Are you watching IFC’s subversive and darkly funny comedy Gigi Does It? David Krumholtz stars as the highly opinionated and politically incorrect Gigi. With her husband gone and access to an unexpected inheritance, Gigi and her companion Ricky embark upon a number of new adventures. Does she stir up drama and get into trouble along the way? What kind of show would this be if she didn’t?
I had the chance to talk to music supervisor Jason Moss earlier this week. We had such a fun and honest talk about the business of television, what being a music supervisor entails, his favorite musical moments from Gigi Does It and more.
TV GOODNESS: Your music for Gigi Does It is unexpected, but in the best way. What made you decide to go that route with the sound of the show?
Jason Moss: “We were thinking about what to do [during] a couple of meetings I had. At first, I was thinking to myself, ‘Maybe we’re gonna go totally the opposite of Gigi, like hip hop or mega 80’s retro.’ I ended up having my first meeting with the star of the show, David Krumholtz, the showrunner Tim Gibbons and the executive producers Ben and Dan Newmark, who own the production company.
We’re talking and bonding on the jewish, east cost thing. I also have two 94 year-old grandmas alive, so I’m very in tune with the whole neuroses lifestyle. David lives in New Jersey, I’m from New Jersey originally. It’s like a shalom party. I thought, ‘This is cool, this is great. Would you like to hear some music?’ I feel like I have the gig, but maybe my music sucks. [Laughs.] They’re like, ‘Oh yeah, let’s hear some music.’
I whip out my jambox, my laptop, and I’d put together a playlist the night before. I knew hip hop, I knew some jazzy stuff would work ‘cause I saw the 15 minute pilot they did. I threw some hip hop out, like ‘Oh, yeah. It’s cool,’ and I’m throwing down trippy jazz, quirky jazz. And then I thought to myself, obviously, about Gigi and I thought there’s a track that I have in my catalog that I played for them and they just went bonkers. They’re like, ‘Holy shit. That’s the theme. That’s amazing,’ and it was this Herb Alpert, quirky, lounge-y jazz thing.
I ended up licensing it as the theme. I had the session, opened it up, we mixed it, tweaked it, did a boatload of edits. To me, that was the blueprint for Gigi and it just worked. David really likes Louis Prima. He likes a lot of that big band jazzy stuff and a lot of that really worked, like samba driven that’s in Boca, a little of a Latin thing but not overtly Cuban. So, there’s some traditional jazzy, quirky stuff in there but most of the stuff I curated or wrote or that came from my catalog was in that, like, let’s go super-cheesy [style]. Let’s go uber elevator and try and not make it serious elevator, not taking itself too seriously.”
TV GOODNESS: That’s what I love about it. It’s unexpected, but it completely makes sense.
Moss: “Thank you, yeah. There was also stuff that was contemporary, a little beat-driven but still quirky and kitschy, that I wrote. I was hired as the music supervisor. I was hired to bring on my catalog, which is Super Sonic Noise. It’s pretty much a music catalog, but hopefully better than what we’ll call the big box stores. It’s just a boutique. I wrote and I had a couple of my composers that I’ll bring on per gig. I’m like, ‘Hey! You wanna write some cheesy lounge?’ And everybody’s like, ‘Hell, yeah.’”
TV GOODNESS: I know you’re essentially a one-man band for this show. What does the title “music supervisor” entail? It seems like a pretty big job.
Moss: “It was a half hour show and a scripted show, which [isn’t] your typical hour-long reality show. In hour-long reality shows they’re gonna use 100 to 120 cues, they just blanket it. [For this], the intention with everybody was to make it like the shows we grew up on. To have that theme and have those ins and outs, those bumps like a typical half hour: The Jeffersons, King of Queens and all these great shows. So, it’s not wall-to-wall music.
I’m credited as a music supervisor, music by, the underscore and then I’m credited for the theme, which really sets the tone in Gigi. I love that track. I was ready to write five different things, see where it goes. But that track really was just perfect. It was sitting in my catalog, just waiting for Gigi.
The fact that it was only a half hour, there wasn’t a ton of different tracks being pulled overall. I also worked with wonderful people. Everything went really smooth and really well. It wasn’t what I’d consider stressful or difficult in that way and it beats flipping burgers and serving french fries, right?”
TV GOODNESS: You’re doing something you’re passionate about, which is always good.
Moss: “Yeah. I’m thrilled about that. I don’t really have many other skills outside of this, so…” [Laughs.]
TV GOODNESS: You mentioned that you invited some of your friends to compose to add to the soundtrack. What did you look for when you were thinking about people to hire for this show?
Moss: “I have a group of guys, like everybody does in LA, that are composers like myself, but mostly guys I can count on to get the work done fast, with high production value and are easy to work with. It’s funny. Dealing with the music supervisor thing. I spot the episode, I make notes on what music I think would work, I literally put in these tracks, I’ll cut music in, I put it up to picture, see how I like it, I’ll give the editors a few options, hopefully they listen to me. [Laughs.] I would’ve, obviously, loved to have scored the show, but the theme in many ways took care of a lot of the ins and outs. If there was any need to score a specific scene, obviously that would be handled, but [my] catalog and the catalogs I represent handled that.
I’m a guitar-centric player and composer. One of my buddies who writes for me is a keyboard-centric jazz guy, so it helps to have guys approach things musically different than yourself. I learned my musical education from CBGBs and I’m in Los Angeles, where the talent is insane and many folks come from the big composing schools. I can flip a rock over and find uber talent. You might not find mega drive or people knowing how to put a sentence together, but I have so many friends that are really wonderful composers.
In all honesty, I really go by the rules, ‘Always hire better people than yourself.’ You know what they say: If you play tennis with a better tennis player, you become a better tennis player. So that’s why I brought on a few guys, it was also more effective time-wise. I’m coming and going into Hollywood a couple of days, doing 3 or 4 or 5 different cuts of [the show], in some cases up to 7 depending on the struggles with that episode to get it great, so I just figured, ‘Hey. Let me see if some of my buddies are down to write some quirky music,’ just a few tracks here and there and what we ended up doing is- the budget’s tight. It’s a half hour show, so I had them do it, took care of it out of my own pocket and put that music back in the catalog to redistribute for the show. That way the show gets what it needs, gets the sound. It’s the most efficient way of doing things. The way budgets are these days, you go with the flow.”
TV GOODNESS: It sounds like the theme is your favorite cue or piece of music. Are there any other cues or musical moments that you really loved?
Moss: “I would definitely say the theme. The show does its thing, right? And then at the end of the show where the credits are rolling, they do this sort of wrap up. They’re not wrapping up the show. It’s the end of the show, something’s funny. It could be a minute or a minute and a half long during the credits. A couple of those, like in the first episode where Ricky, the supporting actor character, is trying to hide the gun that [Gigi] bought. I love quirky, beat-driven tracks and I tried to find something a little more contemporary, [but] not for every episode. I love those little wrap up moments. Those are so cool and they’re funny and I like the music choices.
What else? There’s some funny scenes. Some of them might not even be my music, it might be something out of my catalog that my editors pulled. If it’s funny, it’s funny. As long as it serves the show at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. But, the theme, to me, is special. I enjoyed it.”
TV GOODNESS: My final question isn’t about the show. I always like to ask about dream projects.
Moss: “My dream project. I’d love to do more scripted television, so I’m really hustling – and Gigi is a great start to that. I want to do more television. I love science fiction, I love action, I love comedy and I like quirk and I like outrageous. I’m a composer who would prefer to take the ukulele and melodica to write a score. I’m not your orchestral, 90 piece orchestra guy, we’re all capable of doing that these days to a degree, but give me an acoustic guitar and I’ll write something that will break your heart or uplift your soul.
I would just love to do quality programming, but who doesn’t? I’d love to do more indie film, scripted TV and continue to build a career. I love documentary work. I’d love to do documentaries. I’ve worked with Ricki Lake on her documentary, The Business of Being Born. There’s not many things that musicians and artists can give back and make a difference. We’re a bunch of selfish, neurotic, dysfunctional folks, I say that in a loving way! For me, if I can be involved with projects that make a difference or have a social message, whether I’m getting paid $1.50 or a million dollars, I don’t give a shit. I just want to be associated with projects that maybe could move things in a positive direction.”
Edited for space and content.
“Wart-a-colors” synopsis, from IFC:
Wanting to overcome her lifelong body image issues, Gigi attends a local art class to pose nude for a portrait. Lesley Ann Warren guest stars.
Gigi Does It airs Thursdays at 10:30/9:30c on IFC.