Fans of Freeform’s Alone Together will have noticed a new sound underscoring the show’s comedic moments during season 2. Music Supervisor Rachel Komar tapped Brad Oberhofer, frontman of the band Oberhofer, to compose for the latest season of the show.
Operating without a composer in season 1, Komar relied on indie artists to soundtrack Alone Together last time around. Coming into season 2 she felt that adding a composer to the music team would really help round out the sound of the show. Bringing a guitar-centric sound that complements the indie pop and rock licensed cues featured in the series, this marks Oberhofer’s first tv composing gig. (Though eagle-eyed fans may have spotted Brad and his eponymous band performing onscreen in the film Table 19, and recording all those great 80’s covers for the soundtrack).
In Alone Together, series creators Benji Aflalo and Esther Povitsky star as Benji and Esther, quirky 20-something friends existing in a state of arrested development, not quite ever growing up and becoming responsible adults. The show follows their socially awkward adventures navigating status-obsessed L.A. Tunefind chatted with Komar and Oberhofer about the role music plays in the series, and some of their favorite music moments.
Tunefind: How did you establish the sound for Alone Together?
Rachel Komar: I tried to find a musical voice that resonated with both of our main characters, Benji and Esther. Since Benji loves psych rock and Esther loves female pop, it was tricky at first to find a sound in between. What was in the middle? We landed on indie pop/rock with an overall fun tone, which feels even more solidified in Season 2.
TF: Which artists helped set this tone?
Rachel: We don’t have many big “song moments” on this show, so I wanted to find a way to utilize more music. Since we didn’t have a composer for Season 1, our wonderful music editor, Mary Parker, and I scored all of the transitional moments with indie artists. Some of the most used cues came from Donora, Jet Trash, Fialta, and Cayucas.
TF: What are a couple of your favorite moments from Season 1?
Rachel: My favorite musical moment from Season 1 is in the pilot episode when Benji and Esther are trying to fit in at the pool party. We didn’t know if we’d air Season 1 in the fall or winter, but I wanted to find something that would feel super fresh at the time of airing. Since we had to decide on a song in Summer 2017, I had to make a good guess.
We decided to go with “Best Friend” by Sofi Tukker. When I first heard the song, I knew it was the perfect track, vibe and lyric-wise, but it was complete luck how great the timing ended up being. We first aired in January 2018, which was a few months after the song was featured in a hot iPhone X ad and the night after they performed the song live on Jimmy Fallon.
by Sofi Tukker
Esther and Benji interact with his sister at hi…
Another one of my favorites moments was when Esther had a sleepover, where she showed all of her guests a dance routine. It was so fun trying to find a song which would have been teen-nostalgic for Esther that would make viewers say, “oh my god…I remember that song!” We ended up using “He Loves U Not” by Dream. It was a blast!
TF: Rachel, how did you land on Oberhofer as composer for Season 2?
Rachel: When we decided to get a composer for Season 2, I wanted to use an artist who could create more full-fledged songs rather than only instrumental transition cues. Since we had scored with real songs in Season 1, I wanted to maintain a similar vibe, but more consistent this time around. I approached several indie artists who had submitted some wonderful songs for the show in general and asked their reps if any of them had prior composing experience. My favorite option from the start was Oberhofer, so it was great news when the rest of the team was on board.
TF: Brad, what was your reaction to being approached to score Alone Together?
Brad Oberhofer: You know, it takes a lot for me to get through an entire season of a tv show. When Rachel and Tricia [Holloway, Director, Music for Freeform] reached out to me about working on it, I watched all of season 1 and got really into it. Rachel used some of my music as a reference for certain cues, and I was excited about the idea of someone wanting me to just be myself for some of the cues.
TF: Rachel, what was your brief to Brad for Season 2?
Rachel: We wanted to keep it simple. We gave him some artist references, but also felt his own personal musical direction was right for the show. We knew he’d nail it! We asked him for fun energy with guitar, bass, and drums as the main focus. We wanted real instruments vs. synthetic sounds. He created a bundle of themes and cut downs up front, which we then placed throughout the season.
TF: So taking that brief, Brad, what was your vision for the music?
Brad: Rachel referenced mostly guitar-driven music, some lighter, some louder, some with distortion, some with bells, some slower, some faster. Benji and Esther are self-described as “Weird Adults.” Basically adults that never get normal jobs or fully transition into acting like “grown ups.” So I wanted the music to evoke the feeling of school being out for the summer or like jumping in a friend’s car on the last day of high school – with guitars.
TF: Are there particular instruments/sounds that are key?
Brad: I recorded a few of the cues with Jonathan Rado at his studio. Those cues prominently feature his Celeste and 50’s Ampeg amp with a ‘65 Fender Mustang. Recordings from my room most prominently feature a T-rex Reptile 2 delay pedal, a ‘67 Hagstrom, and a Joe Meek Compressor.
TF: What are a couple of your favorite themes you wrote for the show?
Brad: I really like “Day at the Zoo”, because I got to play theremin on it and I had such an incredible time making it at Rado’s studio. I also like “Breaking Free” – it’s one of the more loud, distorted, high energy cues I wrote for the show. I love the scene it’s featured in in the show — just as Esther is about to drive Dean’s car and he asks her, “Do you know how to drive a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission?”
TF: And Esther’s driving is clearly going to be a disaster! Rachel, what are your favorite licensed cue highlights from Season 2?
Rachel: We have a handful of really great cues in Season 2, but my favorite is a super fun use of an 80s hair metal ballad in episode 209. You can tune in tonight for that one!
And the finale (also airing tonight), which features songs by Norah Jones and Angel Olsen.
Tune in tonight for the final two episodes, or stream the entire season on Freeform or Hulu.
〉Full soundtrack for Alone Together on Tunefind
〉Official Alone Together playlist on Spotify