Magazine article Variety

'This Is Us' Ties Its Ensemble to Music

Magazine article Variety

'This Is Us' Ties Its Ensemble to Music

Article excerpt

ONE OF THE SECRETS to success of the NBC dramedy "This Is Us" is its warm, acoustic-guitar-driven musical score by Siddhartha Khosla, founder of the acclaimed indierock band Goldspot. In fact, Fox Television, which produces the show, is planning a soundtrack album with Universal Music Group. Jeremy Summers, exec VP of music for Fox TV, points out that a lot of Khosla's cues "play like songs."

But tunes figured into "This Is Us" early on. Khosla remembers the show's creator-producer Dan Fogelman sending over the pilot script (then called "36") last spring and asking for his musical reaction. "It moved me," Khosla says. "I could hear music in my head. I recorded this five- or six-minute piece of music - acoustic guitar, cello, some darker atmospheric sounds. He loved it."

The show focuses on generations in a family, and the score needed to match. "The music had to be organic, something that felt homegrown," Khosla says. "Just like Dan's script, it could have a simplicity that was also complex, memorable, melodic, emotive."

That music has gently nudged viewers in many emotional directions since the series began in September. But, unlike many shows that establish a sound or themes and then use them as the basis for everything to follow, the music of "This Is Us" is evolving as the storylines progress.

Khosla initially penned themes for character relationships. For example, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) had their own music - "a lighter, romantic feel, a Joni Mitchell-esque quality," as the composer describes it.

In the early episodes, producers worried whether viewers would be confused by the jumping back and forth between time periods (shifting from siblings Kevin, Kate, and Randall in present day to parents Jack and Rebecca in the '80s). So, says Khosla, "I had to help sell some of those transitions" via ethereal sounds in the score.

Both have now given way to a related but more complex approach, one which, Khosla says, "respects the audience but makes them work a little bit, too. It's not so much the idea of character-specific, or relationship themes. Each episode has its own theme, weaved in and out. It's my way of tying the characters into one theme, one idea. …

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