Natalie Holt interview: ‘Loki’ composer
While “Loki” was a new show for Disney+, Loki the character (Tom Hiddleston) was far from a fresh face for fans who’ve followed the mischievous scamp through six films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And that’s precisely why composer Natalie Holt felt it was an advantage when she joined the show.
“I haven’t had anyway the experience of working on a show that’s already kind of fleshed out — you know the character, who the actor is, you can see them already,” Holt tells Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video interview above). “So I was quite inspired just by Loki, the character of Loki and the Marvel movies that I’d watch. There was a lot to grab hold of and obviously reading the script and seeing what Loki gets to do, you could already visualize it because you already have that narrative information from all the movies. So I felt like I was a bit ahead of where you usually are with a project when you’re just starting with a script and you don’t know who anyone is and it’s a bit more of a blank canvas.”
The end result is most unique and memorable scores in MCU history. Using instruments like the theremin, sampling and orchestrations, Holt created a haunting, retro-futuristic score for a series that travels through time and space with its home base being the shady and timeless Time Variance Authority. Holt, who will next score “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” submitted a demo suite, which secured her the job, and “pretty much all of it” wound up in the series.
SEE ‘Loki’ star Tom Hiddleston: ‘I was very engaged with the idea of breaking Loki open’
“The ‘TVA’ theme that ended up being used on the kind of David Cronenberg-style opening titles, that was like my sketch that I came up with and sent to Kate [Herron, the director],” Holt shares. “I mixed it really roughly, like I never intended it to be the finished thing, and I re-recorded it with the orchestra and mixed it with the engineer and everything, and then just compared the two and I just preferred the original. Maybe it’s because I heard it more and it was a kind of bit more raw. Weirdly, it was like I tried to improve on it and ended up going back to the demo and then just using the demo for the opening titles.”
The ‘TVA’ piece, which also played over most of the end credits of the six-episode first season, features a subtle ticking clock, a trope that Holt notes is “overused in scores.” But she found a way to put her own twist on it. “You do often see that, like there’s a bomb going off, tick, tick, tick. I feel like it can get a bit hackneyed to hear that clock ticking in a score, so I wanted to do something a bit different with it, so I kind of ran it through an old tape machine and had it kind of spinning around and sounding a bit more gnarly than just a straight-up tick,” she explains. “And it kind of helped with that sort of slightly trippy quality. I did lots of speeding up and slowing down of the recording on a tape machine, which … gave it a sort of slightly faded, less polished quality to the end sound as well.”
The score was an immediate with fans, who flooded the internet with their own covers, something that still blows Holt’s mind. “It was like the show came out and about 24 hours later, these people have done these amazing takes and versions of the music. I’m flattered by it,” she says. “It’s kind of amazing that my music’s gone into people’s brain and they wanted to bother to do a version of it.”