Onesumore: Alec Puro Breaks Down the Music of Netflix’s ‘The Crew’ and ‘Black Summer’
We managed to secure an exclusive interview with music composer Alec Puro who talks about his two projects with Netflix and his thought process in the TV series (which couldn’t be more different from each other) . Other Puro credits include The Fosters, The art of getting by, Nasty tuna and The powerfuls.
Alec Puro is the songwriter for Netflix’s latest sitcom The crew, creating the retro rock tunes we hear throughout the series, highlighted during the title’s catchy main sequence. When Puro isn’t branding the comedy series for Netflix, he’s fully embedded in the zombie apocalypse, Black summer, which he starts scoring long before the show is even shot. To learn more about the process of composing these two very different shows, we spoke with Puro exclusively below.
WON: Andy Fickman is the Director of The crew. Can you talk about his main notes on how he envisioned the score?
Andy Fickman is such a great director! On TV, when it comes to music, I mostly get my ratings and creative direction from the runner / creator of the show. In this case, I worked very closely with Jeff Lowell to find the sound for the show and refine it as the episodes started to lock in. From the start, Jeff really wanted to infuse a slight throwback or retro sound into the theme and score to compliment the character of Kevin James who has been in the racing game for years. We end up with a retro ’70s hard rock type sound that not only compliments Kevin’s character but also the NASCAR backdrop for the show.
WON: The crew The main track and the end credits streak have a very rock and heavy guitar vibe. Is the ending credits sequence just an extended version of the opening credits?
Once we landed on the right feel and tone for the main title’s theme, we decided to expand it into a longer piece that could play on the end credits to add each episode.
WON: The crew is a 30-minute multi-camera comedy series. With multi-camera shows, is there a specific formula that composers are supposed to follow? Opposed to a longer horror series like Black Summer.
I’m not sure there is a specific formula when tagging a multi-cam comedy, but generally the overall sound of the show is derived from the theme of the main title. In the case of The crew, once we figured out what the title’s main theme would be, I was able to create a ton of sub-themes based on that sound and feel for all of the transitions and underscores in the series.
WON: The crew has a lot of quick musical hits. Are each of these hits different for each episode? How many of them did you make for season 1?
All score transitions are different for each episode and, for the most part, are not reused too often. Sometimes if we try to recall a theme from a different episode, one of them can be reused or redesigned. I think I created about sixty or seventy different transition signals for season 1.
WON: The crew is obviously a very different show so Black summer. How different was the pre-rating process for these shows? What did you do before you started working on it?
For The crew, we really started by focusing on the main theme of the title and the overall sound of the show. This process began months before filming for the show began. We had a lot of creative conversations and from that I wrote several themes in different directions and felt until we figured out what worked best for the show.
With Black summer I also start writing months before I start filming, which is certainly not the norm on an hour-long show. Usually on hour-long shows you start tagging a frame after the episodes are almost locked and ready to go. With Black summer I have the creative freedom to really experiment with different sounds and tones to find what will work best for this season. We have a first creative conversation, then I take a few months to experiment and write about twenty three to four minute pieces. When they begin editing, these tracks set the thematic tone and rhythm for each episode. From there, I start tagging images and composing other themes and clues as I go.
WON: Can you talk about how you got involved Black summer? How would you describe the score for Black summer?
John Hyams who created the show has been a friend of mine for years. I always wanted to work with John and never had the opportunity before Black summer. John is such a visionary and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him on Black summer!
The score for Black summer creates a very dark, atmospheric and electronic heavy soundscape. With Black summer I take a more minimalist atmospheric / ambient approach which I think really helps improve what happens on screen. I work closely with the sound designers of the series to create a seamless soundscape between the score and the sound design that doesn’t distract from what’s going on in a given scene, but enhances everything in a realistic and terrifying way.
WON: Do you have a favorite musical moment from Season 1 of Black summer?
In the Diner episode of the “Weapons” chapter, I really enjoyed creating a simple but effective signal that marked a major turning point for Rose (Jaime King) which changes its trajectory in the series. I also really like how each end credit streak in each episode played out a different theme in its entirety.
WON: How do you think your score will be different in Season 2, if at all?
Season 2 of Black summer has a whole new set of themes that reflect the new environment and new characters of the show. I also build on the previous themes from Season 1 but
the sound of the show has definitely evolved and is even more refined and focused in this new season.
WON: Did you read anything online about Black summer did that surprise you?
The biggest surprise I read online when Season 1 came out was a Twitter post from Stephen King praising the series. He said, “BLACK SUMMER (Netflix): Just when you think there’s no fear in zombies anymore, IT happens. Existential hell in the suburbs, stripped to the bone. “