How ‘The Idea of You’ brought to life a fictional boy band — and why you can’t stop singing along

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Weeks before the release of “The Idea of You,” a new band named August Moon cropped up on Spotify, with a lead single and the promise of an album to come.

The song, “Dance Before We Walk,” quickly generated buzz on social media, with its upbeat melody and jaunty lyrics.

August Moon’s sound, Instagram account, the ensuing promotional photos and behind-the-scenes videos immediately reminded fans of their favorite pop groups, like ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys and of course, One Direction (more on that later).

But is it a real band?

August Moon and its lead singer Hayes Campbell, played in the film by Nicholas Galitzine, was first conceived by Robinne Lee for her 2017 novel, “The Idea of You.” The book follows a whirlwind romance between 20-year-old Hayes and 39-year-old single mom Solène that’s challenged by his fame and their significant age gap.

To adapt the story to the screen, producer Cathy Schulman and director Michael Showalter consulted with songwriter Savan Kotecha, who envisioned a band that could “stand alone,” he tells

“We started talking about the Hayes Campbell character and how to make it as authentic as possible, because obviously I’ve sort of been working through a lot of groups throughout my career,” Kotecha, the executive music producer for "The Idea of You," says.

In the past, Kotecha has worked with One Direction, Westlife, Maroon 5 and solo artists like Ariana Grande and The Weeknd.

The goal for "The Idea of You" was to create a group that could function as a real band.

“We didn’t want to create a faux boy band. We wanted to create a real August Moon,” says Dakota Adan, who plays band member Rory.

Audiences first meet August Moon onscreen at Coachella, where they headline the music festival to a crowd of screaming fans, invoking the kind of near idolatry that boy bands often receive. Their performance features rousing choreography, upbeat pop tracks and plenty of group chemistry.

The Idea of You (Alisha Wetherill / Prime)
The Idea of You (Alisha Wetherill / Prime)

But in reality, the only actor heard singing is Galitzine, whose musical repertoire includes a back catalog of cover videos and his performance in 2021’s modern musical “Cinderella.”

The rest of the band is made up of four professional dancers — Adan, Jaiden Anthony, Raymond Cham Jr. and Vik White.

With the help of Kotecha and Carl Falk — two of the songwriters behind One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” — a choreographer and the music supervisor from “Daisy Jones & the Six,” August Moon transcended from the page to the screen.

Finding the members of August Moon

Kotecha and choreographer Dani Vitale were brought on early into the process, and both helped with casting decisions.

“Nick was the last one they sent me,” Kotecha says of star Galitzine. “And it was interesting because it was very clear that that was the guy.”

The Idea of You (Alisha Wetherill / Prime)
The Idea of You (Alisha Wetherill / Prime)

First, he saw Galitzine’s chemistry read with Anne Hathaway, which consisted of a comedic scene, an emotional scene and a serenade, according to Galitzine.

“Annie put me through the ringer,” Galitzine said on TODAY April 29.

While Kotecha saw great actors audition for the role, the singing part proved more challenging, he recalls.

“I was like, ‘Oh, gosh, how do I do this?’” he says. “But when it was Nick, it was like, ‘Oh, wow, OK, he’s got a great tone.’”

That’s how Kotecha’s job started — Galitzine’s voice and the themes found in “The Idea of You” script.

As for the rest of the August Moon? That’s where Vitale, who has worked with BTS, Panic! At The Disco and more, stepped in.

Prime Video's
Prime Video's

“When we were hiring, it was, ‘What kind of person are we hiring? Are we hiring aspiring musicians, actors, dancers?’ While going through that, I go, ‘Guys, we need dancers. We need dancers that know how to perform and dance and just be, like, bigger than life personalities,” Vitale says. “And we can teach them everything else.”

Rounding out the band are Hayes’ best friend Oliver (Cham), as well as Adrian (Anthony), Simon (White) and Rory (Adan).

Vitale says the casting process was “heavy.”

“We received hundreds of videos, and I had them answer certain questions and do certain moves that will definitely show me if I can work with them or not,” she says.

In the end, picking the four dancers was a “unanimous” decision, partially because of the group’s chemistry as a whole.

“Their essence in a room is still to this day, like, so cute,” she says. “And we all kept saying to each other, you can’t teach that. You can’t choreograph that.”

During the scene featuring their Coachella performance, the group created the “little mannerisms” and “inside jokes” that are key to an authentic boy band experience.

As to how they developed that “organic relationship”? Well ...

Welcome to boy band camp

“Boy band camp,” led by Vitale and “The Idea of You” music supervisor Frankie Pine, consisted of about two months in Atlanta, in which the five members of August Moon learned how to walk, talk, dance and breathe like a band.

Galitzine started out with dance rehearsals in Los Angeles.

Prime Video's
Prime Video's

“We knew we were going to be putting him with real dancers, and we didn’t want him to feel intimidated by that, although I think he probably still did,” Pine says.

Once the group convened in Atlanta, Galitzine was “drilling moves” with Vitale, while the rest of the band worked with Pine on how to make it look like they were singing, including when to take a breath and how to interact with fans in a crowd during a performance.

Boy band camp also involved finding what is unique about each member.

“You know, Suzy has your poster on her wall. David has your poster on his wall,” Vitale says. “So within boy band camp, I made them have homework, and they had to go and give me a whole backstory on who their character was.”

“The Idea of You” book offered some characterization of each band member, with just a few lines of dialogue to go off of. Hayes is “the swagger one,” while Solène describes Oliver as the most “elegant.” Rory is characterized as a lady’s man type. (Notably, in the book, August Moon’s lineup includes a Liam instead of an Adrian.)

Galitzine’s Hayes perfectly fits the book’s “swagger” description, partly because of his outfits.

“He was the only one with, like, style,” Vitale says. “‘Hayes’ would come in really cool outfits, because (Galitzine) was, you know, getting in that character. He’s wearing, like, a Balenciaga hoodie. And the other boys are wearing, like, Lululemon.”

In the film, White’s Simon is the “bad boy,” driving a motorcycle to rehearsal and texting girls in a corner, Vitale says.

Adan’s Rory is the “romantic,” his heart filling “his whole entire chest.” Oliver, played by Cham, is a “spitfire,” the “funniest, sarcastic, witty, quickest” of the group. And lastly, Adrian is the “baby” of the bunch — fitting as Anthony is also the youngest, Vitale says.

“That’s the funniest thing where I’m like, they’re not even playing characters. They are these people,” Vitale says.

Days were long, but the group stayed at the same hotel, forcing them to be together 24/7, Vitale says.

Their group dynamic “was like watching a comic,” according to Pine.

Prime Video's
Prime Video's

“What made it believable onscreen is the chemistry and just hanging out,” White says. “After we met with the guys and we started rehearsing, it was kind of clunky. But then when we started hanging out afterwards — just exploring the city or going to the park or playing video games together — I think that’s what made the essence of a band, which (is) just, like, a group of friends.”

Their antics also included a Nerf gun fight. After one of their friends brought the toy to rehearsal, the rest of the group bought more, starting an all-out battle that at one point, took up an entire hotel floor.

“Everyone was involved,” Adan says, including Vitale. “As unorthodox as that may sound.”

So in between takes filming their Coachella performance, a Nerf gun war was taking place backstage.

“You were never safe on that set,” Adan says.

Who inspired August Moon?

Pine says August Moon is meant to be “cool,” “approachable” and “relatable.”

“They seem like the guys next door, like you could just sit down and have a conversation with them,” she says.

Once their first single, “Dance Before We Walk,” hit streaming platforms, fans were quick to notice that the song had two of the same songwriters as One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” Kotecha and Falk.

Take that tidbit — plus that both August Moon and One Direction have five members and that Hayes Campbell has many similarities to Harry Styles — and one might say the inspiration behind the “Idea of You’s” fictional boy band is obvious.

But, according to this creative team, it’s not quite.

In addition to working with Kotecha on music for One Direction, Falk has also produced songs for Avicii, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande. He says that instead of trying to re-create the magic of real-life artists for August Moon, he and Kotecha had faith in their normal songwriting process, one that has been fine-tuned after more than 20 years of experience in the industry.

“We weren’t really listening to boy band music, we just trusted ourselves and were like, ‘Let’s just jam,’” Falk says. “We have the confidence to write these songs and trust ourselves that they will be good.”

As for Pine, she used her experience as the music supervisor for the fictional band featured in “Daisy Jones & the Six,” inspired by Taylor Jenkins Reid’s book of the same name.

“I wanted to believe that Daisy Jones & the Six was a band that somehow I magically missed in the 1970s,” she says.

Similarly, she wants viewers to think, “Holy crap, I can’t believe I just missed them at Coachella” about August Moon.

From script to score

Kotecha often writes music with a specific story in mind, whether from fiction or real life. He famously wrote “What Makes You Beautiful” after a conversation with his wife.

Kotecha, who grew up in a traditional Indian family, compares his “black sheep,” “dreamer” personality to that of Dawson Leery from “Dawson’s Creek” and Jo March from “Little Women.” Most of his original songwriting ideas came from watching TV and reading, he tells

For example, the dynamic between Jo and Laurie in “Little Women” inspired several songs later performed by the Irish band Westlife.

30th Annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards - Show (Paul A. Hebert / Getty Images)
30th Annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards - Show (Paul A. Hebert / Getty Images)

“Sam Smith’s ‘How Do You Sleep?’ — the original idea came from an episode of ‘This Is Us,’” he says.

“The Idea of You” script provided the same inspiration. He also treated the character of Hayes like he would any real-life singer he works with, aiming to “get under the skin of the artists and try and write from their voice.”

Recording the official soundtrack album took place in Sweden. Galitzine, in addition to rehearsing in L.A. and filming in Atlanta and London, spent just about a week in the recording studio, according to Falk.

Galitzine arrived like a “blank page,” he says.

“In this case, it was just like, ‘Let’s just try. Let’s just find your voice,’” he recalls. “(Galitzine) was working hardcore to please us and to do something that he also felt comfortable doing.”

The August Moon album (aka “The Idea of You” soundtrack) dropped May 2 in tandem with the movie and reveals the progression of the band in this fictional universe, Kotecha says. One of the opening tracks, “I Got You,” he envisions as a “teeny, ‘aw,’ kind of love song” and representative of an “old school August Moon” track.

The rhythmic track “Taste,” which dropped as a single on April 26, Kotecha sees as being from the band’s sophomore album.

“If that was from the second album, and then they want to be a little edgier and do more guitars for the third album — that would be ‘Guard Down’ and ‘Closer,’” he says.

“Dance Before We Walk” comes next in the evolution. Hayes writes the song throughout the film, and it’s meant to represent his growing desire to go solo. The lyrics state this goal clearly with the chorus, “Off the moon, and I’m hitting the ground like a rocket.”

Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine in
Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine in

The film’s final and titular song, “The Idea of You,” is a sweet ballad that Hayes writes about his relationship with Solène.

“(Solène) was always encouraging him to write music,” Kotecha says. “There’s a line, ‘I never even dared to write a song before/ Not until you put your faith in me.’ So it’s all about summarizing the relationship. ‘I’ll wait a lifetime or two/ With the idea of you.’”

These direct, on-the-nose lyrics are part of the secret to a successful boy band, according to Kotecha.

“If you think about the boy bands that have really broken (through) and worked — from New Kids on the Block, even probably the Beatles back in the day — it was guilty pleasure, fun pop songs that aren’t trying to be anything they’re not,” he says.

So far, the “fun social experiment” of August Moon, as Falk describes it, seems to be working.

“There (are) August Moon fans now,” Kotecha says. “The label head that we were doing the soundtrack with told me another big producer hit him up just going, ‘I love your new boy band. I want to do a week with them in the studio.’ And he was like, ‘What band?’ He was like, ‘That August Moon band’ ... So that was really, really funny, because it was like, ‘Oh, wow. So it’s working.’”

Would August Moon ever tour?

While the soundtrack features Galitzine, backing vocals from Kotecha — “I’m like the second member of the boy band,” he jokes — Falk and their additional co-writers, the boy band members were technically singing while shooting the movie. Their vocals just didn’t make it into the film.

“We sang live on the Coachella set,” Cham says. “It’s not our voices what you hear, nor do I think you want to, at least mine. ... There were moments where I was singing, and I was just utterly astounded by what sounds come out of my body.”

But would they ever bring their moves to a real tour?

“Only if Nick can get his life together and not leave,” Adan says with a laugh. “If the opportunity ever came up to hang out with these boy more — absolutely, I love ‘em.”

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