An interview with Dexter composer Daniel Licht

Read on, a new inteview of the Dexter composer, Daniel Licht.

Do you find it challenging to broaden the sound palette of DEXTER season-to-season, with the show being locked into one locale?
There’s always something going on where I can branch the music out – new characters, situations. There’s lots of new stuff in this season. I don’t really have any trouble with that. There are DEXTER themes that come back, and I sometimes try to retool them a bit while staying true to their original nature. There are always going to be new textures.

What exactly is the root of why this show has kept your interest for five seasons running?
Well, it’s well-written, well-acted, well-shot, and well-edited. It’s nice to work on a project, where as a composer, you’re not trying to cover up anything or make things work better; your main job is just to bring something new to the table. I’m not fixing the table; I’m bringing something to it.
Since you’ve done the lion’s share of the music for the show, how did it fall to Rolfe Kent to do the theme song?
Well, they had actually hired Rolfe before I was even on the job. I was glad to see him get the work; he’s actually a friend of mine. But I would have loved the chance to take a crack at the main title, but it was already in motion by the time I was brought on board.
Well, whether you are consciously aware of it or not, the “Blood Theme” has already become your “Jaws.”
Yes it has; it’s true. It’s become my signature, which is interesting, because it was the end credits theme, and they are always talking over the ending. But it does get used a lot in other places in the show. I think when people get the DVD, they can hear it as the end theme.
How did “Blood Theme” become so prominent in the show in the first place?
It was actually written for a scene, and when the showrunner heard it, he thought it would be perfect for the end credits. And from there, it branched into other functions in the show.
How much of the music writing for DEXTER is collaborative? I had spoken with David Russo a few weeks ago, and he mentioned that you actually phoned him to write some scenes for him.
During the first season, there was a lot to do. For this season, all the primary themes are already established. But for that first season, God, I was running ragged just trying to keep up, because I was basically creating the entire sound world for DEXTER.
Who determines how much music is used in an episode, because I’ve seen a few episodes where they were wall-to-wall music? That has to keep you from sleeping sometimes.
Well, the editors cut in music as they go. So a lot of that is predetermined, but we sit down and go through the episodes, and I give my opinions on where I think the music should go. Sometimes they agree with me, and sometimes they don’t. But with Season Four, there was a lot of music. It was just the type of storytelling style they were going for with that season. Season Five is turning out to be much sparer.
The character of Dexter Morgan makes no bones about his monstrous urges and doesn’t really feel too sorry for the way he is. Do you find yourself developing him musically as a tragic character?
It’s interesting, because if you really look at Dexter, he’s always saying, “I don’t feel emotion.” But he’s always having emotional responses. It’s a bit of the ruse of the show; I think Dexter represents a lot of people’s inner urges - everybody has a bit of a monster hidden within themselves. People can relate to him, like in times when they yell at their spouse – that’s the monster coming out.
I think it’s almost cute, though, that when he realizes that he DOES have an emotional response to something, the music reflects it as some kind of discovery.
Yeah, it’s true. I have been writing some big emotional cues for him. With regards to his relationships with his friends and family, I think Dexter always appreciates them, because he doesn’t feel he is worth their efforts. So I think he’s content and appreciative that they do regard him.

Full Interview here.

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