Music Supervisor Brienne Rose on How to Choose the Perfect Music for TV
Brienne Rose is one of the hottest up-and-coming music supervisors in Hollywood today. We caught up with Rose to talk to her about the value of music in film and television, what bands excite her most right now, and how it feels to score an iconic TV...
All photos by Alice Baxley
Chuck Berry made Uma Thurman and John Travolta twist in Pulp Fiction. Simon & Garfunkel infused melancholy into the final, ambiguous frames of The Graduate. And Sia made just about everyone in America ugly-cry in the finale of Six Feet Under. Music is one of the most powerful instruments in a director's toolbox. A well-placed song has the ability to do more than simply enhance a scene—it can create an iconic cultural moment. But behind every classic music moment in television and film is a hardworking music supervisor. These are the people who shape soundtracks, often scouring thousands of tracks to find the perfect song to anchor a scene and quite literally make it sing.
Brienne Rose is one of the hottest up-and-coming music supervisors in the film and television industry. A passionate music aficionada, she began her career as a music coordinator on films like Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know. After working for years within the field, Rose broke off on her own to found Noise/Racket, her music supervision company. Since then, she has scored countless commercials, television shows, and film festival favorites. Her most recent project is TBS's new series Search Party—a dark comedy about a directionless millennial who sets out to solve the mystery of a missing college classmate. Rose's soundtrack feels almost like another character in the show and helps establish the sinister and comedic tone of the series while infusing it with a fresh, indie sound.
I caught up with Rose at her home in Silverlake, Los Angeles to chat about the value of music in film and television, what bands excite her most right now, and how it feels to score an iconic TV moment.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Broadly: Why did you choose a career as a music supervisor? What do you love about your job?
Brienne Rose: It's that unexplainable thing where you just love something and your heart is on fire for it. I definitely fall in love with a new band every week. Or there will be a new song and I just can't help it—I have to listen to it like 12 times in a row. Sometimes I look around and I'm like, oh my God, I can't believe this is my job. I feel so happy and fortunate to be able to do this. That's what makes me really want to work hard and do a good job on my projects. I love the synthesis of the picture and the music and how that can bring out different emotions and underlying themes.
Tell me about your process of selecting music and collaborating with directors—how does it work?
Every process is different, and every project is different. But generally what happens is I often come in during script phase, and that's great because sometimes there's music written into the script or the [directors and producers] have something in mind. It's always good to hear that before anyone shoots anything. But I've also come into projects where the whole movie is done and they're just like, "Here's our budget," and we'll work at it backwards a little bit.
With Search Party I was on from the very get-go. They had finished the pilot and all the scripts were done, but they hadn't started shooting. That was the perfect time to come in because they knew a little about the tone of the show, but they hadn't shot anything. It's just so neat, especially with Charles [Rogers, co-creator of Search Party] and Sarah [Violet Bliss, co-creator], because they had such a clear vision for the show and [we] worked from the beginning, before they shot. I was making playlists, and we were going through and they were like, "I really like this," or "This maybe could work in a scene later on but wouldn't be appropriate for this one." We kind of honed in on the sound from the very beginning, and it's such a special thing when that happens. For me it's like another character.
How did your vision for the music evolve over the course of production?
Well, Sarah and Charles knew that they wanted the Purity Ring song "Obedear" as the theme song, and that was such a brilliant choice because it really has this element that captures this really unique crossover on the show: It's a very delicate balance between this pop millennial world and something that's very dark and mysterious. The show does such a good job of that, and that song in particular really captures that. It's this dark-toned song, but it has this pop sheen on it. So that set an initial tone, and from there we wanted [the rest of the music] to have both those elements—to capture the spirit of right now but also have that darkness, that kind of chilling element. But then there's definitely songs that are really fun pop. And then there's everything in between.
What are some of your other favorite bands that you used in Search Party?
I used a Cross Record song called "The Depths," and that was a really special moment in the show. There's this band out of France called The Limiñanas. I've loved them forever. I've always tried to get them into something, and this time it worked perfectly.
You also work on a lot of feature films. How does creating a soundtrack for a feature differ from working on a television show?
That's a great question. So many differences. The timing is definitely faster with a television show, just because they're shooting things and you're getting dailies and the editing is happening very quickly. I sent the editors a ton of music in the beginning. I wanted to make sure everything worked for the budget, so that I didn't send them something that was going to be too expensive. I actually had a playlist for the editors labeled "priority tracks," because they captured the tone of the show. Those would go into different places in the show, and then there were songs that I would hold on to for a really special moment.
The process was always collaborative. Either I would have an idea for something, or I would send Sarah and Charles ten ideas for one scene and they'd go through them. And then there would be times where it was like that big moment where it's like, "Yes, we found it." Actually the last song in the season was one of those moments where it was like, "This is perfect."
Watch Now: The First Episode of Search Party
Sponsored by Search Party, a New Original Comedy Series on TBS that follows the mystery of a lost soul and her group of self-absorbed friends searching for a college acquaintance who's gone missing.
This article was paid for by TBS and was created independently from Broadly's editorial staff. You can watch the entire season of Search Party starting Monday, November 21st @11/10c on TBS.