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Westworld Composer on Slipping Some Nine Inch Nails Into Season 4, Episode 5: Exclusive

Ramin Djawadi also explores the creation of the Lou Reed cover at the center of "Zhuangzi"

Westworld Nine Inch Nails Lou Reed
Ramin Djawadi (photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy) and Westworld (HBO)
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    [Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Westworld, Season 4 Episode 5, “Zhuangzi.” To read about the music of Episode 4, click here.]

    Did you catch the Nine Inch Nails cover in the newest episode of Westworld? Don’t feel bad if you missed it — so did Consequence, upon initial viewing. But composer Ramin Djawadi, as part of our weekly series of conversations about the music of Season 4, was kind enough to point out that yes, when Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) and Hale (Tessa Thompson) are having an awkward lunch together, there’s a subtle solo piano inclusion of “The Day the World Went Away” from The Fragile in the background.

    “If I didn’t know, I probably would’ve missed it too,” Djawadi says, once again reinforcing that when it comes to the HBO sci-fi drama, there’s always a lot brewing under the surface. Though in the case of this week’s music, the seeds were actually first planted by the trailers for Season 4.

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    “Zhuangzi,” the fifth episode of the season, includes some big reveals, mostly for Christina, as she comes to realize that she has more control than she ever realized over the future world in which she lives. Of course, she’s not the only one able to bend reality for others, as we see when Hale decides to entertain herself by playing with her human toys, making them dance while a keyboard player with bleeding fingers first plays Handel’s “Sarabande,” followed by Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.”

    “Perfect Day” is different from other covers included in Westworld because Djawadi had to create the arrangement for it prior to production. This allowed the keyboard player to learn the piece in advance and, as Djawadi says, “when we look at his hands you could see he was actually playing… I’m sure he actually had to play a lot more than you end up seeing.” (Hopefully not to the extent that his bleeding fingers were no longer created by makeup.)

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    The plan had been to just feature “Perfect Day” as a keyboard piece, much like the characters themselves are hearing it in the scene, but the nature of reality got shaken up a bit in post-production. “We decided, you know, ‘Let’s make this a bit grander.’ It started as just solo piano because that’s how it was in the script,” Djawadi says. “But then when we saw the footage and how great that street looked, with the camera paning up, we said, ‘There’s a little bit more of a God feel to it.’ And so we thought, let’s make that a bit more epic, and that’s when we decided to add the strings, to get a bit more scope to the whole thing.”

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