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Interview…Composer David Fleming on Ron Howard, Hans Zimmer and ‘Hillbilly Elegy’

This year has taken a toll on all of us, and yet one constant has surfaced: family can get us through almost anything. Or maybe it’s that we’re more likely to survive Covid than our families? Either way, even though every family has its problems, we’re certainly better together than we are apart.

As such, Hillbilly Elegy is about family and a whole lot more. The film adaptation of the best-selling book is directed by Ron Howard and, like all his films, there’s a real emotion weight because the story highlights the struggles and triumphs of characters who are broken or about to break.

Helping give this tale its heart is the score from composers Hans Zimmer and David Fleming. The down-home, Appalachian-fried soundtrack is as legitimate as the J.D. Vance penned memoir which inspired the film. The music helps take us though this emotional and generational epic and we got to speak with David about the creative process which goes beyond traditional orchestrations to celebrate the characters and region the film is centered on.

Previously, David composed the score for the BBC’s internationally acclaimed Blue Planet II (alongside Zimmer), which marked the start of a fruitful working relationship between the two. Zimmer is well known for his eye for up and coming composing talent, with past collaborations and mentees having included Benjamin Wallfisch, Junkie XL and Ramin Djawadi, among others.

David’s work can also be heard in a trio of HUGE upcoming titles: Wonder Woman 84, Dune, and Top Gun: Maverick. We go into all that and more on the show, so enjoy our time with David Fleming! 

Download Podcast Audio

You can listen to the lead single from the soundtrack, “Rust” and preorder the album here.

Exclusive track: ‘Responsibility