Jonny Greenwood on TikTok Fame of ‘Phantom Thread’ Score: ‘It’s Not Supposed to Be a Pastiche’

Jonny Greenwood is laughing at your luxury vacation TikToks. In a recent profile in The Guardian, the Radiohead guitarist and film score composer dug into some of his current influences, his most important collaborations, and why setting images of beautiful resorts and moments of wistfulness against his “Phantom Thread” score feels kind of funny.

“That’s hilarious!” said Greenwood when told by The Guardian about a recent trend featuring his glorious “House of Woodcock” piece being used for TikTok videos and Instagram memes. “It was written without guile. It’s not supposed to be a pastiche – those soaring strings are unashamedly beautiful, and one can’t help but find the music very affecting. Although even saying this makes me feel terribly pink and stiff and English.”

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That traditional perception of English stiffness is something Greenwood has worked a great deal to avoid in his work despite having incredibly formal musical training. In trying to marry that formality with a radical nature, Greenwood said, “I remember having violin lessons at a primary school in Abingdon, where one young teacher started a lesson by asking us to make a sound out of our instrument, ‘but not the one you know how to make’. This might have baffled some of the kids, but it really worked on me. I remember putting the bow under the strings and playing the G and E string together, and thinking this was amazing. I’m still arsing around on instruments in a similar way today.”

That freedom of exploration isn’t always guaranteed with a career in film scoring, as a large part of the job involves adding to something that already exists, but Greenwood’s been fortunate to have collaborators who help feed his curiosity. In reflecting on his relationship with writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, he said, “I’m incredibly lucky that Paul indulges me and gives me so much time to experiment and compose. That’s not usually the case in Hollywood, where the soundtrack writers are often very far down the food chain, and are sometimes given only a couple of days to bash out a complete score.”

Greenwood’s next score will be featured in PTA’s upcoming film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Regina Hall, and Sean Penn, then, after that, potentially your social media feed.

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