INTERVIEW: Composer Of THIS IS US Siddhartha Khosla Talks Goldspot And Temp Love

In case you’re not up-to-speed, This Is Us is a Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning, tear-jerking drama on NBC and tying all the heartbreaking and beautiful moments together is the work of composer Siddhartha “Sid” Khosla.

This Is Us is only one of three shows Sid is currently scoring. The musician-turned-composer also weaves his sonic spells around ABC’s The Kids Are Alright and Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu. It leaves Sid with little time, so PopAxiom stopped time long enough to talk to Sid about making music for This Is Us, the great collaboration that is filmmaking, and disrupting “temp love.”

The G-Spot, That’s Goldspot, Pervs

Sid’s music career started as a singer-songwriter and founder of the band Goldspot. But things changed “Eventually my career evolved into composing.” A big reason for the transformation was This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman “[Dan] … called me up to work on a show he created years before called Neighbors.”

Work on Goldspot waned, but Sid says composing is “… what I do and I absolutely love it.”

It’s been five years since Goldspot released an album. As a full-time composer, does Sid envision a return to that kind of music-making? “I’d like to make a new record. I plan on it. When I have the time, it’s going to happen, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

If and when Goldspot returns, expect something spectacular “I look forward to returning to that but with the experience of composing now as an influence.”

Composing And Compartmentalizing

Three shows and more; that’s the life the composer juggles. How does he do it? “My brain likes to compartmentalize … I enjoy jumping from one show to the other because it kind of keeps everything fresh to me. I don’t burn out on any particular project. My mind is taking breaks … I think that’s a good thing.

Sid adds to the list of what he thinks are the benefits of his ‘compartmentalization’ “It widens your palette too, so you’re jumping from one sonic texture to another … maybe I can learn something about one while working on the other.”

Every project requires a different set of compartments too “My process depends on multiple things. Who is making the content? Who is the director of the film, who are the Producers? Understanding what they want and what they respond to.”

Sid cites an example “I work on Marvel’s Runaways, and I know that Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage who created the show and music supervisor Alex Patsavas they listen to a lot of great music and appreciate different things because the music they listen to is so diverse.”

About This Is Us

After Goldspot and various shows and films “Dan sent me the pilot script [to This Is Us] and asked me to write a piece of music that the script inspired. My instinct was to pick up my acoustic guitar and write something … knowing there would be these jumps in time. I felt that doing a score that sounds like the 60s and the 70s and the 80s would be too manic. So I focused on something organic, timeless, and classic.”

Dan calls Sid the “secret weapon” of the show and over time their work as evolved “We had an idea of what the world would be, and it was just a matter of coming up with something cool and interesting that we all liked. We’ve lived in that space over the course of the series, and over time it’s become more cinematic in a way.”

Conforming the Cue

Making film and television is the culmination of work performed by (often) hundreds of people. And while Sid has his personal process for doing what he does, it’s only part of a great process that’s going on “I can write something but the scene might change 50 times, and the editor might conform the sound cue so that it works the way it was intended.”

As part of the great collaboration that is filmmaking “The team is important. Without all those people it would be insane for one composer to try and keep up with everything.”

The final result of all this cumulative work “It’s a special thing. You get to collaborate with people that sometimes you never even see. People all over the world doing their part and this show comes out that people love.”

Temp Love

Temp tracks are part of the filmmaking process. For This Is Us, previous episodes are now the temp tracks. However, that’s not the norm “Sometimes I receive a cut that has music and sometimes there’s nothing. I go and figure out what the scene needs and make it happen.”

What does Sid think about temp tracks? “I like having temp [tracks] once in a while. But it’s also nice to see a scene clean.” And there is a dark side to it “People get attached to temp. But it’s hard because they’re seeing the scene or cut over and over with this same music. It’s a challenge sometimes to bypass ‘temp love.’”

Wrapping Up

What composers does Sid listen to? “Alexander Desplat blows my mind. He does quirky and dramatic in such interesting ways. But there are so many. Nathan Barr and Mac Quayle do phenomenal stuff too.”

Sid creates music for three shows right now, but is there still more coming? “I’m working on the Netflix film called Beats.”

Thanks to Siddhartha Khosla and Impact24 PR for making this interview possible.

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Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.

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