Interview: Composer Matthew Head Talks ‘Tom Swift’ [EXCLUSIVE]

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Matthew Head is an Emmy and NAACP Image Award-winning composer best known for his work on the hit series Greenleaf, P-Valley, Step Up: High Water, and more! Most recently, Head contributed his talents to Tom Swift. The Nancy Drew spin-off follows the titular billionaire inventor as he tries to find his missing father. From romantic intrigue to sci-fi twists, Tom Swift is action-packed! Head spoke with Nerds & Beyond about his vision for the music on the series, how he discovered Tom’s “Mission Theme,” and his own journey into the world of music composition.

Nerds & Beyond: How did you first get involved with Tom Swift? What was it about the series that most appealed to you creatively?

Matthew Head: My name was being tossed around to the producers and creatives of the show from several colleagues I worked with. Tom Swift’s Music Supervisor Stephanie Diaz-Matos, who I worked with on P-Valley and Queens, pitched me for the series, and we had a great meeting with the creators. I received the script and immediately fell in love with the concept and storyline of Tom Swift. Writing music for a sci-fi series is fun and innovative, and I was excited to have an opportunity.

Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW

Nerds & Beyond: The preview clips I was able to listen to are so interesting sonically — you have classical orchestra moments along with more modern beats and instrumentation. It’s a good way of showing how Tom represents a new generation of wealth and power. What was the process like of finding the right sound for the show and working with the showrunners and producers?

Matthew Head: During our initial meetings for the series, Cameron Johnson, Melinda Hsu Taylor, and Noga Landau expressed different styles of music that defined Tom’s world. Of course, a futuristic sound, but I wanted to add a Hip Hop flavor to the overall score. Cameron wanted the score to sound cool and refreshing. Adding an orchestra added the power and wealth element. After sending over a few ideas, we all agreed on the sound that you hear now in the series.

Nerds & Beyond: Is there a track from the soundtrack you are particularly proud of, and could you walk us through the process of creating that piece?

Matthew Head: “The Data Heist” was the first cue I did for the series. It was for Tom’s first mission in Episode 101 [“…And The Liftoff To Saturn”]. It set the tone for the entire season. We tossed around the idea of it being the opening theme, but it worked so well in the scene. The simple four-note melody was something that came to me while I was searching for sounds and tones. I played for the producers and they loved it. That melody is heard throughout the season and has become Tom’s Mission Theme. It changes and evolves throughout the season but is very recognizable.

Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW

Nerds & Beyond: You have worked on a variety of projects that span genres. Is there a type of show or film that you haven’t worked on yet but would like to in the future?

Matthew Head: Honestly, I am happy to work on any type of genre I am called upon. I’ve done a little on everything. To be honest, I really don’t know what my strong suit is, I just love writing music to picture. Don’t know if that answers your question … HA!

Nerds & Beyond: You have an interesting background, playing football as well as composing music in high school, not to mention your time as an elementary school teacher. What drew you to music composition as a career?

Matthew Head: Music has always been in my life. Music was a fun hobby for me, and I never saw myself writing music for film and television. As I was teaching, I would use music as an icebreaker for my students. It allowed me to speak and connect with them in a way that other teachers couldn’t. My students, family, and friends pushed me to pursue composing music, and once I trusted my gift, doors and windows flew open for me. I am grateful.

Nerds & Beyond: What tips do you have for a younger composer looking to get started in the industry?

Matthew Head: Very simple, build relationships and trust the process. Talent will get you in the door, but the relationship will get you the job and opportunities. All of my projects have been from a relationship that was created. Once people know you and trust you, they will reach out with opportunities.

Our thanks to Matthew for speaking with us! You can find more information on his current and upcoming projects over at his official website. Tom Swift premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. You can find the rest of our coverage of the series here

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By Jules
I am a nurse and dedicated nerd from Boston, MA. When I'm not at work, I'm rewatching old favorites like Supernatural or discovering my new obsessions (too many to count!). When not fangirling, I can be found reading, writing, or listening to a true crime podcast. You can find me on Twitter @juleswritesblog for more nerdy nonsense.
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