Hesham Nazih (‘Moon Knight’ composer) on finding the right balance between ancient Egypt, modern-day Cairo and fantasy-tinged MCU [Exclusive Video Interview]

“Sometimes a director asks me, ‘is it possible that we can do this or that,’ and I usually say ‘OK let’s try it let’s give it a shot,'” explains composer Hesham Nazih about taking risks when composing for an ambitious and genre-bending series like “Moon Knight.” For our recent webchat he adds, “hypothetically things might not work,” he says, “but I believe in trial and error and trying everything.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

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“Moon Knight” was created by Jeremy Slater (“The Umbrella Academy”), based on the Marvel comics featuring the character of the same name. Slater collaborated with Egyptian helmer Mohamed Diab (who shepherded four of the six episodes) on the Disney Plus limited series, the sixth TV production in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Loki,” “What If…?” and “Hawkeye.”

Oscar Isaac stars as Marc Spector (a.k.a. Moon Knight) and Steven Grant (a.k.a. Mr. Knight), two alters of a man with dissociative identity disorder (who we eventually learn is joined by a third alter, the mysterious Jake Lockley). Marc is a ruthless mercenary who becomes Moon Knight, the avatar (i.e. the manifestation of a deity in bodily form on earth) for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, with his alter Steven, a mild-mannered British gift-shop employee who becomes Mr. Knight, Steven’s persona when he is Khonshu’s avatar. The series co-stars May Calamawy as Spector’s estranged wife Layla El-Faouly (who later becomes the Scarlet Scarab), Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke as villain Harrow and Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham, who voices the moon god Khonshu. “Moon Knight” premiered March 30 to critical acclaim and strong word-of-mouth, scoring an impressive “fresh” rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics reserving special praise for Isaac and the show’s impressive production values and darker tone.

The Egyptian native’s score for “Moon Knight” is filled to the brim with rousing ancient-inspired anthems, delivered by a full orchestra and choir. The mythological and timeless quality at the heart of his score is also tempered by unique Egyptian and middle eastern elements, as well as pulsating synthesizers, percussion and strings, which would be right at home in a Cairo nightclub or on the set of “Indiana Jones.” Nazih is adamant that there should be no “rules” when it comes to creating the musical landscape for a series like this, with its blend of old-school swashbuckling adventure, Egyptology and the comic book-inspired sci-fi/fantasy narrative. “It’s as if you’re managing the major emotions in the picture, so in the end you need to be careful with using melodies and motifs,” he explains. “Sometimes you need to be careful, to not say too much, not talk too much, not reveal too much, not give so many things at once, and then sometimes you need to give all what we have at once in abundance. So yes, it is challenging. I cannot say that there’s a certain routine that makes you go right. You can go wrong, but there is no right way to do it. You need to figure out a way to find the right balance.”

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