Why Doctor Who Went Back to Basics With Its New Theme Song

Do we doo, will we will we, we doooooo, doo we dooo! Jodie Whittaker and her glass-ceiling-shattering entrance aren’t the one issues delighting Whons’ eardrums with the latest season of Doctor Who, because of a revamp of the present’s theme tune to usher within the reign of the 13th Doctor.

British-Nigerian composer Segun Akinola was tapped for the honour of reinventing the tune followers know and love, however as a substitute of going overboard with a textbook “change every little thing” model, Akinola tells Vulture he seemed again at Who’s authentic theme 5 many years prior, believing the spirit of the unique was all that was wanted to weave one of the best sonic tapestry. Earlier this week, Vulture spoke with Akinola about his artistic course of, the opposite Who themes he labored on that didn’t make the minimize, and the enjoyment of the theremin.

How did you land such an excellent gig? I can’t consider one other sequence that presents a chance like this.
I do know, proper? It was fairly a cool story — I acquired a random name one morning saying, “We put you ahead for Doctor Who, and the executives are involved in talking with you, do you thoughts if we go in your cellphone quantity to allow them to name you?” I clearly mentioned sure, put the cellphone down, did a dance, and for awhile didn’t fairly perceive what had occurred. From that time, it was a sequence of getting conversations with [showrunner] Chris Chibnall and [executive producer] Matt Stevens.

Did they have already got a sonic construction in thoughts?
Once I had the job, that’s once we talked about what we needed to do. We turned out having comparable ideas about wanting the center of it to be the unique theme. They have been actually wonderful in giving me house and freedom to be artistic. What they actually burdened quite a few instances was they needed me to convey my creativity and my ideas, reasonably than it being a case of telling me precisely what I wanted to do. I had a number of time to consider concepts and mess around with concepts.

What parts from earlier themes did you need to hold in yours, and the way did you need to improve it for this new period?
I needed to return to the unique theme. I actually needed that to be the center and the core of no matter I used to be going to do. I used to be in a position to pay money for the unique recordings from the present’s archivist, after which I used to be in a position to study them and convey my interpretations and viewpoints to it. In the ultimate theme, what you've are quite a few parts from the unique. Some as they have been, however most of them are performed with some extra parts.

Why did you need to reinterpret the unique theme, versus different eras of Doctor Who’s music?
It was such a tremendous theme. Since I had considerably of a clean slate now, the brand new theme provided the chance to return and assume, If we’re attempting to return take a look at this recent, having been via quite a few years of various variations, why not return to the theme that began all of it? It was a suggestion from Chris and Matt, reasonably than a provocation of “it must be this.” It’s remnant of the previous and it’s additionally daring and recent and new.

How did your artistic course of department out from that?
The very first thing I did was the different themes, truly, just like the scores for the characters — and never as a way of procrastination. [Laughs.] I needed to begin establishing the sound of the sequence after which flip my consideration to the theme, as a result of that manner I'd be capable of perceive the path I’d need to go in. When I acquired to the theme, it was a case of tinkering and experimenting. One of the issues I did was I created three variations of the theme — the opposite two have been fairly much more experimental and completely different. I actually needed to ask questions on how far I might play with it and fiddle with. It made the path to go in actually apparent.

How would you outline the sound of the sequence?
Without giving something away about what’s coming this season, it’s a case of getting a reset. What we tried to do was have the music trendy. That was one of many pillars. It was having a number of influences.

What influences did you prefer?
They ranged from Adele to Emeli Sandé to Rag’n’Bone Man to classical composers like Iannis Xenakis and Georg Haas. It didn’t must be definable as one “factor” or one “sound.” It’s not simply digital or simply classical. I pulled from each style — all led by the story.

What different varieties of sounds did you experiment with? You talked about these three completely different themes.
Yes, there have been three variations, one in every of which you clearly hear within the present. It was one of many earlier variations I made, truly. The different two have been far more ambient and far slower. I’d classify these two as experiments to see what the theme would sound like as bizarre, ambient, and experimental. There’s a little bit of an ambient soundscape within the background of the ultimate theme as properly to present it a way of house. Of course, the theremin remained.

That was by no means going to be excluded, I think about!
I wouldn’t dare!