Seeing superstar Will Smith visit remote locations on the planet was the hook for the National Geographic docuseries Welcome to Earth. Daniel Pemberton’s job was to provide Smith’s journey with a sound, and he said during a panel for the series at Deadline’s Sound & Screen concert event that he used some he’d never played before.
“A big thing for me was trying to make it not sound like anything you’ve heard before,” Pemberton said onstage during the TV music event at UCLA’s Royce Hall. “The idea with the show is seeing the world in a way you’ve never seen it before. I always wanted music that didn’t feel what you’d expect and use sounds that you wouldn’t expect. “
Pemberton said in his music career, he often experimented with sounds that never made it into traditional scores. Welcome to Earth, which streams on Disney+, gave him a chance to employ them.
“A lot of it is a lot of strange sounds,” he said. “I spent a long time making and recording weird noises all my life. There’s things I’ve been like, ‘I’m never going to get to use this.’ On this show I did.”
Some examples include Pemberton’s electronic score when Smith visits an active volcano.
“It felt like lava and it felt like this unstable force,” Pemberton said. “You make something a bit more abstract so as a viewer you think about it more because it’s more unusual.”
Pemberton said the visuals of Welcome to Earth gave him license to get experimental. Nat Geo captured such exotic footage that he said he knew he couldn’t ruin it.
“You can’t help but be unbelievably inspired by the amazing cinematography and research they did in that series to find things you’ve never seen before on this planet,” Pemberton said. “There’s such good imagery. I could write anything and it would be good.”
Check back Monday for the panel video.