To celebrate the release of the Why We Ride soundtrack, we sat down with composer Steven Gutheinz to talk about his inspiration for the incredible music that sets the tone for every scene of the movie.
What is your background as a composer?
My background is mostly as a film/TV/commercial composer. I’m classically trained and I love orchestral and chamber music and have written some concert music, but most of my real world experience has been as a media composer working in Hollywood.
Was there anything in particular that inspired you while working on Why We Ride?
The filmmakers had this amazing and very detailed outline of the film, complete with photos and descriptive text, on the wall of a huge warehouse space that doubled as the production office. It covered the entire length of the warehouse and it was impressive. Structure is such a huge part of composing music, and to see a film laid out like that and to hear the director describe in detail his vision for the music was inspiring. Our initial conversation about the wall stuck with me throughout the scoring process, and I’d like to think we were true to his vision for the music.
How did motorcycles influence your work on this film?
I’m inspired by visuals, and there were so many great visual moments in this film and, of course, they all involve a motorcycle. One of my favorite moments involving sound is the end of the Daytona scene where the pitch of the motorcycle matches the pitch of the music so well, it almost sounds like it’s part of the music. I love it. This is wholly due to the great work of the sound designers: they pitched the motorcycle sound to match the music.
How closely did you work with the filmmakers to develop the soundtrack?
Very closely. I made very detailed mockups of each cue, to the point that there is almost no difference between the mockups and the final cues aside from live orchestra and better mixing. This is par for the course with film music, and it allows the filmmakers to hear the music and give feedback as I’m writing it. They also were able put my mockups in the film as cues were approved and they were finalizing their edit.
What piece in Why We Ride is your favorite?
My favorite track is probably “The Waltz,” which coincidentally is the only cue on the soundtrack that wasn’t written to picture. The plan was for me to write a waltz that they would then edit a scene to. That didn’t pan out as planned, but I went ahead and recorded it and we used it in the end credits, which worked out great. I’m so glad it made it into the film.
Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?
Believe it or not, I have never ridden a motorcycle. Ever. Not even a scooter.