composer spotlight: david wainwright and jode steele


Composer team Jode Steele and David Wainwright (aka Verbal Vigilante) are as well-known for their supercharged scores to shows like Release the Hounds (they scored that series like a film) as they are in the Hollywood trailer studio scene, having produced music for mega-movie trailers including The Amazing Spiderman 2, Oblivion and The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

Crimson Peak, Legendary Pictures

As I arrive at their Preston-based glossy studio, I’m greeted by their studio cat sleeping peacefully just a few feet away from a speaker blasting out their latest track.

You’ve carved out a niche by being the go-to people for music for these blockbuster film trailers, but you’re based a world away in Preston. How did it all begin, how did you get those gigs and where did you find your USP – your distinct ‘sound’?! 

Dave: We’ve been writing music together since we were teenagers. First in bands and then going on to study music together at University. We set up as Verbal Vigilante having had the opportunity to score a theatre production in York and realised we loved the process of writing music for something, just as much as music for it’s own sake…

Jode: Working in trailers came along due to some chance meetings we had. We love to get out of the studio, meet people and build solid relationships face to face. The web is great for communicating, but we’ve found it’s by meeting people that we’re able to forge great working partnerships. So we always made an effort to go to networking events.

At one such event we were introduced to some guys who published trailer music, and ending up working on some projects for them. This resulted in our first trailer placements in around 2010 and we haven’t looked back since! Our sound is I guess a mixture of our influences and a rather left-field education. Not a traditional music degree but focused on questioning musical conventions and thinking creatively. That, coupled with a classical background of singing in choirs/classical guitar and a cutting edge production style, makes up the Verbal Vigilante sound!

Not to put you on the spot (i.e. I’m about to put you on the spot), what is your favourite piece you’ve written?

That’s a tricky one! Hard to pick as you’re always so involved with the current project it becomes your favourite. A piece that stands out is the track we composed for the launch of the Sky F1 channel, which was then used as audio branding for the Sky Sports network. Not necessarily our favourite piece but memorable as it was our first TV commission – thanks to our agent Steve!

And your favourite score you’ve written if you had to pick?

It’s got to be Release The Hounds. Such a crazy show; people are still asking us “How do they get away with that?”. Great fun for us to score too. A mix of scoring to picture and creating horrifying sound design to make the show feel as cinematic as possible. Right up our street.


That show terrifies me. Who are your biggest influencers?

There are so many composers that have and still do influence us, to pick a handful – Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Michael Kamen, Daniel Pemberton, Alexandre Desplat, Aphex Twin, Bernard Herrmann, Cristobal Tapia de Veer, Jon Hopkins, Jeff Russo…

Talking of greats, are there any upcoming composers who you have listened to recently and thought ‘wow, they’re good’?

Ólafur Arnauds is great, he’s been around as a commercial artist for a while but just recently got into TV music with his BAFTA winning score to Broadchurch. We’re really impressed with his style.

And if you were an instrument, what would you be and why?

Perhaps a Moog Modular – Endless possibilities for musical creation :)