KURT, YOUR JOURNEY INTO MUSIC IS QUITE UNIQUE: FROM THE STREETS OF CHICAGO TO FRENCH CONSERVATORIES TO BMI AWARDS. PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT JOURNEY. YOU HAVE CERTAINLY PAID SOME DUES!
I sometimes feel like I’ve lived several lifetimes. I was born in the public housing projects of Chicago, to parents that expected all of my four siblings and myself to go to college, be descent people and succeed! I was lucky to find music at a very young age. I wrote my first symphony at 12. I don’t think it was brilliant, but I do think the sheer ballsiness to even try was. (Half of the road to success truly is “Showing up!”) From that point on…I was never scared to write. It seemed obvious and natural to me, though I never considered myself a composer. I never thought that I would in fact become a composer, but after touring with jazz artists like Freddie Hubbard, a stint as a club booker, a year living homeless on the streets, releasing a record, working with Natalie Cole, Brenda Russell and others and finally composing over 1,300 episodes of TV and numerous films…Here I am! Kurt Farquhar…composer!
YOU ARE A 7 TIME BMI AWARD WINNER FOR ‘MOST PERFORMED MUSIC ON PRIME-TIME TELEVISION’. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE TABLE THAT MAKES YOUR MUSIC SO APPEALING AND YOURSELF SO MUCH IN DEMAND?
I bring a different perspective. I bring my life experiences! When you open the gates and let others into a space…the space itself expands and changes and that’s good for everyone! If in fact I am in demand…it’s, because of my differences. That and I feel that (those who work with me know) I am at one with the nature of this craft. I do not fight it. I embrace this collaborative art of film making. I embrace being a part of someone else’s ultimate vision. I embrace their requests for changes in my vision. I embrace the hours and hours of long arduous work. I am in rapture with and embrace the moments of storytelling that have been entrusted to me…that I might bring more light and understanding to their story through the addition of my music.
CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH YOUR PROCESS OF CRAFTING THE SOUND FOR THE SERIES ‘BLACK LIGHTNING’? YOU ARE MAKING QUITE A BOLD STATEMENT WITH YOUR SONIC PALETTE!
Well, that sound is not just made by me alone. Our incredibly gifted show runners Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil have an intense vision when it comes to music. They are always pushing and trying to stretch the bounds of what music can be on a show and that’s a wonderful environment in which to work. They work very closely with our brilliant music supervisor Kier Lehman to choose just the right songs to be featured in the show. One of the challenges for me is to create a score sound that feels at one with all of these songs. At times (if I’m doing it right) you can’t tell where the song ends and the score begins. At the same time…this is a super hero story, so you can’t turn your back on what people have come to expect in that arena. I don’t let them down in that regard. I just put it in a different wrapper! I am blending Orchestral/Electronic Score with Trap, EDM, R&B vocals, Dubstep and a liberal dose of WTF! All of this presents a particular challenge for our amazing music editor Josh Winget and some of the best show mixers I’ve ever worked with Jeff Haboush and Joel Catalan. Every week, I want to start by saying I’m sorry to those guys. They and music mixer Mark Curry have the distinct challenge of making me sound like I know what I’m doing! How they blend all of the sound effects, dialogue and music into one harmonious symphony each week is simply amazing!
YOU ONCE SAID THAT COMPOSING FOR TV ‘IS LIKE PRODUCING AN ALBUM EVERY WEEK’ CAN YOU PLEASE ELABORATE ON THAT STATEMENT?
I was simply equating the length of an album with volume of music that a TV composer has to write each week. It’s a lot! Especially if you’re lucky enough to be working on multiple TV series as I and other composers do.
YOU ARE AN AFRICAN AMERICAN COMPOSER THRIVING IN AN INDUSTRY THAT IS NOT OVERLY DIVERSE. WHAT CAN BE DONE TO CHANGE THIS AND DO YOU PERCEIVE YOURSELF AS A ROLE MODEL TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO PURSUE THIS CAREER?
What can be done? Simple…Hire more black people, women and other minorities! It won’t hurt! It just expands and changes the space and that’s good for everybody! I am a role model to everyone who believes in the power of “Yes” and to everyone who thinks working hard, reaching out with decency, living your joy and that the miracle of every moment is magic! To everyone who feels locked out…I say, the key is you! Come on in! Welcome to Hollywood!