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HBO's 'White Lotus' Soundtrack Haunts The Show And People's Lives

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Almost 2 million people watched the first season of HBO's "The White Lotus." It's a series about guests and staff at a Hawaiian resort. And let's put it this way. It's not all mai tais by the pool. It's one of the summer's biggest hits. And it's not just the finale surprise ending that has fans talking. It's also the soundtrack.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRISTOBAL TAPIA DE VEER'S "ALOHA!")

SIMON: Cristobal Tapia De Veer composed the score. He says that he and "White Lotus" creator Mike White agreed pretty quickly about the sound.

CRISTOBAL TAPIA DE VEER: The first idea that came out was to do some kind of Hawaiian Hitchcock. And I think that's exactly what Mike wanted - the music to be suggestive of things that are happening in the background. So basically, it's constantly bubbling under the characters' distension.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRISTOBAL TAPIA DE VEER'S "ALOHA!")

DE VEER: The theme song - it's like a resume of what the score is supposed to be in the sense that it has that primal quality. There's no instrument like kick drum or bass instrument - an actual bass instrument. There's nothing like that in the whole score. It's just primal, primitive percussions.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED SONG)

DE VEER: Some people feel lots of anxiety. Some people are scared, even. They think it's ominous...

SIMON: Or they simply can't unhear it. Sarah Paulson said on Twitter that her days and nights are entirely scored by the theme music from "The White Lotus."

(SOUNDBITE OF CRISTOBAL TAPIA DE VEER'S "DINNER")

DE VEER: When I'm playing the flutes, I was playing really fast notes. And these are really big flutes, and to be able to do that, I have to breathe so hard in between every note that I'm literally going out of breath. But it seems that this creates a lot of anxiety because you can feel there is someone going out of air in the track.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRISTOBAL TAPIA DE VEER'S "DINNER")

DE VEER: My favorite thing in general is voices. I think there's something scary about hearing a voice that you can tell - it is a real voice - it's a real person. But there's something off - there's something that you cannot put your finger on. You can tell there's something wrong.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRISTOBAL TAPIA DE VEER'S "DINNER")

SIMON: Not all of the score is meant to send blood pressure soaring.

DE VEER: For example, one of my favorite moments - we are swimming in the ocean with a big turtle, and it's just this amazing sequence of a connection with nature that - it does happen a few times during the show. And then the music that goes with those moments - it's very honest and is the only moment where you feel, like, relaxed.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRISTOBAL TAPIA DE VEER'S "SEA TURTLE SONG")

DE VEER: There's some religious choirs that really sounds like you're in a church.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRISTOBAL TAPIA DE VEER'S "SEA TURTLE SONG")

SIMON: The White Lotus has been renewed for a second season, and composer Cristobal Tapia De Veer doesn't know if his music will make a reappearance.

DE VEER: Well, to be honest I not want for second seasons. I wouldn't want to do a project that the music is not a character.

SIMON: Our advice for fans of both the series and the score - while you wait for season two, embrace anxiety.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED SONG) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.