Filed in: Featured, For Your Consideration, Music

Musical Vibes in Lena Waithe’s Twenties

July 13, 2020 | By

Twenties is a series created by Lena Waithe and follows 24-year-old aspiring writer Hattie (Jonica T. Gibbs), a queer African American woman as she and her two straight best friends Marie (Christina Elmore) and Nia (Gabrielle Graham) navigate the road to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.

The music in the series combines that of the 1940s and 1950s with a hip, unique, and fresh style. The music supervisor Amanda Krieg Thomas and composer Amanda Jones unified their musical vision and talent to create a mix of vintage old Hollywood cues with a contemporary soundtrack featuring artists of LGBTQ, female identifying, indie black artists, and artists of color to create a certain centric vibe.

030420-shows-Twenties-Ep-101-15

The emotion of the music was to capture the nature of the youth with high energy and an emotional connection. Jones explained, “There was an overall “vibe” of capturing youth in all its glory, dramatic to fun. The songs range from soulful melancholia to hyper-bouncy stoner hip-hop. I used live drums, guitar, bass, piano, violin, my voice, and trumpet alongside Native Instruments’ Maschine. I also enhanced those old Hollywood tracks with timpani swells, horns, or string stings/ring outs to conform to a given scene.”

Thomas added, “When we’re dealing with comedy, they’re often aren’t tons of moments for big songs. One of my favorite placements is Asiahn’s song “Nola”, who is queer identifying and she is incredible. It’s a great feature moment with Nia, Tristan, and the lyrics; it’s a really powerful use and just fitting for the show. That song is a longer feature use and another great one called “Bound” by Ari Lennox. I love “Offence” by Little Simz andOMG” by Sampa The Great. We were looking for songs and artists that had really strong opinions and a lot to say. We tried to find that whether it was manifested in something that was more high energy and more driving, had the moments that are a little bit more emotional, such as those two songs; or ones that were a little bit more downtempo like the LION BABE song that we used.”

twenties.032520-shows-Twenties-Ep-104-28

“We would try to find background songs that were very subtle, which added to the mood of the scene. One I really loved was “Situationship” by Snoh Aalegra. On the whole the mood we were going for was a lot more up-tempo, high energy with attitude. People don’t think a lot about the background sources in places. For example, Ida B.’s house, we had background music playing there quite a bit, especially in the scene where Hattie is over there. We wanted the goal that spoke to that energy that was happening between Ida B. and Hattie, which is sexy and flirty, but also both very vulnerable. Sometimes there are songs that seem small for setting the mood are truly important and there’s a lot of really good artists that we love in those moments. For a show like this, we always wanted to be thinking how can we feature artists even in the non-featured spots, even if it’s a background spotlight,” the music supervisor emphasized.

The collaboration between the composer and music supervisor was very much connected, contrasted, and balanced between the music. “Our collaboration was very much kismet. A bunch of my original score worked great when juxtaposed against her song selections. Considering a lot of the licensed music was hip-hop, it informed my choices for score and mixing sensibility. I didn’t want my cues to sound tiny next to a “banger” so I mixed my score cues like hip-hop songs so they could flow into one another without their being a dramatic dynamic shift,” the composer noted.

twenties.091719-shows-Twenties-Ep-102-25

Thomas praised, “We supplied the sweeping old Hollywood cues from the 40s and 50s. Amanda had to navigate between these very big orchestral old Hollywood cues and contemporary songs and toe the line of sounds that worked her contemporary tone initially with both and also speaking to the emotions of the scenes and the characters. When Amanda could do something that fits the scene better and is tailored to that moment, she could create something unique to the show that might fit better than a song. She and her sound had to juggle all of that creatively with her score cues. She really captured the energy of the show without going too broad comedy, without going too predictable in a show that has a very heightened tone, and has this like old Hollywood sound.”

Music Supervisor Amanda Krieg-Thomas

Music Supervisor Amanda Krieg-Thomas

Music supervisor Amanda Krieg Thomas is the 2019 winner of the Black Reel Awards for Television in the category of Outstanding Music for Pose. She also holds nominations by the Guild of Music Supervisors Awards (GMS) for her excellence on Pose and American Crime Story with a nomination by the Hollywood Music In Media Awards (HMMA) for The Politician. A few other distinguishable music supervision credits include 9-1-1, Hollywood, American Horror Story, Claws, and The Americans. Composer Amanda Jones has composed for more than 30 projects.

The soundtrack in Twenties delivers a unique and fresh approach that captures the youthful vibe by representing and shining a light on LGBTQ artists, black artists, artists of color, unknown indie artists, and female artists with a combination of a high energy contemporary score mixed in with classical score cues from the 1940s and 50s. The Official Soundtrack for Season 1 of Twenties includes over 40 songs and over 80 distinct score cues.

Official Spotify Playlist (Music from the Series) – Twenties (Season 1):

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1il9blREstqgurl46nc6td?si=xi4s0gBBR_yFzEenyWIQWQ

Composer Amanda Jones

Composer Amanda Jones

Original Score by Amanda Jones:
Hattie’s First Day
Writer’s Meeting
Nia Looks at Old Photos
Is That It
Inhale Exhale
Enough Friends
Twenties End Credits
Finally Writing
Hattie’s World

 

BTL Production Listings