Los Angeles Times - - THE ENVELOPE - cal­en­dar@la­times.com

Meet the mu­sic su­per­vi­sors.

BY HUGH HART >>> When “The So­pra­nos” went black to the sound of Jour­ney’s clas­sic rock an­them “Don’t Stop Believin’,” it mas­ter­fully il­lus­trated tele­vi­sion’s long-stand­ing re­liance on deftly placed songs to am­plify emo­tions. This year for the first time, the peo­ple who pick those songs are be­ing rec­og­nized for their con­tri­bu­tions by the Academy of Tele­vi­sion Arts & Sci­ences. Thomas Gol­u­bic, who as a Guild of Mu­sic Su­per­vi­sors co-founder helped per­suade the academy to honor his craft, says, “Ba­si­cally, our job is to think like film­mak­ers and fig­ure out how mu­sic can best con­trib­ute to the sto­ry­telling process.”


Gol­u­bic, a for­mer KCRW-FM disc jockey Emmy-nom­i­nated for his work on “Bet­ter Call Saul,” knows an im­pact­ful song when he hears it. Re­mem­ber­ing a 3 a.m. dis­cov­ery of an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally poignant track from rock screamer Lit­tle Richard, Gol­u­bic says, “As soon as I heard the big­ness and gospel power of Lit­tle Richard’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of ‘Hurry Sun­down,’ I dragged that song into a lit­tle folder and said to my­self, ‘Some day, this will come in handy.’ ” A few months later, Gol­u­bic paired “Hurry Sun­down” with a “Bet­ter Call Saul” mon­tage that shows an­ti­hero Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) go­ing to prison. “The ar­range­ment builds up to this huge, big brassy horn sec­tion, then shifts into this melan­choly sec­tion just as Jimmy’s trad­ing in his old world for this new re­al­ity.”


“Girls” mu­sic su­per­vi­sor Man­ish Raval, who pre­vi­ously played drums in an L.A. rock band, teamed with co-nom­i­nees Jonathan Leahy and Tom Wolfe to pop­u­late Lena Dun­ham’s sad-funny show with tune­ful coun­ter­point. “Lena em­pow­ered us to turn her on to cool mu­sic and many times that cool mu­sic would end up mak­ing it into the show,” Raval says. In the se­ries’ penul­ti­mate episode, he used a 1965 num­ber by Scot­tish folk singer Bert Jan­sch to set the scene for Dun­ham’s usu­ally fre­netic Han­nah char­ac­ter as she strolls through a col­lege cam­pus. “Han­nah’s preg­nant, she’s all grown up now, and we needed a so­phis­ti­cated track to evoke that feel­ing,” Raval says. “For the next scene, we slam into Mi­ley Cyrus rap­ping over this Mike Will Made It track. ‘Oh wait, Han­nah is still Han­nah.’ That’s a mi­cro­cosm for how we use mu­sic to help de­fine a char­ac­ter or get a laugh.”


Mu­sic su­per­vi­sor Zach Cowie, an L.A. DJ nom­i­nated with New York-based col­league Kerri Drootin for “Mas­ter of None,” draws on his col­lec­tion of more than 100,000 records to har­vest ideas. In Sea­son 2, the doomed ro­mance be­tween co-cre­ator/star

Aziz An­sari and an Ital­ian woman (Alessandra Mastronardi) in­spired Cowie to sug­gest an ob­scure-in-Amer­ica bal­lad called “Amarsi Un Po.” “Aziz played that song a lot while re­vis­ing the script be­cause it summed up this push-pull re­la­tion­ship arc in a crazy way,” Cowie says. There was just one prob­lem. The late song­writer Lu­cio Bat­tisti never al­lowed

his mu­sic to be li­censed out­side of Italy and his es­tate wasn’t about to start now. “Kerri spent six months get­ting per­mis­sion and only cleared the song three days be­fore the fi­nal mix,” says Cowie. “It’s a lot eas­ier to think of a great song than it is to li­cense it.”


For the Duf­fer Brothers’ ’80s-themed thriller “Stranger Things,” mu­sic su­per­vi­sor Nora Felder helped de­fine char­ac­ters by se­cur­ing rights to iconic songs from the pe­riod in­clud­ing “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash. The episode cul­mi­nates with the Ban­gles’ omi­nous-sound­ing cover ver­sion of “Hazy Shade of Win­ter.” Felder, who got into mu­sic su­per­vi­sion af­ter a stint with the late record pro­ducer Phil Ra­mone, ex­plains, “It’s al­most as if a silent char­ac­ter were whis­per­ing gen­tly into the viewer’s ear that per­haps things in this small In­di­ana town were hazier and stranger than any­one could even imag­ine.”


Mu­sic su­per­vi­sor Sue Ja­cobs, nom­i­nated for “Big Lit­tle Lies,” worked as a vet­eri­nar­ian and con­cert pro­ducer be­fore her first job wran­gling songs for Ju­lian Schn­abel’s 1996 film “Basquiat.” “I’m ac­tu­ally pretty ter­ri­ble at ti­tles and lyrics but I re­mem­ber what songs feel like,” she says. Col­lab­o­rat­ing for the third time with di­rec­tor Jean-Marc Val­lée, Ja­cobs found the “Big Lit­tle Lies” theme song in a tran­scen­dent track by Bri­tish soul singer Michael Ki­wanuka. Ja­cobs says, “When you hear the lyrics of ‘Cold Lit­tle Heart,’ it sup­ports the show’s emo­tions so beau­ti­fully. There’s a lot of great songs out there, but for me, it’s al­ways about find­ing that mar­riage be­tween mu­sic and im­agery.”

Doug Inglish

EMMY-NOM­I­NATED mu­sic su­per­vi­sors in­clude, clock­wise from top left, Thomas Gol­u­bic, Zach Cowie, Nora Felder, Sue Ja­cobs and Man­ish Raval.

Ash­ley West Leonard ash­ley­west­leonard.com

Jonathan Leib­son

Fari­noush Mostighami

Theo Wargo Getty Im­ages for Fire­fly Mu­sic F

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