Look, FX’s Legion is weird. Even if you’ve only watched one episode of the show, it’s pretty clear that series creator Noah Hawley is trying to change the way you think about watching television. But did you know that even the Legion music is written in a way that’s meant to challenge your perception?
“Music is used as a way of supporting what’s going on,” Jeff Russo, who composes the music for the show, says in a new behind the scenes video from FX. “In Legion, more than any other show, you have no idea what’s going on. And the thing we wanted to do was use music to invite the audience to share in that experience.”
To do that, Russo has to figure out how to write music that doesn’t lead the audience, while still supporting the narrative. But at the same time, he’s actually writing the music before Hawley has even finished the scripts.
“I start talking to Jeff about music at the outline stage, so months before there’s even a script,” Hawley says. “He starts writing, so by the time we start shooting we have five to ten pieces of music that he’s written. Those go into the bin, and the editors begin using them.”
Hawley adds that more than any bit of plot, Russo starts with “what it makes him feel.”
And those feelings are often counter to what you see on screen, to purposefully “disorient” the viewer.
“These musical textures come that are often counter-rhythmic to what’s going on,” Bill Irwin, who plays Cary on the show adds.
Russo moves in and out of organic and non-organic music, to “trick” the audience into thinking they know what’s going on, when they really don’t. This includes the love scenes between Syd (Rachel Keller) and David (Dan Stevens), where Russo notes he’ll take their love theme, then “turn it on its side.”
“If you think about a full on human experience, you have to sort of look at it all from all angles,” Keller says. “What are you seeing? What are you feeling? What are you hearing?”
When it comes to the Legion music, that’s some of the most unique on TV, ever. Check out the behind the scenes below for more:
Here’s the official description of the show from FX:
Legion follows the story of “David Haller,” a man who believed he was schizophrenic but discovered he might be the most powerful mutant in the world. With help from a team of specialists, David harnessed his unique abilities and learned he’d been haunted by a malicious parasite. Now, David is all that stands in the way of “Amahl Farouk” from attaining infinite and world-ending power.
And be sure to subscribe to our Legion podcast for recaps as soon each episode is done airing!