Torin Borrowdale Interview: ‘Locke and Key’ composer
Composing the musical score for Netflix’s fantasy series “Locke and Key” proved to be surprisingly personal for Torin Borrowdale. The composer crafted a dark, sweeping score in the vein of some of his favorite scores as a child from composers like Danny Elfman and James Newton Howard. “‘Locke and Key’ was a big opportunity for me to fulfill my childhood fantasy of what I wanted film scoring to be,” Borrowdale says in an exclusive new interview with Gold Derby. “I wanted to make sure the score had the breadth and the scope of this epic series. I didn’t want to limit the sound of the score so I wanted it to be a classic orchestra.” Watch the exclusive video interview with Borrowdale above.
It all started with the opening titles theme, which Borrowdale notes is symbolic of the Locke children discovering the whole new world of the Keyhouse. The theme song starts simple but expands out to a full orchestra. “As it gets bigger, that’s you realizing the full potential of these keys and using the Anywhere Key to go around the world or all these crazy transformations.” On top of the title theme, Borrowdale composed the entire score for the 10-episode season, requiring him to write and record four-and-a-half hours of music. “As a composer, as much time as you have, you end up using all of it,” Borrowdale describes. “If you’ve had three weeks to do one episode, you take all three weeks. If you’ve got one week, you just do it one week. Generally you get less sleep and things are a little more stressful but it kind of comes out the same.”
One of the more emotional themes is “The Locke Lullaby,” featured often in the Locke children’s flashbacks to their time with their late father. The nostalgia melody came from a harrowing experience Borrowdale had just been going through. “Before I wrote it, my wife was in a serious accident and I didn’t know for a little while what was going to be the results of that,” he recalls. “So that was my brush with death and I wrote ‘The Locke Lullaby’ out of that because I didn’t know what was gonna happen and luckily with a show like this, viewers are able to participate in a tragedy without actually having to experience it. Borrowdale adds that the theme just poured out of him after coming so close to tragedy.
While Borrowdale’s score is featured significantly throughout “Locke & Key,” the composer did not ramp up the emotion any further than it needed to be. “I really relied on the themes to give the emotion and as long as it was in that emotional world, I knew it made sense with the story and because those themes are tied to ‘The Locke Lullaby,’ to certain characters, the mood usually felt really natural to begin with and I didn’t have to push it too far,” states the composer.