Black Lightning composer Kurt Farquhar continues to stun with music

Black Lightning -- "The Book of Resistance: Chapter Two" -- Image Number: BLK307b_0356r.jpg -- Pictured: Cress Williams as Black Lightning -- Photo: Mark Hill/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
Black Lightning -- "The Book of Resistance: Chapter Two" -- Image Number: BLK307b_0356r.jpg -- Pictured: Cress Williams as Black Lightning -- Photo: Mark Hill/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved. /

Black Lightning season 3 is off to a roaring start, and that includes the music composed by Kurt Farquhar, which continues to be positively electric.

Black Lightning has evolved by leaps and bounds every season, and so has its music. Composer Kurt Farquhar has created a score for The CW‘s hit series that almost reinvents itself to go along with the many changes in Jefferson Pierce’s world.

He took time out of his busy schedule to discuss the music of Black Lightning season 3, as well as the other TV series that he’s currently involved in—completely different projects that prove how Kurt is one of the most versatile composers working in television today.

Learn about Black Lightning‘s music and a whole lot more in our interview with Kurt Farquhar below, while you’re waiting for the series to return on Monday, Jan. 10 to The CW.

Hidden Remote: How different is the music of Black Lightning now compared to what we heard in the first season?

Kurt Farquhar: This year I’ve definitely changed the score to be a lot smaller. A lot of single instruments, and small group strings, and a lot of analog sounds. I think it’s quite a bit different.

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This season there are some major, major changes. The show is darker and we’re not having to explain as much as we had to when we were setting up the whole family dynamic in the first season. We are watching as the girls start to come into their own powers, one by one. Now you have both the girls experiencing their powers.

There’s this whole ASA takeover/shutdown of Freeland, and it’s sort of like a war zone. We’re waiting to see where they’re going and it’s really intense. I feel especially strong about the young ladies’ characters. In this season, you find out so many more things about them that make them much more rich and intense characters. Also, you really get to see much more about their mother Lynn and her involvement with ASA.

HR: We’ve also had new characters introduced, such as Wayne Brady’s casting this season. How much time do you get to craft music when a character is added to the show?

KF: I’m finding out ten minutes before you are! (laughs) That’s actually one of the more interesting things about it. This year there are so many new characters that have come into the show. I’m writing something this week, as a matter of fact, where there’s a couple of new characters that nobody’s heard of before and I’m really spending a lot of time developing a sound for each one of these characters.

We’re going places we never went before. Not only do the characters have a sound, but places that we go are having a sound. There’s the whole Markovian thing that’s going on this year. The Markovian people and where they’re at [has] a kind of deep, dark, textured sound that’s very tense and foreboding. There’s a thickness in the air whenever you’re around [them].

HR: Music is an integral part of every superhero—they all have that great heroic theme—but how do you compose for the Black Lightning characters who aren’t superheroes?

KF: With Gambi, Henderson, and Lynn, a lot of their stories are sort of procedural. They have their own superhero [mixed with] procedural type of sound. If I did it exactly like a cop procedural on CBS, like CSI or whatever, technically it would fit but at the same time, it wouldn’t feel at home within a superhero series. So we have to create a world for them, where we’re doing a procedural but at the same time we’re reflecting that we’re in this hyper sort of world.

HR: Speaking of CBS, you’re the composer for their sitcom The Neighborhood. What else are you working on outside of Black Lightning?

KF: We’re working on The Neighborhood, starring Cedric the Entertainer and it’s an amazingly funny and heartfelt show. It’s one of the top new shows on CBS. I also do American Soul on BET which is just an amazing show. I go from Black Lightning, with all the action and superhero over the top things, and then later that day I’m doing a straight comedy with The Neighborhood, then I shift to American Soul which is a period piece.

American Soul is about the beginning of Soul Train and Don Cornelius, so we created a sound that lets you feel like you’re back in the 70s. We’re doing a show on Oprah Winfrey’s network OWN with producer Will Packer called Ambitions which just came back for their second season. I am about to work on Games People Play season 2 on BET, Saints and Sinners season 5 on Bounce TV, and we’re just about to start up with The Proud Family at Disney+.

HR: Is there one of those shows you’d want Black Lightning viewers to check out while waiting for their series to return?

KF: I would say that American Soul is a very interesting show. I think Black Lightning fans would really like it too. I would suggest American Soul.

HR: Many composers work on similar shows and you can hear things that are common to their specific sound. But because your projects are so different, are you able to utilize anything you learn on one show with another?

KF: The thing I take from one show to the next is me. The thing about me is I’ve always been interested in so many different sounds and styles of music. I’m a big country-western fan. A lot of people don’t know that about me, but if I was just going to sit around listening to music, I would probably listen to country-western. I’m a jazz artist. I’m a classical player. I literally started the whole hip-hop and urban scoring sound in television, so no one sound defines me.

When I come to a show, I’m looking at it from where their show is coming from…What Will Packer wants in [Ambitions] is different than what Jim Reynolds wants in The Neighborhood. I come along for the ride. They’ve been developing these shows and putting this world together, and I get a chance to put my part in there and try to hopefully add to people’s understanding and emotional feeling in context with the subject matter that we have on hand.

HR: Is there any one upcoming project that you’re particularly excited for other than the return of Black Lightning?

KF: I’m really interested and excited about Games People Play. They’re coming back for their second season. It’s a really awesome show that premiered earlier this year on BET. Tracey Edmonds is the producer on it, and she’s put together such a magical cast and team of folks working on the show. It’s been a joy. The music I got to do on that show was so fun and so cool. I would tell everybody to keep their eye out for that one.

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Black Lightning returns Jan. 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.