It propels the rest of the season. It sounds like a forward thrust on a rocket.
That was my hope.
I recently interviewed Craig Wedren and Anna Waronker, the composers of “Yellowjackets,” both of whom expressed immense gratitude to you for making theme songs hip again.
Oh wow. [laughs] Amazing. That’s very kind.
They, like I think most people who watch the show, never skip the opening credits. Everyone wants to get into “Succession” mode with that soaring orchestra. Did theme songs appeal to you from an early age?
Yeah, I’ve loved theme songs since I was very, very young. I think there’s something about TV theme songs, but also opening credit sequences—and I think about that in movies as well—I’m a big fan of formal cinematic structures. I love opening title sequences. I also love end credit sequences. Not that you can’t do without them too. Every project has its own grammar, so some projects shouldn’t have an opening title sequence, because there’s something powerful about a cold open. But I feel, especially with something like “Succession,” perhaps, there’s almost this idea of an overture to an opera, let’s say, or a musical, where the music is going to bring you into this world and set the stage, no pun intended. It’s sort of saying “here we go.” I think there’s a value to that. Similarly, end credit sequences: I love the feeling after a movie, where you’re sitting, for example, you’re sitting in darkness. You’ve just experienced something. The music is there to sort of allow you a moment of contemplation, to ponder what you have just felt. I love that. I think that’s why we go to movies, that’s why we want to have a chance to explore our own emotions. I think those formal structures sometimes give us a very specific way of experiencing those things.
I think of going to the movies as going to church, you go there to be transformed, to have an experience that isn’t possible elsewhere.
I want to go back to “Austerlitz,” in Season One, to the scene right after the Roys’ family therapy session. They’re in a kitchen, fighting, and Logan comes at Kendall and has to be restrained. You rarely use guitar on the show but you used guitar there. Could you tell me why you made that decision in that scene?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That was something that, to me, speaks to the wonderful collaboration that I have with Jesse Armstrong and with Adam McKay, where we’re always talking about different ideas. There was something there, I remember, that just came from a conversation I was having with them. [The Roys] are in the Southwest. There’s this sort of different environment, they’re like fish out of water kinda. They’re just like, where are they? What is happening to them? What is this? I think there’s something about, in particular, these journeys that Kendall goes on in the show, that I, in hindsight, have sort of a habit of focusing on these journeys. In Season Two, for example, I wrote this piece called “Rondo in F minor” that, to me, is about the melancholic journey that he goes on. The piece we’re talking about has a guitar and a banjo, and it was attempting to give this special sound to that moment for Kendall. It was a very conscious idea of, “What would that sound like?” A lot of what I do for “Succession,” as with a lot of my projects, are experiments. I never assume that something is going to work. My instinct is always to try it out. And worst case scenario, Jesse will say, “This does not work.” [laughs] I’m always like, “Okay.” But it felt really right. I remember recording those pieces and feeling like I found there was something very beautiful about the sound of the banjo and the guitar doing that theme for Kendall there. There were moments, as the show went on, that I was like, “Oh, could I ever use that again?” And it hadn’t felt right. Until, actually—I’m just trying to think if we’ve already seen it, I don’t want to give anything away. But there was a moment in Season Four where I actually brought back that guitar very subtly in an episode.