Interview: Composer Dominic Lewis Talks Peter Rabbit 2, Monsters at Work and The King’s Man

Dominic Lewis scored the recently released Sony Pictures Animation feature Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, starring James Corden, Margot Robbie and Rose Byrne; and the upcoming animated series Monsters at Work, starring Ben Feldman and Billy Crystal, which is currently streaming on Disney+. Lucky for us, Dominic reached out to to discuss what it was like scoring these projects along with the anticipated Matthew Vaughn feature, The King’s Man.

Lewis’ music can also be heard on Disney XD animated series’ DuckTales, starring Lin-Manuel Miranda and Allison Janney. In addition to his score, he has also written original songs for the series including “Just Not Good Enough,” which he co-sings with Ben Schwartz, who plays Dewey on the show.

Notable credits include Free Birds, starring Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler, for which he received an Annie Awards nomination for “Outstanding Achievement in Music”; Ridley Scott produced Emmy-winning series The Man in the High Castle, starring Alexa Davalos and Rupert Evans; Sony Pictures Animation’s Peter Rabbit, starring James Corden, Rose Byrne and Domnhall Gleeson; Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, starring Wendi McLendon-Covey, Chris Parnell and Ken Jeong; Amazon Studios comedy/family film My Spy, starring Dave Bautista, Kristen Schaal and Ken Jeong; and many more.

RELATED: Monsters at Work Trailer Previews Pixar’s New Disney+ Series

Ames: What was it like retuning to the world of Peter Rabbit?

It was amazing! It was like coming back to family. It was really cool because I was actually in England doing The King’s Man when director Will Gluck started filming the second one so I was able to visit the set as well and hang out for a bit and start talking about the musical process way earlier — the first one was super early as well. I was involved even earlier on the second one.

Obviously, coming back for a sequel it’s nice to have themes already in place and have a chance to let them evolve and come up with new themes for new characters. I’ve done sequels before, but sequels where I didn’t work on the first one — so, in those instances, I’m always trying to push new themes and get rid of the old ones . Following someone as esteemed as Randy — and when I did Goosebumps 2, following Danny Elfman — that’s when I’m like, “Oh my God, how do I do this and not annoy anyone by ruining the music of their childhood?” It was a case of using Randy as inspiration and taking it to a slightly different — the story goes to a different place within Monstropolis and within Monsters, Inc. So, it was kind of easier to adapt the sonics and style of the music while keeping it very much in the Jazz oriented world. It was easier because we were introducing new characters to find that slightly different strand of what Monsters, Inc. is. Obviously, I have to fully dive in when it comes to being on the Scare Floor or when we’re with Sully and Mike – I’m heavily playing into the world that Randy created.

It was nice to have that grounding in the original material as a spring box. And Roberts Gannaway, the showrunner, was very adamant that it being Disney that every single theme had to be an earworm. It had to be catchy. I think I went through a two or three-month process of basically just sorting out the themes before looking at any picture because he wanted the themes to be so strong. That was cool because I had this awesome toolkit of catchy tunes that I could sprinkle anywhere. It was a daunting experience, but super fun.

Ames: Is there a genre or musical style you’d like to tackle that you haven’t already?

I’ve sort of done a little bit of everything. The thing I’m doing right now that I can’t talk about is sort of that one thing, I haven’t been able to do on a large scale … I’m scared to say what that even is because I haven’t been given the green light to talk about that yet. The one thing I would love to do is to do more floral orchestral writing to a non-animated film. I’d love the chance to be able to do something very orchestral and very complicated in that kind of John Williams/Alan Silvestri vein … in a Steven Spielberg/Robert Zemeckis world, ala Amblin. You know, late 70s and 80s?

The King’s Man is all orchestral, but it also has that Matthew Vaughn thing of being very cool. Any time I used too many woodwinds he would say, “What are you doing, it sounds like animation! We don’t do that!” I would get slapped on the wrist. So, it would be fun to work in that classical world that shaped all those 70s and 80s action movies. I’ve done that on a small scale, but I’d love to do it on a big ole film that everyone recognizes as a big ole homage to that world.

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