HBO’s Euphoria, the Drake-produced drama starring Zendaya as a high school junior named Rue, is a dark and gritty look at what it’s like to be adolescent American in 2019. While the show was loved by critics and viewers for myriad reasons, undoubtedly one of the best things about Euphoria Season 1 was the soundtrack. Jen Malone served as Euphoria‘s music supervisor, while Labrinth wrote the score.
For Euphoria, Labrinth worked with creator Sam Levinson to produce the at times haunting, at times fun, at times pure psychotic music for the series. Labrinth released the score to HBO’s Euphoria on October 4 of this year.
Sam Levinson hired Labrinth to create the ‘Euphoria’ score
Labrinth’s music caught the eye–well, ear–of Euphoria’s showrunner Sam Levinson, and the rest was history.
The singer-songwriter told the Rolling Stone in an interview earlier this month that Levinson could “instantly see [my] music being part of his project.” Labrinth said he didn’t care how big the project was, he just wanted to be involved.
“His passion was so insane,” he said of Levinson.
The series’ creator apparently requested Labrinth write a score with both “hip-hop influence” and “gospel-orchestral influence,” which fit nicely into Labrinth’s existing musical style.
“A lot of what was happening on the score was kind of naturally what I do,” he explained.
Labrinth used the show’s characters for inspiration
Levison showed Labrinth the first episode of Euphoria to help the musician get a sense of tone.
“From there,” the British artist told Rolling Stone, “I was inspired by the different dynamics of characters.” He used Nate as an example.
“Like Nate, who’s kind of … he’s an *ssh*le!” says the artist. “But in a beautiful way because he contrasts with this mystical, almost fairy-like character Jules.” In the end it was all about the relationships–especially the friendship between Rue and Jules.
“For me, seeing how all of these relationships crossed each other inspired loads of ideas,” he said. He pulled feelings from his own teen memories, too.
“I was kind of trying to figure myself out,” he says of the awkward era of adolescence. “I was, you know, insecure and scared, as a lot of these characters [are].”
The inspiration was palpable, so much so that Labrinth did more for Euphoria than necessary.
“I was sending [Levison] tracks every five minutes,” joked Labrinth.” He was like, ‘Lab, I think I’ve got enough!'”
Zendaya loved his music too
While the Zendaya and Labrinth didn’t meet until the Euphoria premiere, Labrinth said in his Rolling Stone interview that “it kind of felt like we both musically knew each other from afar.” The former Disney star sent Labrinth words of encouragement as he wrote the score.
“I love what you’re doing,” she wrote to the musician.
“That’s how our music or collaborative relationship started growing,” said Labrinth. It’s also “how ‘All for Us‘ evolved.”
‘Euphoria’ was a huge challenge for Labrinth
“Euphoria was like a beautiful master class and crash course in figuring out things that I didn’t have an idea how to do,” Labrinth said.
Labrinth explained that the show’s “temp score was pretty … mind-blowing. So it was like, ‘I have to match this, or beat it.’ That was very intense.”
The Euphoria work load was hardcore, but it proved to the singer what he was capable of.
“Sometimes I had to do 25 pieces … in a week,” he said. “I didn’t know I could do that.”
Labrinth explained the creative motivation behind his Season 1 songs
Labrinth went on to describe the overall feel he was going for in Euphoria‘s music, a show in which the lighting, cinematography, acting, makeup, and score all come together in a way that is completely hypnotizing.
“I want it to feel almost mystical ’cause it does feel like that when you’re a teenager,” he explained. “Your whole existence is invested into this bubble that you’re in, and the bubble is so important.”
The juxtaposition of all of those hormone-induced feelings needed to be present.
“When you look back to your teenage days, it feels semi-magical but semi-crazy and semi-psychotic,” he remembered. “I wanted to make sure the music felt like those things.”
Well, mission accomplished, Lab.