Kurt Farquhar is one of the most prolific composers in television—with good reason. He has an incredible range, which he demonstrated recently on Netflix’s horror-romance series First Kill. Though the show only lasted one season, Kurt’s score created the kind of otherworldly ambiance that audiences expect from a genre program with his trademark character-building notes.
Netflix recently released First Kill: Soundtrack from the Netflix Series digitally so that fans can enjoy the music on its own, but it’s a worthy listen even if you’ve never seen the show. The album demonstrates Kurt’s talent for building great suspense in subtle ways and proves that his sound is continuing to evolve even after decades in the music business. I recently caught up with him to discuss the record and his thoughts about diving into his first Netflix project.
Brittany Frederick: Fans hear a lot about how different it is to make a TV show for streaming as opposed to traditional broadcast or cable. Is that also true for composers?
Kurt Farquhar: There’s a lot further time out front. I knew about First Kill for over a year before it came out, and I had months and months and months to work on it. Whereas when I first found out about [CBS sitcom] The Neighborhood, I was working a week or two after and it was a short period of time between when we started and when it aired.
BF: But you’re one of several composers who have multiple irons in the fire. Where does something like First Kill that’s not on the traditional schedule fit in?
KF: It was 1991, I believe, the last time I did not have at least five shows on the air, and these days I have what seems like a huge amount of shows. But it’s a different time. In the days where it was all network—which is mostly where my career has been—most shows had 22 episodes. Some shows like King of Queens were 26, 28 episodes per season.
First Kill was eight episodes and that’s called a season. Eight episodes wouldn’t have gotten me through to the Thanksgiving break normally. So it takes three series to have the amount of [music] you would normally have for one. It seems like a lot, but it’s really not as much in terms of per episode.
BF: Were you able to read V.E. Schwab’s short story that the series was based on? Did that influence you at all like an actor might take something from the material for their character?
KF: I’m a big fan of reading whatever project it is that I do, because my brother Ralph Farquhar is a writer. I guess I got that from him. And I tend to want to be on the same journey that the showrunners have been on, all the way until we are in production with it. Ms. Schwab and Felicia Henderson, who was the showrunner for the actual series, you wanted to have a sense of where they both were coming from.
And it’s such a complex narrative. I remember reading a interview that Schwab did. She was speaking from the point of view of a lesbian human being and saying, I’m paraphrasing here, [that] her entire life is not wrapped up in the idea that she’s gay. But when you see a character on TV show or movie, 100 percent of their existence is about they’re gay. I found it very interesting that in this show they made a conscious decision [that it] wasn’t a coming out story.
Both of these girls, they’d already come out and their families had accepted them. They had no problem with the fact they were gay. They had no problem with the fact that it was an interracial relationship. They just had a problem that you’re messing with that vampire or you’re dating that hunter. I thought that was a really interesting way of looking at it. What will that allow us to do to more fully realize these characters? I thought that was important and defined how I went about a lot of things.
BF: Now that fans can hear the music on its own, separate from the visuals, are there particular cues that you’d want the audience to listen to? How do you characterize the sound of First Kill?
BF: Episode four was pretty exciting, when hunters broke into this big event that was happening at the house of the Fairmonts where all of the top vampires were together. It was an epic sort of sound, but very different as well. I also feel like the sounds in episodes seven and eight were very pivotal and interesting. I’ve always tried to say to anybody that would pay attention to me, that if you have not looked at those latter episodes, you have absolutely no idea about that show. That show, from episode four on, changed dramatically. Starting at episode four and going all the way through episode eight is pretty intense, and I’m deeply proud of the work for it.
It’s a very unique score. I’ve told everyone that this score is my Dark Side of the Moon. What I mean by that is it’s really something that’s different. I’ve pushed away from most things that I’ve ever done before. I’m just disappointed that I don’t get to go on to a next season, because we had such interesting ideas ready. And Felicia Henderson is just amazing, because many people ask for you to do something really different and most people don’t really mean it. I’m at a point in my career where it is so important to me to be able to do something that’s deeply, profoundly interesting and different and something that I can care about, and there’s a reason for me to get up and go into the studio that day. This show afforded me that opportunity to do something really special.
BF: You are, as we’ve discussed, a man of many projects. Are there new things or even past projects that you would want First Kill fans to listen out for?
KF: It’s not ready to be seen yet, but there is something coming up real soon that I’m working on and it’s at Netflix as well. This is a very, very interesting movie that’s coming up that I’m doing with a wonderful director, Lexi Alexander, so be looking for that one. That’s going to be so much fun. We’re in the very, very early stages, but that’s going to be something else.
But there’s all kinds of things out there that we’re doing. People can look at Sacrifice, which is coming into its second season on BET. Of course, The Proud Family and The Game. We’re working on the second season of The Game right now. It’s going to be really, really exciting. I really suggest anybody go look for that if they want to. And it’s always possible to dig up some episodes of Black Lightning.
First Kill: Soundtrack from the Netflix Series is now available on Apple Music and all other streaming platforms.
Article content is (c)2020-2023 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr and on Instagram at @BFTVGram.