Brendan “Eskmo” Angelides Interview: ’13 Reasons Why’ composer

For the second season of Netflix’s hit series “13 Reasons Why,” composer Brendan “Eskmo” Angelides wanted to up the ante a bit. Season 1’s score had a gentle piano motif, but Season 2’s music palette features a throbbing, drum-based pulse, capturing the dread and threat of the “Who’s leaving these Polaroids?” mystery. And the genesis for that sound was none other than a member of Genesis.

Peter Gabriel was a big inspiration in terms of the drums,” Angelides said during Gold Derby’s Meet the Experts: Music panel, moderated by this author (watch above). “There’s like chords on all the drums and everything. It was having essentially a general idea of, ‘OK, it’s Round 2, up the ante, make it a bit more intense.’ And the idea of the Polaroids having a particular kind of energy to them … something that would pull you into it a bit, which felt like a good counterpart to the super soft stuff.”

Angelides, who’s a member of The Echo Society composer collective and also scores “Billions,” built on the Season 1 score in other ways as well. Fans with keen ears might notice that the music over the Episode 4 closing credits sounds familiar. (Pro tip: Turn off the autoplay for that episode.) That’s because it’s a percussive remix of his Season 1 “Tapes” theme.

“That was one that literally, the showrunner Brian Yorkey, had just said, ‘You know, take us out on this one. Just do something, whatever you feel is best for here,’” Angelides recalled. “And because Alex (Miles Heizer) is listening to the tape … it just made sense to have it feel like it had weight to it. So honestly it was maybe a little selfish, but it felt really good writing it and I kind of just followed it. … My background is in a lot of electronic stuff and there are moments throughout the show where I’m able to kind of allow that part myself to really come out. And that’s one of them for sure.”

Perhaps Angelides’ most difficult job is striking the appropriate tone for the young adult drama’s toughest, and sometimes very graphic, scenes. The series deals with an array of important, timely issues — suicide, sexual assault, bullying, to name a few — which Angelides said he was initially unsure how to tackle before the first season.

“I’m fairly new to [scoring TV shows]. The idea of scoring a rape scene, just on paper, it’s like, ‘OK, that’s an interesting thing to kind of approach.’ How is that going to affect my mind, watching the screen 67 times in a row while I’m writing music to it?” he said. “And genuinely, by the time I had gotten to the point in the first season, I was always so immersed in the characters and I believed in the characters that it wasn’t very intense for me. There was weight to it, but I was very committed to wanting to make it good.”

When it came time to score the pivotal — and controversial — scene in the Season 2 finale, in which Tyler (Devin Druid) gets sexually assaulted in a bathroom, Angelides didn’t want to overplay it, coming up with a faint theme that briefly escalates to a piercing sustained note.

“Male rape is a thing. It’s something that happens and it’s something that is rarely talked about, nevermind put onscreen,” he said. “So for me, I kind of wanted to have the weight of it, and we went back and forth a couple times about really narrowing the right tone because we didn’t want to have it be too much, but we wanted it to feel like it was something that was very heavy and real, kind of just carrying the scene, but also trying to do it in a real subtle way but have it still feel super weighty.”

“13 Reasons Why” was just renewed for a third season last week, so Angelides, who works best visually with scenes in front of him, doesn’t yet have any ideas for Season 3. But he expects to expand on his Season 2 work. “There’s definitely going to be more drums, I know that, for sure,” he said.

Video produced by David Janove and Andrew Merrill

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UPLOADED Jun 15, 2018 7:14 pm