Siddhartha Khosla Creates Diverse Scores For “Runaways”, “This Is Us” And “Me, Myself and I”
Siddhartha Khosla photographed in his studio by Alden Wallace
By: Marjorie Galas
Hulu’s upcoming series “Runaways” marks the third entry in a trio of fall projects showcasing the composer Siddhartha Khosla’s diverse range. Unlike the organic-infused instrumentation of “This is Us” or surf guitar sounds in “Me, Myself and I,” “Runaways” finds the composer crafting a completely electronic score.
Based on a Marvel comic, “Runaways” follows a group of gifted teens who rebel against their supervillain parents, or The Pride. After meeting with executive producer Josh Schwartz and reading the pilot script, Khosla felt the content; simultaneously emotional and thrilling, needed an out-of-the-box sound. He convinced the producers that a non-orchestral score would perfectly suit the layered storylines. Reflecting on the sound of electronic bands that inspired him as a teen, such as Depeche Mode and The Cure, Khosla selected vintage synths including the Juno 60, Oberheim DX and the 808 Kick Drum. Working off the pilot script, Khosla wrote music for a few scenes he then shared with the team who immediately determined it was the best sound for the show and main title theme.
“It was nice to break away from what is commonly heard in that universe,” said Khosla. “It’s extremely synth heavy, but also very simple.”
Captivated by the rich, full sounds the Juno 60 creates, Khosla utilized and layered the electronic sounds, creating an ethereal tapestry that emphasizes the complex emotions the characters explore. While he experimented with more traditional instruments, including guitars, the only organic element, vocals, are run through a vocoder before being introduced. To further explore the series action sequences, Khosla developed several themes, highlighting the intensity of The Pride and the drama and excitement of the teen rebellion.
While electronic lies outside the “This is Us” universe, Khosla has found his music continues to evolve in the series sophomore year. He experienced a turning point in season one when he was scoring a flashback scene Kate Pearson (Chrissy Metz) has to her father’s funeral. Exploring the percussive quality of the sound his fingers made tapping against his studio desk, he recorded multiple tracks of the sound, layering them with an acoustic guitar. For Khosla, the recording touched upon a spiritual element of music, something he was exposed to as a child growing up in India. While he does not rely on ethnic instruments to create a “world music” sound, he’s continued to experiment with organic elements – sometimes utilizing objects collected within his studio – to connect to the emotional quality of the show. This season find sections of score utilizing drumming with a cracked snare drum head and building new sounds through layered elements, like a cello and vocal on a single track.
For comedy “Me, Myself and I”, Khosla developed a 60’s Beach Boy sound. The happy yet melancholy quality enhanced the drama. With longtime engineer Jeff Peters, Khosla worked at Sunset Sound Recorders, the studio where “Pet Sounds” was recorded. They crafted a sonic palette heavy with reverb and built a library of sounds and cues that could be pulled for the show.