‘Loki’: Composer Natalie Holt on Creating a Score Fit for a God
Go behind-the-scenes with the sounds of Season 2.
At long last, Loki finally has a throne. It just probably isn’t the throne he thought he’d be sitting on.
The second season of Marvel Studios’ Loki ends with Loki first breaking the Temporal Loom and setting all the timelines free, only to then immediately grab hold of them to keep them safe. He’s giving everyone a chance. It also, unfortunately, means that he’s got a big task on his hands keeping them like this.
Natalie Holt returns to compose the score for Season 2 of the series, and she knew all along Loki was destined for this greatness. While viewers are hearing a lot of the same tunes and melodies from Season 1, there’s a choir seemingly whispering in the music throughout — and they’re calling Loki to his glorious purpose.
With the final episode of Season 2 now streaming on Disney+, Marvel.com hopped on a video call with Holt to talk through all things Loki, and how she almost wrote a rock song for the finale.
MARVEL: It's been two years with the Loki music just in the zeitgeist. What has it been like watching people respond to the music over the last few years?
NATALIE HOLT: It's just mad. Something that came out of my head is now being played in sports stadiums. To work on a franchise with a character that's so beloved by so many people, it's been just something unbelievable and a moment in my career that I didn't ever expect that I would have the privilege to do.
MARVEL: We're hearing a lot of the same songs and melodies that we heard in Season 1. But how did you work to change the score for Season 2?
NATALIE HOLT: I think I darkened the score quite a lot. I had played around with a bit more atonality and was using a Geiger counter for the Loom disintegration. Adding to the ticking clocks was also this radiation. And then I was using voices a lot more in Season 2.
I found this poem — this old Edda, the Lokasenna — which is in very old Norse not spoken today. The closest language is Icelandic. I found this Icelandic specialist who helped us use the text in the choir and recorded with these singers in Iceland and then also a giant 40-piece choir in Vienna. I felt like these constant voices were whispering to Loki and calling him to his destiny, which we finally see in Episode 6. And it feels like this big symphonic choral work, which I'm just excited for people to hear.
MARVEL: Do you have a favorite piece or song from Season 2?
NATALIE HOLT: I think it's that ascension moment in Episode 6. It just felt like a culmination of two and a half years. It was a duet with a cello, and the theremin, and this explosion of voices. It's glorious purpose because it's what Loki's always wanted. But a tinge of sadness, because now he's removed from his life and his friends.
I feel like the music, I got to tell that story over the whole journey of working on these two seasons. The piece of music comes like the calm after the storm, when everyone's back in the TVA right at the very end.
Then we see Ravonna Renslayer in the Void with this strange purple thing happening above her. That piece felt very good to record as well. Just those two pieces together, I think those are my two favorite pieces.
MARVEL: I feel like there are a lot of moments of complete silence in Season 2. How did you work to balance that, going from these intense emotional moments right into a score?
NATALIE HOLT: The whole thing of this show is a very collaborative team of people. The three editors were all on Season 1, and these conversations that we're all having about the story and the emotions, even with Tom when I was on set, he was sharing with me this book of poetry that had inspired him for Season 2. He gave me this book, and he was telling me what he discovered in playing the role and wanted to share that with me to inform the music.
The editors have these ideas of what emotions they want in the scene and where they want silence. It feels like such a collaborative process. All the moments of score and silence are carved and created by everyone. Every Wednesday — I miss it, actually. For six months, we were meeting every Wednesday reviewing everything and watching it together. So, it just feels very crafted and thoughtful.
MARVEL: For Season 1, He Who Remains theme was hidden throughout the season as part of the TVA's overall theme. Were you doing any of that for Season 2- hiding music, hinting at what was going to happen?
NATALIE HOLT: Yeah, the Icelandic voices come together. They're calling him to his destiny. And then at the end of episode six, he's ascending to his throne. So, I was teasing that ascension all the way through, and teasing these whispering and voices for this big explosion of the crowning in episode six.
MARVEL: Was it like creating a score for a God?
NATALIE HOLT: It did feel quite something regal about it and something divine. I think we connect those choral works with a sort of religion. All those elements fed into that score, as well as the Icelandic Norse traditions that I've been trying to put those hardanger fiddle and nyckelharpa fiddles and give Loki a sense of heritage. So, it's all there.
MARVEL: I'd like to ask about my favorite music moment in Episode 6, which is going into the end credits. Suddenly there's a guitar riff we’ve never heard before, and it goes so hard. Can you talk about creating that Episode 6 moment?
NATALIE HOLT: I wanted to write a song [for Loki]. I'd been working in the studio with a songwriter, trying to come up with a song using the Loki theme. Kevin Feige just said, “I don't like having lyrics here. It feels too leading.”
But what is left is this sort of underneath of a song. It seemed to work better without lyric's help, because when you add lyrics into a song it does make it very specific. So yeah, it has the feel of a sort of rockier version of the theme though.
For all time, always! Loki Season 2 is now streaming on Disney+.
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