‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Composer Son Lux Breaks Down the Film’s Most Memorable Cues, From the Fanny Pack Scene to the Bagel Vortex

With Son Lux – the composing trio behind “Everything Everywhere All at Once” – nominated for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“This is a Life” with Mitski and David Byrne) at the 95th Academy Awards, analyzing the stunning complexities of their emotional score is key.

To go with Daniels’ (the single name used for director-writers Kwan and Scheinert) mosaic-like vision of familial bonding, Son Lux’s Ryan Lott, Rafiq Bhatia and Ian Chang dissected over 100 musical cues, rearranged into 49 detailed tracks.

“Nothing’s binary in ‘EEAaO’, each character is not one character,” said Lott. “The inherent challenge was to create themes that support the disconnect… but make the movie feel as one.”

Son Lux discusses their five most memorable cues and how they were achieved.

“The Fanny Pack” fight scene

All expectations built within the film’s first 10 minutes get abandoned with this scene,” said Lott. Son Lux’s challenge was to pay homage to classic martial arts cinema without “traditional Chinese music,” and achieved this by accident. “I was recording basslines for a different song, using software removing the sound of the studio… then sped it up for a hyper-realized vision,” said Bhatia. Then, Bhatia wrote additional melodies at quarter-speed with Lott building out its orchestration adding strings, with Chang drumming. “Ke Huy Quan’s character is fast, with finesse. Rafiq’s bass captured that.”

The “Evelyn All at Once” scene

“Spending time in a universe where characters have hot dogs for fingers – distant and hilarious – but ultimately relatable on a human level,” was a driving force for Bhatia. “It’s maximal chaos when Evelyn’s brain (Michele Yeoh) moves into many universes at once… tension mounts overwhelmingly. Daniels believed an improvised drum solo could be the catalyst between worlds. During one afternoon in L.A. where Son Lux recorded as a unit, Chang drummed and recorded “layered metallic sounds,” with Lott “sculpting cool choral orchestrations” around that percussion and Bhatia’s channel-shifting guitars. “I wanted this rattled moment to be oddly spiritual,” said Bhatia. Chang added this works because the following scene – “two boulders on the cliff” – has nearly no score.

The “In Another Life” scene

The trickiest moment of the score for Lott (“every small sound had to be perfect”) was its most melancholy, one where husband and wife, existing in another hyper-reality, yearn for the simplicity of “laundry and taxes.” Chang stated that this scene’s scoring came, bittersweetly, from within the characters rather than wild action. “We recorded dozens of revisions trying to find where the tension should built… when the opening up (of its characters) comes after the laundry and taxes line,” said Bhatia. “Plus, this is the only moment in the score where I sing,” said Lott.

The “Evelyn Everywhere” scene

This cue, spearheaded by Lott toward the end of Son Lux’s score-making process, was written in one swift session. Meant to illustrate its protagonist’s most rapid-fire, reality-shifting moments, Lott called this “an aria within an opera,” developing its harried orchestration around Evelyn’s click “from nihilism into joy… where she smashes up her family’s laundromat.”

The “Come Recover (Empathy Fight)” scene

A ten-minute sequence with multiple musical and emotional peaks, this scene’s visual centerpiece is an oversized bagel that sucks everything into its vortex. “Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is committing bagel suicide, while Evelyn is learning to fight with love and compassion,” stated Chang. “We designed this to be percussion-driven with its architecture designed for Joy’s walk up to the bagel.” Lott added that “the rich, maniacal beauty” of this scene came down to Chang’s establishing tempo – “the skeleton” – with “us adding musculature and tendons. We needed it to have a slowly surging soul and quickly beating heart.”

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