Composer Jason Moss channels his inner grandmother for new series.
By Jennifer Walden
Picture a sweet, blue-haired grandma, who bakes pies, knits and reminisces about the good old days. Then meet Gigi Rotblum, the lead character in the IFC series Gigi Does It. She is a foul-mouthed bubbe who likes to kibitz about… well, just about anything. But even though she’s got the mouth of a sailor, is neurotic and often inappropriate, there’s still something charming about this Jewish grandmother, played by actor David Krumholtz. The show follows the 77-year-old Boca Raton widow as she finds odd ways to spend the remaining days of her twilight years.
It wasn’t too difficult for New Jersey-born composer Jason Moss, owner of LA’s Super Sonic Noise, to relate to this character. In fact he says he felt a connection to Gigi immediately. “My wife’s grandmother is 94 years old, and my grandmother is 94, so that uber Jewish grandmother neuroses is very strong in my life. Even though Gigi is a little more vulgar, with all her vagina and penis talk, the character is there.”
He also shares a connection to the character via actor Krumholtz, who lives in the part of New Jersey where Moss grew up. “It felt like everything aligned — it was kind of hysterical, and it was a nice, comforting connection. They were pretty much speaking my language.”
Finding the Score
Moss was introduced to the brothers Ben and Dan Newmark, founders of production company Grandma’s House Entertainment, through director of development/producer Michael Lopez. During their meeting to discuss the series’ score, Moss presented several options from his production music catalog, ranging from ultra contemporary hip-hop to kitschy Herb Alpert-inspired tunes. He also included his favorite track from Super Sonic Noise’s catalog, a quirky organ-based track laced with whimsical la-la-las sung by Moss himself. “When I got to that track they were like, ‘Holy shit that’s the theme song,’” says Moss. “It was one of my favorite tracks and I feel like it could not have a more perfect home then Gigi Does It.”
Moss, a long-time user of Apple’s Logic Pro, was able to open the original session for that track, which was created in an earlier version of Logic Pro. He did a re-edit and remix to tailor it specifically to Gigi Does It. “Everything was there and that was great because I was able to spruce it up a little bit,” says Moss. “They started cutting with the track and, in the end, they got it approved to be the theme.”
While Moss always uses real instruments to perform his guitar and bass parts, the score for Gigi Does It runs more in the elevator-vein, featuring organs, horns, and small percussion. His go-to for virtual instruments on the series are Arturia’s Vox Continental V for quirky sounding organs; Spectrasonics’s Trilian for upright bass; Addictive Drums by XLN Audio; and a small library called The Trumpet 3 by SampleModeling. “The Trumpet 3 is an amazing trumpet sample library that has a very authentic trumpet sound, with all the nuances of trumpet playing, like the way the tongue is used, and the different sorts of riffs,” says Moss. “With Addictive Drums, you can tweak the microphone distance to give it a bit more of a warm feel. The sounds for this show I want to be really warm, round and organic.”
No matter what type of music Moss is composing, he feels there are three very important considerations to working creatively. “I always say it’s your ass, your ears and your eyes. You have to have something comfortable to sit on, something great to listen to and something good to look at. So I have a killer seat, and killer monitors to listen through, and a killer monitor to look at.”
The show’s score is a combination of Moss’s custom composed music —tracks pulled from the Super Sonic Noise catalog — and quirky, campy, lounge-style music tracks from composers that have written for Moss in the past. “There are a lot of funny organs, quirky drums and some Latin samba stuff that really works for Gigi,” says Moss. All the tracks and stems are delivered in stereo as 24/48-bit files uploaded to the Super Sonic Noise catalog site. “I use a platform called Source Audio and it is basically my search/play/delivery system. They are absolutely the most amazing and current company when it comes to music catalogs.”
Delivering files via the Source Audio platform allows Moss to add artwork, metadata and publisher information. “When the post production facility downloads the files, they are all watermarked and contain all the metadata embedded in the file. It’s very organized.”
So, is Gigi Does It a series for everyone? Maybe not, but, says Moss, “She’s a funny grandma, and maybe you can relate to it because you have a grandma, or an uncle, or an aunt that is just incredibly inappropriate. Still, there’s something very sweet about Gigi. David [Krumholtz] does a brilliant job being Gigi, and you forget that there is a man in that outfit playing this old Jewish grandmother. He does such a wonderful job.”