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Ryan Bingham has written the main theme song for FX’s The Bridge, his first music for film or TV since winning the Oscar and Grammy for his work in Crazy Heart.
“Until I’m One With You” will be released July 2 on his Axster Bingham Records; the series, starring Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir, premieres July 10. The show is set along the Texas-Mexico border, an area Bingham lived in as a youth and an area he has returned to for musical influences.
“I was trying to capture that Tex-Mex border vibe,” Bingham tells Billboard. “Corridos, Mexican folk music — that was the first stuff I learned when I was starting. I went for a classical guitar-mariachi sound, just something lonesome to reflect the culture.
“I had the idea of writing a love song about the back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico and bridging the them together. I worked at this conflict to create a message of peace and tranquility.”
The Bridge was in its script phase in August when the show’s music supervisor John Bissell and show runner Ellwood Reid attended a Bingham showcase at L.A.’s Hotel Café. Bingham was performing stripped down versions of songs from his then-new album Tomorrowland.
Bissell thought Bingham’s music would perfectly fit the show’s timbre. “The next morning, Ellwood calls me and says he might be great for the main title,” Bissell recalls.
After going through Bingham’s songs they found no perfect fit, prompting Bisell and Reid to meet with Bingham and executives from the show’s production team at Shine America, the network and Bingham’s publisher, Warner Chappell. Reid brought in photographs of the landscape incities such as El Paso and Juarez plus the script for the pilot.
Less than a month later, the Bridge team received a demo tape of “Until I’m One With You.” It has not been re-recorded: The first version is the one audiences will hear on the show.
“We sent it to them and said Ryan’s open to feedback,” says Warner/Chappell senior VP, Film/TV Music Creative Wendy Christiansen. “It couldn’t have been stopped anywhere along the line — the president of FX could have killed it — so it’s a bit unusual for a demo tape” to make it to air.
The eighth episode of The Bridge is currently filming — it has a 13-episode order — and each episode will include three of four songs in addition to score by Sean Pierce. One of Bingham’s older songs, “Junky Star,” will appear in the first episode, though the music is largely Spanish-language — reggaeton, norteno, banda — and country for scenes in El Paso.
La Santa Cecilia, a Latin band that Bingham recommended to Bissell and Reid, was recently filmed for a live performancescene in an episode of The Bridge.
Bingham, who won in 2010 the Oscar and Golden Globe for his song “The Weary Kind” in the Jeff Bridges-starrer Crazy Heart, is currently writing songs for an album he intends to record in the fall. While he was working with a completely different team in writing his second song for visual media, he found that the demands were every similar.
“Both had a lot to do with the writing in the script,” he says. “One of the important things is reading and trying to relate, put myself in the shoes of the characters.”
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