Labrinth’s post about creating the musical landscape of Euphoria, in collaboration with Zendaya: “It was supernatural” appeared first on Consequence.
At the end of HBO season 1 Euphoria, Zendaya’s character, Rue, relapses. The moment is communicated via a hazy, melodramatic musical sequence loaded with a chorus of gospel vocals, a marching band, an explosion of buzzing electric beats, and Zendaya’s own vocals. The episode ends with Zendaya breaking the fourth wall, her still expressive eyes piercing the camera, before she collapses out of frame and things go black.
It’s one of the perfectly produced moments, with lush lighting and precise camera choreography, that made the show so beloved – and it wouldn’t have been possible without the person who wrote (and duo) this last piece of music – Labrinth.
The award-winning composer, songwriter and producer has joined Result to discuss the hit show’s Season 2 music on Zoom from his home studio, where a wall of keyboards serves as his backdrop. The teen addiction drama’s second entry also unfolded with plenty of talk and off-screen drama, with conversations surrounding the show’s notorious nudity, its creator (Sam Levinson), and a finale. rushed and unsatisfactory reigning as main subjects.
With so many distractions, viewers who love the show can still agree on a few things: Zendaya is amazing. And the music rules.
One could easily argue that the show might not have taken off the way it has – capturing social conversation and spawning multiple viral trends on TikTok – if not for the musical moments created under Labrinth’s stewardship. Beyond the jaw-dropping Season 1 finale, Labrinth’s creations for the show’s score like “Still Don’t Know My Name” and “Mount Everest” had their own escapist moments, propelling all things Euphoria-core increasingly high in the pop culture conversation.
Despite the mess surrounding Season 2, it’s clear that Zendaya cares deeply about the story. Euphoria is revealing. She’s also the show’s executive producer, and the thoughtfulness she seems to have around many aspects of the show silences any naysayers who might try to point this out as a vanity title for the young superstar.
Case in point: Labrinth’s confirmation that Zendaya was heavily involved in the musical process, explaining how the story could serve the score. “She would come hang out in the studio and watch me work on different bits of the score,” he says of the actress. “She would tell me about Rue, and I would say we should just write together.”
And they did, their efforts producing one of the best moments of a sometimes disjointed season. In episode 4, a broken street fantasizes about wandering through a church, filled with strangers and dotted with a few familiar faces. The scene is highlighted by a track co-written by Zendaya and Labrinth, titled “I’m Tired”, with Labrinth himself appearing in the scene. “Lord, you know I’m tired,” they sing before Zendaya (as Rue) falls into the arms of Labrinth, seen onscreen as a choir singer in the church.
It is then easy to wonder whether one informs the other when it comes to Euphoria, and how closely the plot could relate to the music and vice versa. Some music was written in advance, he shares, while others were written after filming was underway. Still others were written in standalone moments before being brought to creator Sam Levinson, who worked the script around the new ideas presented.
“I am flexible as a creative. If you throw me two spoons, I’ll figure out how to make a song out of it,” says Labrinth. “Actually, I once did a song with spoons and two burnt toasts,” he adds.
Much of Labrinth’s music for Euphoria in particular is defined by explosive percussion, glitchy and futuristic rhythms, massive bass drops and stacked harmonic vocals. Elsewhere, it builds tension with plucky strings and sometimes eerie xylophone sounds. A season highlight that stands out in retrospect (and for anyone who’s seen the show) is episode 5, in which Rue goes through a nightmarish relapse.
A track used in this particular episode, titled “Yeh I Fuckin’ Did It”, captures the character’s desperation and chaos in a moment of total free fall. “I love what they did with it, and it was so collaborative,” he says of how the song merged seamlessly with the storyline. “Sat [Levinson] and the editors have done a great job.
While the third season of Euphoria isn’t slated to premiere until 2024, fans of Labrinth’s work can expect plenty of new music to enjoy in the meantime. He is working on a fantastic space-themed concept album that tells the story of his journey with his wife. “I wrote a whole album to turn my relationship into drama,” he shares. He draws inspiration from everything from classical music to 80s landscape terminator movies or, of course, those aforementioned burnt chunks of bread, neglected in the toaster while locked away in the studio.
“I made a beat out of it,” he laughs. “There are so many ways to make music.”
The music from season 2 of Euphoria is now available.
EUPHORIA SEASON 2 (OFFICIAL HBO ORIGINAL SERIES SCORE) album artwork:
Labrinth on Creating Euphoria’s Musical Landscape, Collaborating With Zendaya: “It Was Supernatural”
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