ASCAP award winning and World Soundtrack award nominated composer/songwriter Lior Rosner is having his best year to date as Emmy season arrives. In addition to scoring the final season of NBC’s Emmy winning Will & Grace, he’s collaborated with Emmy winner RuPaul on original songs for the original Netflix series, AJ & The Queen. Rosner also scored the drag-themed series created by RuPaul and Sex and The City creator/showrunner Michael Patrick King.
Awards Focus delved into Rosner’s history with RuPaul, building the sound and themes for series, and recording the finale in Los Angeles.
Awards Focus: Can you talk about your experience on the show and those early conversations?
Lior Rosner: My first assignment wasn’t related to the score. I got a call from RuPaul asking me to collaborate with him on a song he needed for Ruby Red, his drag character who is performing in a New York club the first time that we see her onscreen. The song came very quickly and then a couple of months passed, and then showrunner Michael Patrick King (MPK) asked me to start working on themes and cues. He wanted them available very early for the editors to use as they work on the episodes.
I’m grateful that RuPaul and I have a strong working relationship, I’ve appeared on Drag Race and worked with the contestants on songs in addition to my work on RuPaul’s albums.
AF: Can you talk about any of the other songs you worked on?
Rosner: The song, “Walk It Off,” was more of a slow development as I worked on the music for the first three episodes. MPK needed a song that was uplifting and almost inspiration throughout the episodes. It actually came out of an instrumental that just had some chants of “Walk It Off” and later was developed to a full song with RuPaul.
AF: In terms of scoring the series, were you writing music at the script stage, do you like to work episode to episode? Talk about your process.
Rosner: MPK had asked me to read all the scripts prior to scoring because he wanted me to get the overall arc of the story. I wrote all the principle themes based on the script and it worked well when they filming the series. Music is very important to MPK and he is very specific about what he wants musically.
AF: How did your creative vision align with MPK? Had he seen your prior work in film and TV?
Rosner: I was hired based on a reel I sent MPK. He actually took some of the music from the reel and used it as a temp score for the opening scene and it worked for him. From that moment, we had an idea of what direction we were going in for the series.
AF: What particular episode or scene did you find the most challenging and ultimately rewarding this season?
Rosner: There is a very complicated scene in the finale that required a lot of planing in order to bring it home musically… there’s a child finally being reunited with her mother after a difficult journey. The approach was very cinematic and it was one of the few places I had an opportunity to create a large cinematic sound, whereas all of the cues in the show were more intimate and required a more gentle, understated approach.
AF: Did you get to record with an orchestra this season?
Rosner: Yes, we did with the finale episode, “Dallas,” and that was then most rewarding experience for a composer. We recorded in Los Angeles, and I always love recording here. The emotional climax of the series was a joy to bring to life with some of the best musicians in the world.