Music, Movies, Meaning: Will Bates of Fall On Your Sword

Fall On Your Sword is home to composer and founder Will Bates and executive producer Lucy Alper. Based in Los Angeles and New York, Fall On Your Sword creates music for film, television, and branded advertising alongside interactive art installations, namely, with the SPRING BREAK Art Show.

Among his credits, Bates has scored the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief28 Hotel Rooms, the Hulu series Chance (starring Hugh Laurie) and The Path (starring Aaron Paul), Another Earth and I, Origins. His music has appeared in televised ads for Siemens, Lincoln Motors, Reebok, Sprite, Google, Bose, and Honda. Oh, and lest we forget the viral video and official single, “Shatner of the Mount”: a ballad of Captain Kirk climbing a mountain.

We sat down with Bates to chat about the projects he’s worked on, what inspires him, and his road to being one of the most accomplished composers in the industry.

Composer, producer and musician Will Bates

I asked Bates where the love came from and if he always envisioned himself being a composer.  “For me it all started with John Williams.” He reminisced about hearing the Star Wars soundtrack as a kid and rehearsing in hums in their entirety at the kitchen table. His parents wanted to nurture their son’s growing interest in music. “They got me a violin and dealt with me scratching about.” Although he didn’t keep up with the violin, it did lead him to several other instruments – so a worthwhile chance they took.

Mastering the skills along the way, he played in bands and wrote from himself throughout college until he found his way to New York City. He then landed employment at an advertising agency. “I learned a lot about working on a deadline and time management. It’s a skill that would come in handy.”

But he also learned how to edit at the drop of a hat. More importantly, he began to really embrace what true collaboration means. “It’s bringing two visions together, it’s the journey of seeing all these different points of view working alongside each other.” The fulfilment of ‘making it’ sometimes outweighs the final product. “To be constantly creating is what we strive for. Building the beautiful works together is my favorite part.”

That trust with directors led to a very successful relationship with director Mike Cahill, with whom Bates has worked on most of Cahill’s projects for both film and television. Nightflyers is the latest project the two collaborated on. This might sound familiar, as the SyFy series (due to be released in December) comes from the brain of fantasy master George R. R. Martin. Bates takes on the sounds of a futuristic space drama, and it absolutely plays to his strengths in that it has deep roots in the psychological thriller genre. He goes on to speak about how important music in film and television is and how often we don’t notice the effect it’s having on us while we watch.

Philip Rhys as ‘Murphy’ in Nightflyers (2018)
Created by Jeff Buhler, Written by George R.R. Martin
Music by Will Bates

“You have the ability to inspire and enhance a scene but you can also ruin one if the tone isn’t right. That’s a lot of power to have. I will make sketches of what I’m thinking about a particular scene and makes edit while looking at dailies. Eventually, I’ll move to working with the showrunners for further input or changes.”

That talent of being in the moment and flexible is what lead Bates to form his own company, Fall On Your Sword (FOYS). It’s a culmination of his life’s loves and experiences, the Venn diagram of commercial and creative.

I was excited to talk to Bates about his work for SyFy’s The Magicians, one of my favorite shows. His music engages the audience in so many critical storylines about the magic welders of Brakebills University. The music for STARZ’s series Sweetbitter came together to bring the world of the Union Square Café to viewers. “We started playing around in the kitchen and banging on anything we thought might produce an interesting sound. I just hit record and got some incredible sounds.” He has an infectious enthusiasm for music and storytelling.

Ella Purnell as ‘Tess’ and Tom Sturridge as ‘Jake’ in Sweetbitter (2018)
Created by Stephanie Danler
Music by Will Bates

Bates’s next project for Netflix is entitled Unbelievable with Toni Collette, to be released later this year. He’s proud of the work on this crime procedural. “It’s rather a tough subject matter, so treating the world with real care was important.” It sounds like a show Bates was able to navigate with intrigue, suspense, as well as compassion for the procedural revolving around sexual assault.

He mentions that he’s finally getting back in the studio to work on his own music, something he’s been trying to orchestrate for the last few years. “My wife said if I’m in the studio past when I said I better be working on my own stuff.” He’s hoping to put more time into an album he’s had in his heart and mind for quite some time and to have his own music out to the masses next year.

And I certainly hope he does.

Check out Fall On Your Sword on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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