Mixing comedy with the cinematic.
Most TV sitcoms / comedies don’t feature a lot of music. Title track, bumpers, end credits and a few popular tracks as source music and Bob’s your uncle - or business partner!
When we landed the commission to score ‘Dead Pixels’, we took a completely different approach. It’s the first British TV show set around a video game, in this case the fictional ‘Kingdom Scrolls’, half the show is set in this virtual world which connects the 4 main characters. Think “World of Warcraft”, work together in small teams to achieve big things, unlock new items, improve your character and make your way through the narrative arc that our characters have worked for 2 years before we meet them, the end goal ultimately to destroy the “Hive Mother”.
Our first task was to create the musical fantasy world of Kingdom Scrolls. The budget didn’t extend to a live orchestral score, but as luck would have it, we own the rights to the score from a fantasy role playing game, our BAFTA nominated score to Primal. The producers were over the moon, an actual fantasy RPG score, what could be more fitting! We found the most suitable cues and wrote sampled orchestral cues to glue them all together, this gave Kingdom Scrolls a musical identity, the director Al even regarded it as the Tanardaal (hero of the game) theme.
We love to subvert the audience, the juxtaposition of serious vs. comedy. This worked perfectly here, the ever-so-serious epic fantasy cues we wrote to play over the hilarious situations, sometimes the characters take this game so seriously, serious music reinforced the ridiculous even more!
The clip above we found on YouTube shows Meg meeting Russel and joining the game, he’s not the sharpist nail in the box, you can hear some of the serious orchestral cut scene music as Meg tells the story of the game at 1:56.
Once we had our theme, we could use this in a variety of guises. We recorded Matt Wadsworth playing authentic medieval lutes, we turned our hand to write 8-bit Commodore 64 jingles - back to where it started for Barn! - , mobile phone music, contemporary tracks and even a 3 piece experimental jazz track for episode 5. If you listen carefully, the Tanardaal theme is in all of them.
We didn’t write everything, Ninja Tunes provided a short title track and a remix of the Bomb the Bass classic, ‘Megablast’ for the closing credits, a nod to Xenon 2 from the Commodore Amiga. The rest was pretty much ours.
The show aired from March - May 2019. If you have access to Channel 4’s streaming portal, all 6 episodes can be watched here
It was a brilliant project to be involved with, and our first bonafide hit TV show. Hoorah!
We’re all crossing our fingers for a Season 2!