Liza Richardson (‘Station Eleven’ music supervisor): ‘Gold’ is when you can ‘blow everybody away’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“I have all kinds of little playlists and my secret weapon folder,” two-time Emmy nominated music supervisor Liza Richardson (“Watchmen,” “Lovecraft Country”) reveals about how she is often curating lists of left-field oddities, deep cuts and needle-drops. “I’m always judging,” she says. “I’m always asking myself, ‘is it good enough to survive being on my Spotify playlist?’ It has to be so good if I’m going to leave it on there. Does it have certain things that I’m looking for like a hook or a certain layer of sophistication or a certain layer of humor or irony?”

Richardson supervised all of the music featured in the HBO Max limited series “Station Eleven,” which is set in the aftermath of a fictional catastrophic pandemic that wipes out most of civilization. “I loved the group that I worked with. I mean, that’s a huge part for me. We had so much fun,” she admits about her experience on the show. “I love a story that’s super complex and layered, with things pulled together in ways that you wouldn’t expect.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

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“Station Eleven” was created by Patrick Somerville, based on the 2014 sci-fi/fantasy novel of the same name by Emily St. John Mandel. Twenty years after a flu pandemic wipes out most of the world, a group of survivors who make their living as traveling performers encounter a violent cult led by a man whose past is unknowingly linked to a member of the troupe.

The series has been met with rave reviews from critics, buoyed by strong word of mouth as audiences inevitably draw parallels to their shared experiences of living under the weight of the (albeit less extreme) COVID-19 pandemic in real life. The HBO Max hit has been lauded for its strong ensemble cast led by Himesh Patel, Mackenzie DavisMatilda Lawler, Lori PettyNabhaan RizwanDavid Wilmot, Daniel Zovatto and Gael Garcia Bernal against a haunting backdrop of a post-apocalyptic dystopia where humanity has been whittled down to a few survivors scattered across the Earth.

Typically, music supervisors are tasked with adding depth and emotion to a scene with a certain musical choice that transcends the words on the page. It’s a delicate art form that requires an ear for how a certain song might resonate with the audience. Richardson admits that rather than always relying on the well-known tracks and classics, she tends to suggest songs from an eclectic mix of musical genres from a wide range of artists. “Personally, I feel like a lot of music supervisors are like me in that you’d rather find the deeper cut. You’d rather surprise people and blow everybody away with how cool the song is and that you’ve never heard it,” she explains. “That’s what I call music supervision gold when you can when you can find that thing. I hate to admit it, but I’m not that good at the obvious choice.”

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