Make no mistake, music can totally change the game when it comes to a television series. When done right, a great score can heighten the drama, amp up the action and flood viewers with a rush of emotion towards the story being told on screen. From the very beginning, Killjoys has been one of the best shows on TV when it comes to using music to its benefit. Not only does music supervisor Andrea Higgins, along with music editor Kyle Merkley, routinely pick songs that perfectly match the feelings and moods of the characters, but composers Jim McGrath and Tim Welch create an original music score that enhances the Killjoys viewing experience.
“Our role on the show as original music composers is to support the drama, action, suspense and emotional twists, etc. with unique original music that is exclusive to the series,” Welch recently told The TV Junkies. Along with Higgins, who as music supervisor sources hit songs as well as new talent to set the mood of any scene, the trio give Killjoys a soundtrack that is one of the best and most fun on TV today.
Both Welch and McGrath came to Killjoys during Season 1, but Welch credits Orphan Black’s Trevor Yuile with first “establishing the sound of the show” way back in the early days of Season 1. McGrath said Welch was actually the one who brought him to the show to “help shoulder the enormous workload of having to compose, produce and deliver almost 40 minutes per episode of very detailed, complex score.” McGrath also jokes that he remains amazed Welch did everything on his own during that first season and that “apparently not a lot of sleep was had.”
Higgins was brought on at Killjoys by executive producer Karen Troubetzkoy, with whom she previously worked with on The Listener. After meeting with Troubetzkoy and series creator Michelle Lovretta, Higgins said the vision for the show was clear. She recalled that Lovretta “wanted to make a fun kickass show driven by songs, and I was, and am still, over the moon that they chose me to execute that vision via song selection.” In that role as music supervisor, Higgins’ duties include “overall music direction, creative song search, budget management, negotiating licenses, generating licenses, music editing, protools delivery to mix, and cue sheets.”
In more ways than one Killjoys is unlike many other shows on television. For one thing, it’s about a trio of bounty hunters in space. “The futuristic setting allows us to throw out the rules of conventional score instrumentation and create many of our own unique sounds or instruments,” Welch said. He went on to add that “Jim and I also sometimes blur the line between music and sound design, working music into sound effects, and turning sound effects into music.”
Higgins expounds on that by adding that “the mantra has always been “Not too earth.” We wanted this series to have an eclectic soundtrack and each world/planet/setting to have its own unique sound.” That means that different settings and different locations within the Quad call for different types of musical sounds. “Westerly has a grittier sound, The Royale had a more downtempo, trippy sound in Seasons 1 and 2, but this year it was slightly more outlaw. The Hacker Mods are super futuristic and they needed their own sound. We played underground slick, edgy electro with robotic like vocals,” explained Higgins.
Not only does the music and score change depending on the location the scenes on the series are set, but each character has their own special kind of music as well. Higgins described Aneela’s songs as “dreamy and twisted,” while John’s (Aaron Ashmore) is always more upbeat. “I especially loved the Kid Koala song we used against his space strut in Episode 302,” she noted.
Season 3 has had some standout music moments, including in last week’s episode where Pree sang and viewers got to see Thom Allison once again show off his voice. “That is a song called “Wayfaring Stranger,” which is a public domain American folk song from the early 19th century. Everyone from Johnny Cash to Ed Sheeran has done a cover of it. Andrea supervised the selection of that song and the pre-recording of Thom’s vocal,” McGrath explained. Higgins credits the episode’s director, Peter Stebbings, with the song idea and agrees that it’s “fun to give Thom specific direction, but also to let him do his own thing. He’s a really amazing singer.”
While it was a highlight for all Killjoys fans, Welch said he has a hard time picking his favorite moment from this year. “That’s similar to picking out your favorite child,” he joked. “I’m just really proud to be working on Killjoys along with some superbly talented, joy to be around, people who really love their jobs. We really have a good time “working,”” he said. Higgins had a bit of an easier time selecting her favorite moment this year. “Viktoria Modesta’s performance was one of my favorites this season, so I’m happy we were able to license her song “Prototype,” which was so fitting for her character and her Hacker Mods,” she said before adding that “working in the recording studio with Thom was a highlight,” as well as “all the Aneela songs.”
With the Killjoys Season 3 finale coming up Friday at 8 p.m. ET on Syfy and Space, viewers should once again ready themselves for viewing experience accompanied by a stellar soundtrack and score. In “Wargasm,” the Killjoy militia has gathered everything they need and are ready to go to war with Aneela (Hannah John-Kamen) and her Hullen using Delle Seyah (Mayko Nguyen) as bait. But as the battle begins, Aneela changes the entire game. McGrath added that “working on Episode 310 was a blast.” He called the finale “so over-the-top epic and cinematic,” before saying that “it’s not often you get to write for end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it space battles. It was a tremendous amount of fun.”
Are you a fan of the music on Killjoys? Sound off in the comments below!
Killjoys‘ Season 3 finale episode airs Friday, September 1 at 8 p.m. ET on Syfy and Space.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.