Darien composer scores latest Vin Diesel film
Lydecker’s tune making began far from the silver screen. Lydecker, a Darien native, said his interest in music began in town at the First Congregational Church of Darien.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a visual artist,” said the LA-based composer. “From a young age, I was interested in creative work... I started doing music when I was maybe in third grade. In elementary school, I sang in church choir at First Congregational and that gave me a foundation, teaching me some fundamentals about how to read music and theory.”
Lydecker already had a love of music from his mother, Wyn Lydecker, who raised him on everything from reggae to The Beatles. In elementary school, Lydecker also started playing the drums, which he continued to do in punk bands throughout middle school and high school. When he was 12, he tried his hand at writing when his family bought a computer with a composing program.
“I started clicking random notes and slowly figured out how it worked and taught myself how to write music,” he said.
Lydecker attended Darien High School where he further studied music theory and developed an interest in classical composing. After attending a pre-college program at Carnegie Mellon, where he got a taste of what it’d be like to study music, Lydecker went on to study classical composing at the University of Southern California after graduating from DHS in 2004. After getting his bachelor’s, he got a master’s from USC in film scoring.
Lydecker went on to work on scores for T series like Sleepy Hollow and Designated Survivor, as well as the music for videos games like Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 3 and Assassin’s Creed. He also worked on some independent film scores.
Lydecker got his xXx gig through composer Brian Tyler. Lydecker had been Tyler’s assistant and since then, the two have worked on different projects together and split credits. Tyler was busy when the xXx project came along and new it’d be a great opportunity for Lydecker to get his first studio film scoring credit.
“It’s a fun movie,” Lydecker said. “It was a nice change. I’ve done other action movies which are very serious and the movie has to be intense whole time, but this movie is a little tongue-in-cheek.”
The film follows athlete turned government agent Xander Cage (played by Vin Diesel), who comes out of hiding to go on an adventurous search for a deadly weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Despite the intensity, Lydecker said the film is light-hearted.
“I think it’s just a good escape from life,” he said. “It’s fun to see people do crazy stunts. The score just needed to support the film and let the audience know they can have fun during times.”
The film had already been shot by the time Lydecker got to it. Traditionally, editors will present composers with the completed movie and put in other music to give composers an idea of what they want. Then the composers watch the movie and get a sense of what’s working for the music. They then come up with a plan to make a unified, yet unique score and then come up with a theme, usually a short piece of music to exemplify the sound and act as the building block for the overall score.
Completing the score for xXx took about a month. At the end of the process, the score was recorded over the course of three days with a 70 piece orchestra, something rare for Hollywood scores which are normally now recorded overseas to reduce costs. But being able to hear the score performed large-scale and live was Lydecker’s favorite part of the production.
“It was a real treat to go there and just hear music come alive and suddenly sounds like a big film score,” he said. “All these people are so talented and putting their artistry into stuff we worked hard on in terms of music itself.”
In order to match the movie, Lydecker said the score has a unique sound similar to dance or pop music. Since the main character is into extreme sports, Lydecker said the score is meant to connect to more upbeat music to reflect this and includes elements of modern music like hip hop and rock which Lydecker enjoyed, given his love and experience with all sorts of music.
“It’s like food,” he said. “There’s so many different kinds of food and you can love them all. That’s how I feel about music.”