After working together on Shrill and The Republic of Sarah, composers Anna Waronker and Craig Wedren were looking for something new and creepy. When the chance to score Showtime’s Yellowjackets came to them, the duo immediately jumped on it.
Both Waronker and Wedren were in bands before they started to work together, Wedren in Shudder to Think and Waronker in That Dog, but each of their journeys led them to film and television. After circling each other in the same musical sphere for years, they finally got the opportunity to work together on Hulu’s Shrill. “Shrill was a great first project for us,” says Wedren, “because Shrill has a lot of pop sensibility and it’s very contemporary but in an alternative way which suits both of us.”
“[After working together], I was like, ‘we should really do something creepy,’” says Waronker, “and he was like, ‘well… I have an idea’, and so then we started working on Yellowjackets.”
Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson created Yellowjackets, about four women involved in a 1996 plane crash when they were teenagers. The series switches between their lives during the crash and 25 years later, as they try to move past the things they did to survive. The ensemble cast includes Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Juliette Lewis and Cristina Ricci as the adult versions of the girls.
Initially they were wary about all of the positive feedback they were getting from producers. “They said they wanted all the things that we thought we wanted, but producers often say that and get more and more conservative as a series goes on,” says Wedren. “This was that rarest of gifts where everything we did, they wanted more, they wanted further, they wanted richer, darker, weirder.”
“I drove and listened to the score when we were working on the soundtrack,” says Waronker, “and it was so different outside the little world that I see it in. It was amazing and it took on all these different life forms which I really enjoyed. It’s a crazy score.”
In addition to the score, the duo also created the theme song “No Return”. “‘No Return’ is a hybrid of a bunch of end credits instrumental offerings that Anna and I made,” says Wedren.
“For the theme, they wanted elements of each one,” says Waronker. “We had to take all of the elements we loved and mash them, and then we knew when it was right and we knew when the right moments were happening.”
“It was a real combination of microsurgical craft mixed with great bursts of inspiration,” says Wedren.
Waronker and Wedren know they will be working together again in different styles, but Yellowjackets is the project that really encompasses both of their passions. “We really do feel like there’s so many other areas that we could explore,” says Waronker, “but this is really where both of our hearts lie, in doing this really kind of guttural, beautiful, nasty and out there avant-garde stuff…”
“High contrast, beautiful, horrific, noisy, transcendent, fun,” adds Wedren.
Showtime has renewed Yellowjackets for a second season.
Click the video above to watch the full interview.