We all know that the music in a TV series can play a vital role in helping to effectively tell a beautiful story. Jennifer Pyken, the Music Supervisor for the "The Way Home," would surely agree.
In this interview, Pyken shares what went into picking the perfect songs for the series, her approach to creating, and her favorite moments from working on the show, including hiring Maria Taylor to write an original song for the season finale.
What inspired the music direction for "The Way Home"?
The time and place as well as the characters and storyline played a big part of what inspired the musical direction. I had conversations with the creators of the series (Heather Conkie, Alexandra Clarke and Marly Reed) who are all passionate about music.
The series takes place in a small town near the ocean and includes time travel via a pond so we occasionally incorporated songs related to water.
How did you create a balance between using contemporary music and classic songs (from the 1990s) to create a unique sound for the show?
We created a balance by featuring recognizable 90s songs such as Britney Spears' “...Baby One More Time” that instantly placed us in the 90s but we also hear it again in 2023 when Alice sings it under her breath as she walks into the kitchen.
We opened and closed our premiere episode with a song by an indie artist named Abigail Lapell called “Down By The Water.” I love discovering up and coming artists such as Abigail and sharing them with a new audience. This is her very first tv placement which got a lot of traction on Shazam after it aired.
Did you face any challenges selecting songs for the series? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge was the abundance of great songs from the 90s. I overcame this by narrowing down my song ideas for specific scenes. Also, it can be tricky getting music clearance rights from iconic artists in a timely manner.
What was the creative process like between you and the show creators?
It was apparent from my very first meeting with the creators of the show that they’re super passionate about music and how and when it would be used. Each song was carefully chosen whether one of the characters is covering a song, singing along or if it was playing in the background of a scene. And some songs were scripted.
After reading each script I would break down the scenes and start sending ideas to creators of the show. We exchanged ideas and shared playlists of songs to work in specific scenes. I worked closely with editors and writers of the show too. Also, it could take some back and forth to find just the right song for our actors to sing on camera. Many song choices get finalized in post where the creators of the series along with myself work with the editors and music editor who cut our song ideas to picture.
What were your initial thoughts when you first read the script for "The Way Home"?
When I read the first script, I was so inspired that I stayed up late and created a 90s playlist before I met with the creators of the show. The characters were authentic and I loved the idea of time travel. Also, I’m a big fan of "Alice in Wonderland."
Do you have a favorite 1990s song from the series or in general?
One of my all-time favorite 90s songs is David Gray’s “This Year’s Love.” Finding a home for it in one of our episodes was gratifying.
What were some of your most memorable moments working on the series?
I hired Maria Taylor (Azure Ray) to write an original song for the series. I got goosebumps the first time I heard her song “Everything I Wanted.”
The song is a love letter from Colton to Del which we hear throughout the season. Also, working with Adam Damelin and his team at Eggplant Music & Sound pre-recording the actors singing the on-camera vocal performances was magical. Sadie LaFlamme-Snow is a wonderful singer and great musician.
Watch The Way Home every Sunday 9/8c on Hallmark Channel.