Meet Blindspot and The Red Line composer Sherri Chung

Sherri Chung composes music for Blindspot, Riverdale and The Red Line. Photo Credit: Angela Marklew
Sherri Chung composes music for Blindspot, Riverdale and The Red Line. Photo Credit: Angela Marklew /

Sherri Chung crafts music for NBC’s thriller Blindspot and CBS’ drama The Red Line. Learn how she makes the magic happen in Hidden Remote’s interview.

If you’ve been biting your nails watching NBC‘s Blindspot or CBSThe Red Line, it’s Sherri Chung who’s building the tension. Sherri composes the music for Blindspot, The Red Line and The CW‘s Riverdale in collaboration with Blake Neely.

Hidden Remote connected with Sherri to discuss just how she helped put together the music for some of TV’s most dramatic shows. Learn more about her process and her sound below, then hear it for yourself when Blindspot returns this Friday on NBC.

And if you missed any of The Red Line, you can still find all eight episodes on demand or through CBS All Access.

Hidden Remote: How did you decide that you wanted to take your music career specifically into TV and film? Was there something that appealed to you in this specialty?

Sherri Chung: I wanted to actually be in the film and TV business. I wanted to do it at a pretty young age; I was around 12 or 13.

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I knew [composing] was a thing you could do, but I didn’t know much about it when I was at that age. So I got an undergrad [degree] in Composition Theory, and I just made my way through college and then graduate school.

I went to the University of Southern California, for their graduate program for scoring for TV and film. I was one of those people that knew what I really wanted to do. Actually succeeding in this field is something entirely different!

HR: Like many composers, you work on multiple shows at the same time. There’s Blindspot, you just finished The Red Line and you also work on Riverdale. How do you ensure each series has its own distinct sound?

SC: I thought that too, that there would be a lot of cross-pollination. But the two shows I’m doing, Riverdale and Blindspot, the sounds of those shows are completely different. They’re stylistically different.

You put some parameters on your writing. Sometimes I limit myself to using certain sounds from a certain library of samples and instruments. These are only allowed for this show and they’re not allowed for that show. You have to be really careful at the beginning of these projects, really creating a sandbox that you can play in, and I think that just helps keep each thing separate and unto itself.

HR: On the three shows we’ve just mentioned, you’re the co-composer with Blake Neely. What does collaborating with him add that you wouldn’t have on a solo project?

SC: That’s one of the amazing things about having a co-composer, is we can be collaborative and talk back and forth, and we can share the load. That show, in particular, is packed with not only loads of action, but it’s an information-heavy show. There’s a lot of need for the music to highlight some of the things. It’s great to have Blake still involved so we can share that collaboration and artistic load as well.

Sherri Chung composes music for Blindspot along with Blake Neely. Photo Credit: Dan Goldwasser. /

HR: How do you make that determination of what a show is supposed to sound like—when it’s a series like Blindspot that crosses many different genres?

SC: Blake had a lot of experience doing that, especially with creating the music for Arrow, and that obviously has since launched a franchise of those DC superhero shows. I’ve tried to take a page from his book. A lot of it really is gut and his instincts and feel, and a lot of that is trusting the showrunners and producers [like Blindspot creator] Martin [Gero] and [executive producer] Greg Berlanti. They know the show they’re making as well.

The trust there is so great—giving back to us to add the sounds we want, but all the while they’re helping things, [saying] we really want to feel this. We really want this to be more aggressive here to highlight Jane’s vulnerability but also her strength. Those words and descriptions, when you try come up with a sonic palette of some kind, a lot of it is just, look at the screen and figure out what sounds work and what sounds don’t.

We realized strings don’t really work as well on [The Red Line]. Sometimes when you start a project, and you watch it and see the script, you have a creative conversation to get ideas and go you know what? This sound really is going to work, because that sound means strength and vulnerability, or that means excitement or contention. And other sounds are like eh, this isn’t working as much. I think a lot of it is trial and error, and then really figuring out what everyone is responding to.

HR: CBS billed The Red Line as a limited series. Did you have to approach that differently than Blindspot or Riverdale because of its shorter length?

SC: I feel I pursue things the same. Something that’s a limited series could actually be brought back; they might get a second season. But whether or not that happens, I feel the story still lives on, and I think that the scenes and material that are being written for any story need to be solid no matter what. Whether they can span 15-20 years like some shows are going, or whether it’s just eight episodes, the job of a composer and the job of the music is to be solid through and through and fortified and completely undeniable.

HR: You also work on a lot of independent films. What other projects have been some of your favorites?

SC: There’s one I finished, but it’s not out yet, called The Lost Husband. We’re still in post with it, but when it comes out, it’s a score I’m really proud of, a story I really connected with, and I feel proud of what I could contribute. I just did Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase and there’s a lot of music in there that I’m really proud of, in the sense of it was my goal to capture a nostalgic feel. Something that really kind of tapped into the history of Nancy Drew and the lineage of that.

Right now I’m really enjoying this journey and really enjoying the projects that are coming my way. I find it really fascinating what things resonate with people and what things don’t—what shows really take off and which ones don’t. I’m fascinated by the journey, and if people can listen to my music, and listen to the scores that Blake and I do together, and be really moved that’s a super-inspiring part of all of this. I really enjoy what I’m doing, and I hope people can hear that in the music.

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Blindspot airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on NBC; The Red Line is available now via CBS on Demand. For more on Blindspot and other NBC shows, follow the NBC category at Hidden Remote.