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Interview: Composer Nicholas Britell on the Music of ‘The Underground Railroad’

It goes without saying that Nicholas Britell is a musical genius. A two-time Academy Award nominee, as well as an Emmy Award winner, Britell is one of the best composers in the business. Whether it’s recurring work with directors like Barry Jenkins and Adam McKay, or just his for-hire gigs, he brings something special to it. Most recently, Britell contributed the score to Jenkins’ limited series The Underground Railroad. Unsurprisingly, it’s spectacular and likely to have him up for another Emmy. A month or so ago, he was kind enough to spend some time talking to me about it, along with plenty of other topics. That discussion comes your way today.

Here is a bit from our rave review of The Underground Railroad on the site:

Whether it’s the ending of Moonlight or the idea of love as the ultimate act of protest in If Beale Street Could Talk, Jenkins’ work has always found this juxtaposition of presenting grace notes within the terrors of the world – some of those notes courtesy of cinematographer James Laxton and composer Nicholas Britell, Jenkins’ recurring collaborators, working with him again here. Few filmmakers are so capable of illustrating the beauty of life that is being squashed down by oppressive systems the way that Jenkins has been able to, and it’s unsurprising that this quality of his work shines through again across these ten episodes.

Below, you can see my conversation with Britell. We talk a lot about working with filmmakers like Jenkins and McKay, as well as a lot about The Underground Railroad. Picking the brain of a musician is always fascinating to me, and this is no exception. He’s a lovely man, one I really enjoyed talking to, and I hope you feel the same way. Plus, his work is just next level great, as many of you know all too well by now…

Here now is my interview with The Underground Railroad composer Nicholas Britell. Enjoy:

The Underground Railroad is currently available to watch on Prime Video!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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