Jeff Russo On Scoring the Epic ‘Fargo’ Season Two

Jeff Russo’s Fargo Season 2 score is as musically diverse as the composer himself and Emmy took notice

Talking to composer/songwriter/guitarist/vocalist/producer Jeff Russo is akin to attending a master class in music theory. On the surface, Russo’s rock roots in the mid-90s band Tonic seem ill-matched with his recent blossoming success as a prolific composer for television scores. Yet, after talking it through with him, it all makes complete sense. The progression of Russo’s career flows gracefully from one genre to the next. From Tonic to the New York Ballet to FX’s Fargo. This progression appears fueled by Russo’s infectious love of music and a series of fortuitous connections.

“A lot of things just sort of fell into place which is I think the way it always happens for people,” Russo said. “I knew I always wanted to write and perform music… Getting into television was just one of those things where I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

An Emmy nod for an epic score

And the right time is now thanks to Russo’s recent Emmy nomination for scoring Fargo Season 2. After receiving a nomination for the first season, Russo took on the challenge of scoring the increasingly epic, bigger, badder second season with characteristic grace and intelligence. His robust score matches the broader visual palate of the second season, which subverts the claustrophobic intimacy of the first season.

“We really did want to nod to how the show was expanding in terms of the broadness of the characters. Season 1 had fewer characters and fewer moving parts. With Season 2, the themes and the music became broader in that it need to cover a lot more ground to cover for the characters that were being introduced,” Russo said. “I wanted to make a conscious effort to broaden the scope of the music and go with the more epic feel of the story being told on a more grand scale versus the smaller scale of season 1.”

What’s next for the Emmy nominee?

As great television exponentially grows across platforms, so do the classic scores that accompany them. Even if Emmy goes in a different direction, Russo’s upcoming slate of work will undoubtedly continue to provide awards bounty. He’s currently scoring CBS’s American Gothic and provided the intimate score for HBO’s The Night Of. Next up is Fargo Season 3, FX’s Legion, and ABC’s buzzy fall series Time After Time. It’s a body of work that ranks Jeff Russo among the great composers of television and film.

Be sure to catch AwardsDaily TV’s full interview with Fargo composer Jeff Russo below or by subscribing to the Water Cooler Podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.


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