Mark Isham, Nick Isham, Ruby Ibarra (‘The Cleaning Lady’ composers): ‘What it means to capture a gritty hip hop kind of emotion’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“The first thing you have to learn is that you’re on the team,” explains Mark Isham about writing music for television. For our recent webchat, “The Cleaning Lady” composer continues, “Once you have that as a base, you create your own voice. But that’s a crucial difference than just writing a record of what you feel you want to say.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

The hit Fox drama, recently renewed for a second season, was developed from an Argentinian series (“La chica que limpia”). It tells the story of Thony (Elodie Yung), an undocumented Cambodian doctor who becomes a cleaner for an organized crime syndicate to earn money for her son’s medical treatment and stay in the United States.

Isham is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning composer for the series. He also collaborates with his son Nick Isham and Filipino-American hip hop artist Ruby Ibarra to write original songs for the series. They also joined our webchat. Nick reveals, “It starts with communication and capturing the emotion. I’ve learned a lot over the years from my dad in terms of those two things. Practicing and working on what it means to capture a gritty hip hop kind of emotion. It’s really taking the time to listen to who else has done it, and then just doing my best version of ourselves of that, of capturing those kinds of emotions.”

Working on “The Cleaning Lady” provided new opportunities for Ibarra. She admits, “As a music artist I’ve always just written for myself. For the first time I had to kind of think outside of the box and also think outside of my own experiences. I wrote specifically to the script. I was also given the prompt and the responsibility to sort of speak from the main character Thony’s perspective. Nick and Mark both did such a wonderful job with the music production. I felt like my job was made easy for me, because with the music already being so emotional. I just had the music guide me.”

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