Picking up after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the Disney+ series Loki follows the god of mischief in an alternate timeline where he is brought in by the Time Variance Authority (TVA) to help fix the timeline. Or face being wiped from existence.
Fast-paced, stylish, and featuring a deliciously fun performance from Tom Hiddleston. And a wildly inventive, surprising score from composer Natalie Holt, cementing her place as one of the most interesting music masters in the business.
Here, Holt joins Awards Daily to answer some burning questions about her Emmy-nominated work in Loki.
Awards Daily: Natalie, you’ve composed music for several massive franchises with big fanbases in a male-dominated field. How are you navigating the high stakes and pressure that comes with beloved properties?
Natalie Holt: Well, Loki was written, recorded, and mixed during lockdown, so that just felt like I was in my own bubble just having a dialogue with [director] Kate Herron. I think I had to try not to think about the high stakes and pressure too much, or it would feel a bit stifling! Obi-Wan was written with John Williams, and I had to come to L.A. to record, so a total contrast to Loki and it was so fantastic to be in person and be with the musicians again.
AD: And how does it feel to have your score resonate the way that it did with fans and critics? It was consistently mentioned as a high point of the series, culminating in your Emmy nominations.
NH: Honestly, I just feel I got so lucky with Loki. It felt like every department just put everything they had into it. It felt like a dream team in terms of how everyone meshed together and communicated. To come away from a project feeling creatively satisfied and then to have my work recognized— it really just feels like the cherry on the cake.
AD: You had the theme for Loki written going into your first meeting with Kate Herron. Tell me about that. What was it about this project that allowed you to write so freely?
NH: I read the script before the meeting with Kate Herron, and because I already had such a strong mental picture from the script and Tom Hiddleston’s performances in other Marvel properties, I felt like I already had a strong sense of what his theme should be and how the music should go, luckily my ideas and sounds resonated with Kate’s ideas too!
AD: What aspects of Loki resonated with you the most, and how does the score reflect that?
NH: Loki is a charming rogue, he does these extremely terrible things, but somehow you are still captivated and even rooting for him. I think it’s got something to do with the alchemy of the writing and Tom’s performance which has a Shakespearian quality to it. I suppose I wanted to reflect this in the score— the drama, the flair, and the impishness!
AD: What’s your work process like? How was Loki similar or different from how you usually write music?
NH: Marvel has a specific way of working with the composer where they kick off by writing a suite of ideas and themes to showcase the mood for the score before starting to write to a picture. So this was the first time I had done a formal presentation like this, and it was really great to galvanize my themes and ideas for the show. I will always do this moving forward. They also had a really nice weekly post-production catch-up, which was great for ensuring everyone was in the loop with it all.
AD: What’s your favorite piece of music from Loki; or the track that you think best encompasses your work on the series?
NH: That’s hard. There are lots of things in the show I really enjoyed writing, but probably the main titles are pretty special to me. I came up with [the one] for Kang as I was walking down the street and sang it into my phone and used it as the TVA theme in the suite. The show wasn’t going to have opening titles, but Kate and [executive producer] Kevin Wright heard this and decided they would try some graphics with it, which turned into the title sequence, so I’m pretty stoked that the music inspired it!
AD: What are some repeated elements and motifs in your score, and what do you think that tells us about Loki as a character?
NH: I think the ticking clocks through the tape machine, the theremin, and synths all represent the texture of the TVA and the aesthetic and look of the show. The flair and flourish of the classical orchestration represent Loki’s theatrical quality, and the Norwegian folk instruments represent Loki’s past and family connections.
AD: Looking back on season one, what are you proudest of?
NH: I think I’m most proud of the lasting friendship with the whole team. It feels like a testament to Zoom, honestly that I worked for the first time with many of these people across continents, never in person. When I met Kate Herron for the first time after the project was over, it felt like meeting up with an old friend!
AD: What can you tell us about your work on Loki season 2?
NH: Nothing! It’s a top secret. I can tell you Tom is definitely in it, and he told me he would be outraged if they try and change the music too much from season 1!
AD: Lastly: If you could pick one other MCU film or character to write music for, what would you pick and why?
NH: I would love to write more for Kang (Jonathan Majors). I just loved his performance in episode 6 and watched through the dailies. I loved his characterization of this monumental figure in the MCU. it feels like there are a lot of interesting adventures to be had now that this figure is in place!
Natalie Holt is Emmy nominated in the Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music and Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) categories. Loki is streaming on Disney+.