Interview with Jeff Russo

Jeff Russo

 Jeff RussoFargo and The Surface

FSC:  What inspired you to compose film music?

JR:  I was asked to play guitar on a film score and that experience really got me interested in doing that. I really enjoyed coming up with music to support the narrative.

FSC:  Congratulations on your Emmy nomination!  What has that experience been like for you?

JR:  Thanks so much. It’s been quite surreal. It’s so thrilling to have your peers say “hey, we think this is really good work.”
FSC:  When you were composing the first notes for Fargo, what were you trying to capture?
JR:  In the initial conversation that I had with Noah (Showrunner), he had mentioned wanting the score to sound cold and lonesome. So, that was the feeling that I was really trying to capture.
FSC:  What are the main differences in composing for television versus a feature film?
JR:  Schedule. That’s really the biggest difference. You have way less time to write and record and mix in TV. Your first idea is usually your only idea.
FSC:  People have commented on your musical versatility.  How hard do you try for that, if at all?
JR:  I don’t think you can try for versatility. I just try to write what is appropriate for the picture.
FSC:  What did your experience with Tonic do to help prepare you for your composing career?
JR:  I think the process of songwriting and collaboration really helped me in this part of my career. I look at narrative the way I look at a song. The dialogue is like the lyric,  and I just have to let it say what it wants and support that.
FSC:  How do you feel about your work on The Surface at this point?
JR:  This was a really great project. I had so much fun writing it. I was able to just take my guitar out and play while watching the picture, and come up with parts while experiencing the movie.
FSC:  What is your favorite score from another composer?
JR:  Brokeback Mountain. Fantastic score for guitar!

FSC:  What is your most memorable moment with an orchestra so far?

JR:  The first time the orchestra played the main theme I wrote for “Fargo” was such a memorable moment. Hearing the melody played by the violin really made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
For more, check out Jeff’s website at

Jeff Russo