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That Addictive ‘White Lotus’ Original Score Started as Idea Originally Meant for Kanye West

Mike White wanted music for "The White Lotus" that evoked a human sacrifice. Composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer surely delivered.

The White Lotus HBO Sydney Sweeney Brittany O’Grady

Sydney Sweeney and Brittany O’Grady in “The White Lotus”

Mario Perez / HBO

Mike White’s “The White Lotus” became a word-of-mouth sensation for HBO this summer, so much so that it earned a second season renewal. Part of what made “The White Lotus” such a buzzy breakout for the premium cable network is the original score, a tension-swelling burst of tribal music composed by Cristobal Tapia de Veer. The Chilean-born composer recently revealed on the “Broken Record Podcast” that the show’s addictive theme music actually started as an idea for Kanye West.

West contacted Tapia de Veer to collaborate on music for something related to a Nike project he was working on. “I went to his place where he works, and then I was trying to understand what he wanted,” the composer said, noting that it was difficult to get an idea of the music West had in mind because he’s “always talking about a million things at the same time.” The goal was to figure out “how this Nike shoe relates to music.” That’s when Tapia de Veer got to work on elements that would later define “The White Lotus” score.

“I had those voices and I tried to find a way to play melodies that is really striking, and this happened by accident and I was like, at that point I knew that this was like gold,” Tapia de Veer said. “And I was like, ‘OK, this I’m going to show to Kanye.’ I was there for like a week and I had to leave, and there was problems, and Kanye started firing people and his lawyers and everything was too long…It was a mess.”

The collaboration didn’t last longer than that, and Tapia de Veer said West never called him back about the sounds he made for the Nike project. Eventually “The White Lotus” came across the composer’s radar, and he knew “those tribal voices” would be perfect for the show. Tapia de Veer added, “So I went back to my system and started finding the right melody.”

The tribal elements Tapia de Veer first created for Kanye West suited “The White Lotus” perfectly, as creator Mike White said, “It’s music that makes you feel like there’s gonna be some kind of human sacrifice at some point… Cristobal nailed that — and then some.”

“The White Lotus” is now streaming on HBO Max.

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