Interview: Dara Taylor, composer for Dracula-themed ‘The Invitation’ (2022)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 03: Dara Taylor arrives at DGA Theater Complex on October 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 03: Dara Taylor arrives at DGA Theater Complex on October 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage) /

1428 Elm is happy to present this interview of Dara Taylor, composer for Jessica M. Thompson’s vampire and Dracula-theme film, The Invitation, starring Nathalie Emmanuel and Thomas Doherty.

There’s a chance you have heard some of Dara Taylor’s work, as she has been involved with creating music for such films and TV shows as Amazon Prime’s The Boys, Netflix’s Lost in Space, TV’s Supernatural, Smurfs: The Lost Village, and Horrible Bosses 2 (among many others). Also, The Invitation (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Dara Taylor is available now on Madison Gate Records!

Interview with The Invitation composer Dara Taylor

1428 ELM: Without spoiling too much, what can you tell us about The Invitation?

DARA TAYLOR: The Invitation is a fresh take on a classic piece of Dracula lore from the perspective of his unsuspecting brides.

1428 ELM: There are so many different musical styles in the score to The Invitation, yet it still has a consistent horror feel throughout. How did you arrive at these subtleties and nuances?

DARA TAYLOR: Jess Thompson and I wanted to blend modern, odd, unsettling sounds with classic gothic scoring while also incorporating bits of romance amongst the scares. This was done in a variety of ways including the prevalent use of female vocals but processing them in ways that make them feel unsettling like adding distortion, reversing them, etc, so something that would
normally feel traditional and comforting has an inherent unease and eerieness.

The Invitation and organic elements

1428 ELM: There are parts where the score shifts to a much more contemporary/electronic-driven style, yet it doesn’t come across as being inorganic. What are some tricks to preventing music from sounding too robotic?

DARA TAYLOR: A lot of that comes from using organic elements and affecting them to feel contemporary rather than using straight ahead synthetic sounds. So it’s using the sound of bells and pianos and found sounds like ceramic scrapes and even a sander that [are then processed] to do the job of a synth without sounding too inorganic.

Dara Taylor
Nathalie Emmanuel in Screen Gems THE INVITATION. Photo Credit: Marcell Piti. ©2021 CTMG. All Rights Reserved. /

1428 ELM: How important is it creatively to have others be supportive and accommodating to ideas?

DARA TAYLOR: Oh it’s incredibly important. It’s such a rewarding process for all to have collaborative and creative synergy with the filmmakers so everyone feels a sense of ownership over the musical idea. I was so fortunate to work with such a great collaborator in Jessica Thompson who encouraged and nurtured out-of-the-box ideas and was a champion of the use of women’s voices which became such an integral part of the score.

1428 ELM: In creating music for a project, how crucial is it to have similar taste in music, and what are ways to overcome not instantly clicking with others as people and as a team (personality conflicts, different artistic visions, etc.)?

DARA TAYLOR: I think it’s more important to have similar goals in terms of the utility of music in the project at hand. Is it meant to react with the audience, make them feel something not yet on screen, misdirect an upcoming surprise, etc? From there I think it’s important to discuss and get onto the same page when it comes to instrumentation, general vibe/genre, how melodic vs moody
the score should be, etc. But I don’t think it’s necessary to have all of the same answers right
from the start as long as all parties are open and excited about the collaborative discovery
process to really hone in on the sound of the project.

1428 ELM: What differences are there between working on a movie like The Invitation and a show likeThe Boys, or are there no significant differences for you?

DARA TAYLOR: I think that what’s interesting about working in different genres whether it’s a horror film I led or working with others like Christopher Lennertz’s score for the hero satire The Boys is actually how similar different genres are in terms of musical utility, timing, and storytelling.

1428 ELM: What are some of your favorite horror movies and TV shows?

DARA TAYLOR: I love horror comedies like Evil Dead, Shawn of The Dead, Get Out. As well as unsettling films and TV like American Horror Story, Insidious, and Final Destination. But I also have to mention the brilliance of the classics like Halloween and The Nightmare on Elm Street.

Favorite film composers

1428 ELM: What are some misconceptions about music?

DARA TAYLOR: I think that all music has the same goal. Some music is meant to sweep you off of your feet, other [pieces are] meant to make your hair stand on end, and both can be done in a variety of different styles from ornate orchestras to sound design-like atmospheres. As long as it serves the film or show, they are all of equal merit and importance.

1428 ELM: Who are some of your favorite film composers?

DARA TAYLOR: It’s an ever-evolving and compounding list, haha. I’ve always loved the work of Thomas Newman and Bernard Herrmann. I also really enjoy the work of Daniel Pemberton,
Theodore Shapiro, Nicholas Brittel, Michael Abels, and Hildur Guðnadóttir.

1428 ELM: What are some current projects you are working on or recently finished?

DARA TAYLOR: A film I recently finished that will be released on Netflix later this year is The Noel Diary – a beautiful Romance Dramedy directed by the incredible Charles Shyer and starring Justin

Thanks to Dara Taylor for taking the time to answer these questions! Of course, feel free to check out The Invitation when you get a chance!

Next. Scream and the 25 best 90s horror movies of all-time. dark

Tell us what your favorite horror film scores are in the comments section.