The Bold Type Music Supervisor Rob Lowry On Its Stellar Soundtrack

Lowry-Rob
Courtesy of Rob Lowry

Music plays an enormous part in the setting and tone of a series. It determines the mood and the overall feel of the show. On the freshman summer hit, The Bold Type the music is current, powerful, meaningful, and predominantly by female vocalists, almost identically mirroring the overall theme of the Freeform series.

The progressive as hell series has received high praise over the last few weeks (especially from us!) and it’s definitely been for a good reason. The series, so far, in its first three episodes has touched on sexuality, online harassment, balancing workplace relationships, fighting for dream jobs, and showed positive portrayals of girls who stick together. The show is stellar and a true delight each and every week. The music largely contributes to its “take charge” outlook. The man responsible for this is the Freeform series’ music supervisor, Rob Lowry. The TV Junkies caught up with Lowry and asked him all about his process, what would be on the girls’ playlists, and how he got involved with the show in the first place.

 

The TV Junkies: Did you always want to work in music supervision? How did you find yourself working with a Freeform series in their music department?

Rob Lowry: I wanted to work in music and film in some capacity for as long as I can remember. I grew up with a passion for both. Almost Famous was the first film that I saw where I think I really recognized and identified that there was this small magical world where these two things that I loved overlapped. I was in 8th grade at the time, and from there, my curiosity and love for it just kind of took off. I started taking film classes, making a lot of movies, and there was a pattern in everything I was creating: I was making a lot of silent films and music videos –- films that had a narrative but were essentially just a vessel to showcase music, and really having that music tell the story. So using music, using songs, kind of became my way of developing a narrative.

My involvement with The Bold Type is an interesting story. My second job in Los Angeles, after attending college in Pennsylvania, was as a PA in the writer’s office on Parenthood and Friday Night Lights. This was 2009. I was young and ambitious and really just trying to navigate this world, trying to figure out how to become a music supervisor. I used to make mixes and just give them to all the writers and editors to listen to. I would read their scripts, make mix CDs based on them, and just hand them out. In hindsight, I don’t know where I found that courage. But, one of those writers was Sarah Watson. We were working in a very comfortable, casual environment. We were all friends. Fast forward 7 years and The Bold Type was going into production, and my agent emailed me the script. And I was like, “Wow. I know Sarah.” I emailed her, and she said, “You’d be perfect for this.” I asked her, “What were you listening to when you wrote this?” And she said “Demi Lovato.” And I said, “Perfect. This is going to work out great.”

Freeform
Freeform

TTVJ: That “I mean, I could, but why would I want to” line placement was so great in “O Hell No.” Did that kind of just work out perfectly when looking for music for the episode or did you play around with other songs for that scene first? 

RL: This is one of those instances where you read a scene or watch it and the moment you do, you just know what the song is going to be. We were sitting in our editor Katy’s [Skjerping] office, she was playing the montage, and there was a song that they had temped in there that wasn’t really working. Sarah came in, and I said, I know what’s going to go here. I asked the editor to cut in “Hands to Myself.” Sarah was very skeptical at first — sometimes, when a song is so popular, it’s difficult to use it in a scene because people have heard it so often that they come into it with an already-developed idea of what this song means to them, right? So you hear a song, and you bring your own experiences with it, and it takes away from you connecting with the scene and the unique moment.

But sometimes, it just works so well, that it takes on a new meaning in a new context. We put the song in, watched it, and all immediately were like, “Wow. Yeah. This is the song.” That montage did so many things, and the song had enough movement and parts to it that it was really able to carry us through. Obviously, the majority of it is Jane’s (Katie Stevens) perspective — her becoming empowered, allowing herself to let go of these inhibitions and take control — and she does that in two very big ways: both by kissing Pinstripe and also writing the article, and then, of course, the top off is her owning it and putting her name on the article.

TTVJ: Can you walk us through your process for selecting the music for an episode of The Bold Type?

RL: The process is different for every episode. At the beginning of the season, I put together a lot of folders of music and divide them up by different themes and moods we were focusing on throughout the season — songs that were anthemic/empowering, songs about falling in love and breaking up, dealing with identity issues, etc. And, of course, we’ve really focused on songs that have women vocalists. It’s not meant to be a gimmick. It serves the story best. It empowers our characters. It validates their perspectives. I don’t want to have a male singing a song while Kat (Aisha Dee) is coming to terms with her sexuality and accepting and embracing this idea that she is attracted to a woman.

TTVJ: Are there any scenes, in particular, that stand out to you that were your favorite to select music for this season?

RL: That’s a good and tough question. The finale is powerful. There’s a scene in the finale, where it was another one of those instances where, the second I read it, I just knew. I emailed Sarah right away with the song. The finale is an incredible story, and the song has a really powerful story behind it. It’s all coming together right now, but if it sticks I think it’s going to be pretty special.

TTVJ: Who are some of your favorite go-to artists for the series? Any that you tend to use more often than others?

RL: I think there are only a couple of artists that we have used more than once. There are so many incredible musicians out there — both up-and-coming as well as established — that it’s nice to be able to pull from different areas and showcase different artists. There is certainly a signature sound to the show that we’ve been developing, but within that world, there’s a lot of variation that we’ve been able to have a lot of fun with. I think it’s a really nice mix of some artists people have maybe heard before, to new artists that fans are excited to discover and dig into.

TTVJ:What are three songs that would be on Kat, Sutton, and Jane’s individual playlists? 

RL: This is a funny question because I just put together a Spotify playlist with Aisha, Katie, and Meghann based on some of their more recent favorite songs. Rather than tell you which we chose for each their characters, [you can] check out the playlist we all made together and guess.

 

What’s been your favorite song featured on The Bold Type? Are you loving the Freeform series? Let us know in the comments!

The Bold Type airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Freeform and ABC Spark.