest with each other and he will tell me if he doesn't like something or if he wants me to explore another direction. But, for the most part, we see eye-to-eye and our instincts align most of the time. 

NC: How did you go about choosing Kyp Malone and Angel Deradoorian for this soundtrack? 

BM: I collaborated with a lot of people on this score. Steve Flato, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Paul Wiancko, Jordan Dykstra, Ben Greenberg...I love bringing in different musicians with different strengths and instincts. I know Angel and Kyp from the Dirty Projectors days. They are both really great musicians and I brought them in for very specific purposes, just as I did with everyone else. Angel is great at getting these breathing, warm, lush analogue synth tones, and Kyp is a great bass player with very simple, subtle, musical instincts. I also just like how egoless they are. I have worked with a lot of egos over the years and it's always a drag...but never with this group of musicians. I am very grateful to them all. 

NC: Horror scores seem to be garnering quite a lot of attention and have become extremely popular in the last few years. What do you think is causing that upswing?

BM: I'm not sure. I suppose there has been a trend lately of melodic, arpeggiated, synth-heavy music in the style of John Carpenter. It's not just horror film music. It seems to me that a lot of pop music in the last few years has been referencing the late 70s and early 80s. It's actually something Trey talked about a lot. We tried to be careful not to indulge the trend too much, even though we both love this kind of music and can understand its popularity. Our references were more Toru Takemitsu, Bernard Herman, Penderecki, Xenakis...contemporary classical music that focuses on textures, tones and density. 

NC: Last but not least, what can fans of yours expect from you in the future?

BM: I have a film called THE STRANGE ONES out on the festival circuit right now. John Waters suggested a trigger warning for it during a recent Q&A, which I took as a compliment. I just started working on a bluegrass/folk score for a feature that stars Tessa Thomson and later this summer I'm planning to help out my friends from the Borscht Corporation in Miami with a feature comprised of a bunch of shorts revolving around a high powered speedboat. 

IT COMES AT NIGHT is in theaters nationwide.