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Sweet/Vicious - Interview with Composer Alec Puro

New to MTV's lineup this season was Sweet/Vicious. The series was pretty well received and many SpoilerTV readers enjoyed its first ten episodes. Composer Alec Puro is in a unique position to comment on Sweet/Vicious, and I put a few questions to him in what is his first interview about the series. Puro's credits also include The Fosters, along with several other reality series. He also plays in the band 'Deadsy' - the group's freshman album landed in the Billboard Top 100. Here's what Alec had to say:

Sweet/Vicious is a darker show with a heavy storyline. How did you initially approach the project?

Just like any new project, it’s always a little daunting at first cause you really want to try and do something you haven’t done before and push yourself to come up with some great themes that elevate the show as much as possible. In the case of “Sweet/Vicious” the show runners let me explore a sound that was super aggressive, tense and dark using a trapstep and hip hop feel as the foundation and jumping off point. It’s always a blast to get to switch it up and write in different styles depending upon what the project calls for.

What was your favorite episode to score and why?

Maybe Episode 104 - 'Tragic Kingdom' or Episode 106 - 'Fearless'. Both of those were a lot of fun because they were big score heavy episodes. There was a wide range of emotions happening on screen so the score had to reflect comedic moments, tense dark moments, emotional moments as well as a moment between rival sororities that we created a big African drumming cue for. It’s a lot of fun to mix it up but stay in the overall sound and tone you’ve created for the show.

When you first started the show, did you know where the characters were going to end up in the finale? Or did you find out script to script?

I had no idea where things were going to end up. I like to read the script or watch the episodes as we spot them. I really enjoy taking the journey as a show progresses.

Do you think the score progressed or was different in any way from the first to last episodes?

Definitely. It always takes a few episodes at the beginning of a new series to hone in on the sound and flow of the show. Once you find the sound and your main themes you constantly build upon those as the story progresses week to week.

Did you have a favorite character to score for and why?

I really enjoy scoring a lot of the dark tense action scenes when Ophelia and Jules are out in vigilante mode.

How closely did you work with the sound designers for the show?

On this show not so closely. There are a lot of temp SFX in the cut when I’m scoring so that lets me know what I need to work around or incorporate into the score.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones explores a lot of the same issues presented in Sweet/Vicious. Have you seen Jessica Jones and what do you think about this comparison?

I actually haven’t seen Jessica Jones but it’s on my rather long list of shows I want to watch, I hear it’s great!

Are there any TV scores by other composers that you think we should be paying attention to?

There are a lot of current TV scores I think are really great. Ramin Djawadi’s score for Westworld is amazing and I really liked the score for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story by Mac Quayle.

There has been a lot of buzz about a Season 2. Would you do anything differently with a second season?

I would definitely build upon the themes and sounds we created in season 1. It also always depends on what twists and turns the show takes as it evolves from season to season. I hope we get the opportunity to continue on with the show.

How do you balance the dramatic and comedic tones in a show like this?

Whatever the style or tone of cue I’m writing for the show, I always infuse it with other sounds from the palette I’ve created so there is a musical through line that ties everything together.

What was your experience working with the Sweet/Vicious team?

Everybody was great to work with! The show runners were really collaborative and gave me a lot of freedom to explore and come up with a cool sound for the show.

Do you have in mind a special connection to the characters and their stories when you work?

Definitely. I really try to connect with each character’s story so I can support their journey musically through the different themes I create.

What are your thoughts on the show and its importance in today’s TV?

I think the show is really well done and addresses some very important issues regarding rape culture on college campuses. I feel very lucky to be a part of a project that is raising awareness and putting something positive out into the world.

Since you started out, what do you think are the biggest changes that the film and television industry has experienced from your point of view as a composer?

I started out scoring films and it definitely feels like there has been a real shift lately towards TV now that there are so many more outlets producing great film like content. Someone mentioned to me the other day that there are around 500 TV projects in production across all the different platforms that now make shows available. The variety of shows being made right now is more diverse and exciting than ever before.

To finish up, what are the most challenging, and the most rewarding parts of your job?

I guess the most challenging and important thing when composing for either Film or TV is finding the right melodic themes that support what’s happening on screen. The most rewarding part of my job is that I get to make music every day!

This was a very interesting and insightful interview with Alec. We thank him for his time in answering a few more questions than normal and for the thought and detail in each of his answers. Below are a few tracks from the series that you may enjoy. Find out more about Alec from his website, www.alecpuro.com, and tweet him @alecpuro.

Thanks for reading. Let us know what you thought of the interview in the comments below! We've interviewed several composers for various series here on SpoilerTV, so search for 'composer' in the search box to find them.

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