Welcome back to the Spool’s weekly interview podcast, More of a Comment, Really…, where editor-in-chief Clint Worthington talks to actors, filmmakers, composers and other figures from the realm of film and television.
For up-and-coming NY-based composer Jay Wadley, landing the composer gig for the latest from Charlie Kaufman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, was a dream come true. It’s the latest in a string of darlings he’s lent his delicate, idiosyncratic work to in the last couple of years, from the plaintive piano of Andrew Ahn’s thoughtful Driveways to award-winning Sundance darling I Carry You With Me.
But decoding Kaufman’s adaptation of Iain Reid’s novel, a twisty, meditative tale on loss, memory and the strangeness of relationships centered around a young woman (Jessie Buckley), her blinkered boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) and his batty parents (David Thewlis and Toni Collette), was no easy task. It required Wadley to put on many different stylistic hats, from crafting a Dairy Queen-like jingle that makes for one of the film’s most macabre earworms, to scoring a seven-minute “dream ballet” that puts the music front and center.
It’s work that neatly slides into Kaufman’s navel-gazing sensibilities, as chameleonic as it is deeply literary. Much like its characters, Wadley’s score evokes familiar rhythms just enough to make you grasp for where you recognize it, flitting between genre and mood with the same kind of nightmare logic in which Kaufman’s script revels.
We spoke to Jay Wadley about the challenge of scoring such a head-scratcher in I’m Thinking of Ending Things, as well as the hard-scrabble work of making your own opportunities in the composing world (he, along with previous guest Trevor Gureckis, run the NY-based composing and sound production firm Found Objects). Plus, hear an exclusive performance of a cue from the film’s score!