Zach Robinson and Leo Birenberg interview: ‘Cobra Kai’ composers
“If you are watching the show and think ‘the music really just hit hard there,’ that’s generally a part where Leo and I got really excited,” admits Zach Robinson about scoring “Cobra Kai.” Leo Birenberg adds, “I’d rather have a big swing and either hit a home run or a monster foul ball. But I’m down for both.” Watch our exclusive video interview above with the composer duo.
“Cobra Kai” is the Netflix series that continues the story from the 1980’s “Karate Kid” movies. Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) now has a family and owns a car dealership. His high school nemesis, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), is a down on his luck battler with an estranged son. To settle rivalries and relive glory days, both men set up competing dojos. In the fourth season of the show they have to join forces when the ‘Cobra Kai’ dojo is taken over. Birenberg says, “There are themes for characters, themes for dojos, themes for relationships and some themes are much more abstract, like the karate philosophies. We have got to have at least 30 themes at this point that are in play at all times.”
The two final episodes of season four saw all the competing dojos come together for an epic All-Valley Karate Tournament. Robinson reveals, “The story for ‘Cobra Kai’ doesn’t work unless you go as big as possible with the music. That’s kind of our thesis statement. It’s always, how big can we get before someone tells us it’s too big? That never happens. It’s giving the audience permission to believe that these people are fighting to the death via karate in the valley.”
Birenberg explains, “When you’re going as big as possible, and you have something as potentially ridiculous as middle aged men fighting karate, you don’t want to make it feel like a parody. Sometimes when you’re going really big that is always a risk. So Zach and I are constantly tossing around the word sincerity when we’re scoring.” For fans of their iconic score, the duo is putting on a concert, ‘Enter the Dojo: The Music of Cobra Kai Live,’ on June 23 at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.