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How ‘Fast X’ Composer Brian Tyler Came Up With Jason Momoa’s Villain Theme

If anyone knows the musical world of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, it’s composer Brian Tyler. Over the years, he’s created themes and cues for Dom (Vin Diesel), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Cipher (Charlize Theron), and with “Fast X” he gets to dabble with Jason Momoa’s brilliant baddie, Dante.

“Instead of creating a dark energy theme, I went for alluring,” Tyler says.

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In the film, Dante seeks to avenge his father’s death, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida) from 2011’s “Fast Five.” Dante lures the Fast Family to Rome, which leads to an action-packed chase through the cobbled streets of the Eternal City as Dom, Letty and their crew attempt to stop Dante from blowing up the Vatican. “Dante is charming and he makes you laugh. So, I used high strings such as the harp, and then we get into bass music with modern instruments,” says Tyler. “It gives you this feeling that you can’t look away. There’s a sense [in his music] of empathizing with him, and why he becomes this villain.”

And while Tyler made deliberate musical efforts to create empathy, he purposely inserted an odd chord. “It’s the third chord. In his theme, it’s wrong. Every time it happens and cycles around, that chord goes inside your brain to understand where the music is supposed to go. It’s like a dopamine hit, that’s different and reminds you there’s something off about him,” Tyler says.

It turns out the eccentric Dante is a ballet fan too, and when he’s not attempting to blow up Rome, he’s indulging in his love for Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.”

Rather than take the famous ballet chords as is, Tyler wanted to do something epic. He explains as humans, “we understand music and we understand melody.” His approach was to take the recognized chords, weave in Dante’s theme and make it insidious. Tyler says, “You can do that, you can change the surrounding chords and you still hear the ‘Swan Lake’ theme even though it’s way off. So, when you see it in the movie, you recognize the melody, but it feels wrong.”

Sonically, Tyler could pull from the music DNA of past films, including “Fast Five” and earlier films, since the installment returns to the streets of London, Rio and now Rome.

Another standout moment thematically is the inclusion of “Gasolina,” the Safari Riot Remix by Daddy Yankee and Myke Towers, which plays as one of the film’s many needle drops. “It was cool to make a flip of it,” Tyler remarks.

The 2010 tune aligned with the theme of the film – “with the music, we are drawing on the past and forging the future.” He says, “The fact this goes back to ‘Fast Five,’ and beyond, I could go back to those themes and pull them through to this side as a segue.”

Aside from wall-to-wall-action, the film is jam-packed with character moments and drama since it’s the penultimate chapter of the “Fast and Furious” saga. Says Tyler, “It’s like ear candy mixed with thematic writing, and this score really ups the ante and takes the franchise scores to a completely different level.”

The Original Motion Picture Score album is being released by Back Lot Music on June 2.

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