Emmy Award Nominations 2021 – Discussing the UK Music Supervisors’ Work

By Vicky Bennett / GMS Coordinator

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced on the 13th of July.  We would like to congratulate all of the music supervisors who have been a pivotal part in creating and curating music for each of the various TV series that have been nominated.

In light of these nominations, we had the absolute pleasure to speak with the UK nominees for the various tv series for ‘Outstanding Music Supervision’ which feature interviews with the following:

Music Supervisor,  Sarah Bridge The Crown
Music Supervisor, Ciara Elwis & Matt Biffa I May Destroy You

We firstly spoke with Sarah Bridge who was the music supervisor for The Crown – Season 4 who dives into the episode ‘Fairytale’ which is nominated for an Emmy.

  • How did you feel that the music selected, played an integral part in the episode, ‘Fairytale’?

This particular episode is an especially powerful piece on a young Diana and focuses heavily on the vast transitions she went through at an early age. The music throughout the season and notably in ‘Fairytale’ is featured and used as a comforting escape for Diana from the realities of what she is living through at the time.
It was in this episode that it felt incredibly important to select the appropriate song choices that worked to heighten the emotional journey we go on with Diana.I think one of the most prominent moments that exemplify this is the use of “Song For Guy” by Elton John in episode three. It plays during scene in which Diana is feeling utterly alone and despairing, she is losing herself in dance and music – it is a bittersweet moment of sadness and empowerment.
We go on an incredibly emotional journey with Diana and sought to score this both with Martin Phipps’ original music and songs that felt true to her character.

  • After you initially read the script for this episode, which scene did you most look forward to working on?

The opening scene featuring Diana and “Edge of Seventeen”. I read the script and then made the suggestion to Ben and Peter that we look for a song that could run across the montage sequence of Diana sharing her news, celebrating her happiness and landing in the club with her and friends dancing and singing to the song. It was a lot of fun exploring options pre-filming and seeing it come together in the edit.

  • This episode reflects the change that Diana experienced from the highs of being proposed to, to the lows of the loneliness and isolation once she had moved into the Palace. 
    — Knowing that Stevie Nicks sings ‘Edge of Seventeen’ in this episode both with and without the isolated vocals, do you think this was a good representation of how to portray and mirror Diana’s feelings and what process did you go through to achieve this?

The opening of this episode is the happiest we see Diana in the show and director Benjamin Caron and I both felt that “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks captured the spirit of the euphoric joy that Diana was feeling in this moment.We were sent the stems for editing purposes and whilst listening through were captured by the raw beauty and haunting feel of the acapella, this led to us trying it over the end titles, it felt very significant and connected to the place of isolation where Diana finds herself at the end of the episode.

In a few words…
I am over the moon to be nominated for my music supervision work on The Crown. It is such an incredible production to be a part of and an absolute pleasure to collaborate with a wonderful and hugely talented team. This season provided an opportunity for us to experiment with a lot more commercial music as we step into the ’80s and the younger generation of the Royal Family begin to take centre stage. It was a lot of fun soundtracking this season!

Next, we spoke with Ciara Elwis & Matt Biffa for their role of music supervisor on Emmy nominated, I May Destroy You for episode 12, ‘Ego Death’.

  • How did you feel that the music selected, played an integral part in the episode, ‘Ego Death’?

Ciara & Matt:
This episode revolves around 3 different fantasies where Arabella explores how she might react if she came face to face with the man who assaulted her. Given that the characters, themes and location of those 3 fantasies are quite similar the music selected is key in illustrating the different tone and mood of these dream-like sequences.

  • After you initially read the script for this episode, which scene did you most look forward to working on?

Ciara & Matt:
I don’t remember there being a specific scene, but I was most aware of the repetition of certain scenes, so my mind initially went to how we would approach those ‘anchor’ moments musically given that we weren’t going to use a composer for the project. We ended up using a piece of Ionian choral music, with a different track layered over it for each of the 3 repetitions.

  • This episode reflects how Arabella processes the painful trauma by moving through it, if not necessarily beyond it, and ultimately finding some closure by sharing her story through the book she writes.
    Throughout the episode ‘Ego Death’, possible eventualities are presented of how Arabella can control her situation in real life and presumably, in the book she has been struggling to write throughout the series. This shows the three different scenarios of how the survivor would react towards the person who assaulted them in the form of revenge, forgiveness and taking back control of their own trauma.
  • — How did you collaborate with Michaela Coel to ensure the music that had been chosen, represented and supported these key scenes in the final episode? 

Ciara & Matt:
As mentioned before, we spoke with Michaela and the rest of the editorial team about the sort of mood and tone we wanted to create and also how we wanted the music to function in the sequences. There’s a lot of background bar music that needed to serve the dual purpose of working diegetically and also as an underscore to the events, so it was important for cues to have the right sort of tempo whilst also accentuating the drama. Firestarter was scripted so that had been decided before we came onto the project, so our main tasks was to find songs with a contrasting feel to the other two scenarios. That said, we also wanted all of the music to have a slightly ethereal edge to it given the fanatical theme of the episode.

  • Which of the songs in the final episode stood out to you most and was there a particular musical highlight from this episode for you?

Ciara & Matt:
I love the Firestarter usage firstly because of how the sequence was shot and edited – it looks like a music video(!) but also because it was a really tricky clearance situation so every time I see it I’m reminded of how worthwhile it can feel when you come out the other side with everyone happy!
I’m also really happy with our use of ‘rain comes down’ by Vince Staples as it’s a clever link lyrically to a track we seeded through the season ‘It’s gonna rain’ by Rev. Milton Brunson and the Thompson community singers – ‘it’s gonna rain’ plays during the initial sequence where Arabella is drugged, so it feels like the musical narrative changes as Arabella decides to change the narrative on her assault.

Thank you Sarah, Ciara and Matt for taking the time to speak with us here at GMS, we wish both all the best of luck in the next stage and we are excited to see what projects you will share with us in the future!

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