The prolific musician also explains how being on camera for one of the season's most emotional moments helped focus the sound for the HBO series' latest episodes.
Music on “Euphoria” can come down to the wire. The HBO show’s composer Labrinth, working on a Season 1 soundtrack that’s only gotten more popular the longer it’s been released, put the finishing touches on the score with precious little time to spare.
“Literally, the songs ‘Forever’ and ‘Still Don’t Know My Name,’ I finished them a few days before the score came out. It was like, ‘Bam, send it to mix.’ And it was done. Most of the records, I finished them that way,” Labrinth said, speaking from a booth in Los Angeles where he’s finalizing the Season 2 album.
The first season of “Euphoria” established a musical foundation for the show, but one that Labrinth was hesitant to rely on. Although there are faint echoes of character themes sprinkled in throughout Season 2 — Rue (Zendaya), Nate (Jacob Elordi), and Maddy (Alexa Demie) all get refracted versions of the music that helped introduce key sides of their personality — the particular synth textures that made up so much of the original melodic DNA gave way to something else. Through conversations with series writer-director Sam Levinson, Labrinth arrived at a sound both grander and more grounded.
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“We spoke about using organs because of a lot of the religious influences in the show, especially with Rue. We wanted a lot of the sounds edging towards a religious sound. And because I love both Pentecostal and Catholic sounds, I kind of was like trying to merge them both together,” Labrinth said. “‘All for Us’ kind of has both with the choral sound and the Pentecostal Black church sound mixed together. But with this one, we’ve got the organs which is very much a Catholic sound. I wanted to use those as our tension-builder in this in this season, and I think Sam enjoyed that.”
The church idea reverberates loudest in maybe the season’s most memorable moment. While caught in a memory of her late father, Rue walks through church doors, passing by an entire congregation. There at the front stands Labrinth himself, singing the words of “I’m Tired,” a song he co-wrote with Zendaya and Levinson.
It’s a song that’s as full and rich as it is plaintive, one that Labrinth performed live on the day of filming. Hopping between full-voiced belting and his distinct falsetto, it’s also one of the more challenging songs to sing that he’s written for the show so far. Fortunately, amid the emotion of the day, the Southern California environment and the presence of key cast members added to the impact of the moment.
“I don’t know what it is about this side of the world. But my voice feels fine over here. I can sing for ages. Maybe it’s the dust in the air? We did a lot of times, but I just zoned in. I was like, ‘Even if your voice cracks, and you fall to pieces and you go out of tune, just sing it like you mean it.’ That’s all I focused on.” Labrinth said. “Also, I knew what Rue was going through. Being in a church, it felt spiritual. Zendaya was crying. I was crying. We had Hunter [Schafer] and Dom[inic Fike] and everyone could feel the vibe there was different. And definitely I think having a B-3 there as well. Because a B-3 Hammond always takes your heart to somewhere.”
Considering the amount of music refining that happens on the show after principal photography is finished, Labrinth now had a fresh opportunity to incorporate that direct experience with the show and help focus his work on the rest of the season.
“There was a time where we didn’t see each other in the pandemic, and I was in London, and I think maybe I was sonically missing the mark of what Sam wanted to do. So when I got on set, he was like, ‘This is what I needed to say to you.’ And he just vomited all these ideas out on me. And then I was like, ‘I get it.’ That’s when ‘I’m Tired’ and quite a few of the records came from,” Labrinth said. “Me and Zendaya started writing a lot together. I think it was me being around her energy and Sam’s energy and us talking about religion and gospel. I had Kurt Franklin in my head, I had Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra. And then I had the Catholic Church, the Pentecostal church, and then Kanye, and hip hop in my head. Those things were inspiring the way I would harmonically move. The melody on ‘I’m Tired’ was definitely that approach. I wanted the chords to feel like pushing and pulling, minor to major, confusion and clarity all at once. And then this moment where it’s just like, ‘OK, I’m going off to the heavens.’”
In addition to the show’s well-established currents of heartbreak, loss, and addiction, Season 2 adds some addition weight. Writing music for death threats, physical assaults, and any number of lives in complete free fall doesn’t exactly make for an easy headspace to occupy.In combining the show’s more extreme moments with its gentler ones, Labrinth said that his instinct was to continue the operatic expansiveness of Season 1. Levinson envisioned the Season 2 music as more contained and tethered. Conversations between the two resulted in an opportunity for Labrinth to add sound layers that kept the music in sync with the show’s ambitions.
Eddy Chen / HBO
“I’ve gone bonkers and lost my mind on granular synthesis. And I love wavetable synthesis and modular synthesis as well. I did it a bit on Season 1, but it was usually just one sound by itself. I messed around with the MS-20, which is a semi-modular synth. And so on this one, I wanted to mess around with all of them, sample approaches to synthesis, and mix them with the organs,” Labrinth said. “Especially on this score, I used a lot of vinyl static and I really love the sound of it. And I kind of wanted to use it like you would use a chime bell in a higher register. When you put it in a granular synth, it kind of starts to jitter and kind of break up this static sound into something that’s otherworldly. I love the prickliness and gnarliness of ‘Euphoria’ and this season was like Season 1 on steroids. So I wanted to make sure the tension was heavy, and for it to feel quite rich and layered.”
Part of the reason for that lengthening and expansion is the online response to the show’s music. Even before a proper Season 2 album release, you can find 10-hour loops of music taken straight from the show itself. Add in the show’s fanbase footprint on everything from TikTok to Spotify — where Labrinth is the 84th-ranked artist in the world, before the Season 2 soundtrack and his upcoming third solo album might send him even higher — and there’s a healthy appetite for extended versions of the melodies and soundscapes that pop up in “Euphoria.”
“All of those songs became three-minute songs when the fans went crazy over the music. ‘Still Don’t Know My Name’ was literally a beat. Like it wasn’t even the stuff. The track that starts with me singing in the first verse was literally just an MS-20 sound and some reverb. It kind of sounds arrogant of me, but I was like, ‘They’re kind of like pop songs. People might just like fall in love with them.’ Then, a week after the show aired, people were trying to find them,” Labrinth said. “This time around. I made longer cues. If Sam wanted to use more parts, or he wanted them to make transitions in between scenes, I thought it would probably help. So I just finished them in that way. It was like, ‘Let’s just write a record.’”
There’s a spontaneity and impulsiveness that’s helped realize some of the show’s music, an idea that extends throughout the editing process.
“Sometimes when overthinking gets into it, you can you can kind of ruin the rawness of what you’re about to share,” Labrinth said. “Sam would sit in the editing room with the editors, with the music, and it would almost be like watching DJ Premier or J Dilla sitting in the studio. Like, ‘Yo, let’s edit this part! Let’s put that over there!’ He’s that skilled in terms of knowing what elevates a scene.”
Regardless of what final version this music takes, it’s hard to stay locked into one thing. Labrinth said that he didn’t go back and listen to Season 1 music, mainly because there’s always a slight change he can hear. (“That hi-hat panned to the right! I need more of that!”) Whatever a potential Season 3 score might bring, there are many real experiences woven into this most recent music that might be hard to listen to for other reasons.
“While working on the show, life definitely happened. There were a lot of moments where, in my own internal, personal life, there was just madness. I went to the hospital for stuff happening [with] my family and like loads of crazy things. And then of course, moving to LA was a bit of an intense one,” Labrinth said. “I think that made it more difficult to have my head in two spaces. But writing music, I just feel like I’ve been doing it for so long. The only time I feel fear is when I feel scared to make music. So I make sure that I don’t feel that fear. It’s my Mr. Miyagi thing that I have to constantly practice.”
“Euphoria” Season 2 is available to stream on HBO Max.
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“I'm Tired” by Labrinth: Rue, while high, walks down an imaginary church aisle and hugs the gospel singer, who transforms into her father.Who was singing in the church in Euphoria? ›
Fans of the show first got a snippet of the track in episode 4 during an emotional scene where Zendaya's character Rue envisions herself in a church, sharing an embrace with Labrinth as he sings the song.What is the song from season 2 episode one Euphoria? ›
Euphoria season 2 episode 1 soundtrack
Hypnotize - 2007 Remaster - The Notorious B.I.G. DIRT - B.O.B.
"Understand Me" an unreleased song by Labrinth: Plays out during the closing credits.What was the song at the end of Euphoria Season 2 Episode 4? ›
Labrinth made his on-screen debut in “You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can” as a singer leading praise in church. The song he's singing is called “I'm Tired” which contextually speaks to Rue's inner thoughts.What does the church scene in Euphoria mean? ›
The perspective in the church scene switches between Rue hugging Labrinth and her father multiple times. While religion isn't a big theme in Euphoria, this could serve as imagery of Rue embracing her Earthly father as well as her Holy father, indicating that she will soon die and go to heaven.What was the classical song in Euphoria? ›
“Amore mio aiutami” by Piero Piccioni: Plays during the “overture” of the episode. “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille: The 1975 cover plays during a montage introducing the play's versions of Euphoria's cast of characters.What song plays at the end of Euphoria Season 2 episode 3? ›
“Watercolor Eyes” by Lana Del Rey: The song previously featured in this episode's trailer plays the end credits roll.What song plays at the end of Euphoria Season 2 episode 5? ›
“It Never Rains In Southern California” by Albert Hammond: End credits roll.Does Rue go to church in Euphoria? ›
In the latest episode, Rue, Elliot, and Jules are seen attending a funeral at a church. Fans originally had theories that it may be Ali's funeral after he and Rue had a falling out, but that may not be the case.
“Peace Piece” by Bill Evans: End credits roll.What song was Lexi listening to in Euphoria Season 2 episode 2? ›
I can't be the only one that paused the episode when Lexi got on her bike to see Fez and a futuristic hyper pop song started blasting because I HAD to find that one song (it's “Haunted” by Laura Les).What happened in season 2 episode 8 of Euphoria? ›
Maddy and Cassie seem to have started repairs to their friendship post-fight, with Maddy offering a somber warning about Nate's abusive habits. Nate uses his anger to turn over his Dad's secret to the police—causing inevitable harm to Jules in the process.What did season 2 episode 4 of Euphoria mean? ›
Jules discovers Rue's relapse. Jules cheats on Rue with Elliot. And Cal Jacobs takes off the mask of shame and accepts his sexual fluidity, a moment that during perhaps another INXS-scored period in time may have been redemptive, but somehow just feels sad and morose and, when it comes to his family, sort of cruel.What happens at the very end of euphoria Season 2? ›
A shootout ensues, and Ash, the youngest character in the show, is killed after shooting and injuring numerous cops. In the process, Fez gets shot in the stomach, and despite his injury, we last see him being handcuffed and taken away by police officers.What happens Euphoria season 2 episode 7? ›
Elsewhere, Rue (Zendaya) is back at home and gets an earful from her mum. Her little sister Gia (Storm Reid) has started to get into trouble at school and her grades are slipping. In no uncertain terms, her mum tells Rue that if she can't save both of them, she'll focus on saving Gia instead.Who is in charge of the music in Euphoria season 2? ›
The second season of HBO's "Euphoria" featured an eclectic soundtrack with more than 100 songs. Music supervisor Jen Malone spoke to Insider about the process of scoring the show. She also revealed details about musical moments, like Ethan's rendition of "Holding Out For a Hero."What song was Cassie singing in Euphoria season 2 episode 4? ›
Cassie is also losing it. Who else caught “Don't Cha” by The Pussycat Dolls playing as she was coming down the stairs towards Nate and Maddy? Hilarious. About Elliot…What is the main message of Euphoria? ›
The intended message in “Euphoria” aims to humanize substance use disorders, but the show glorifies drug use. Since the release of the second season in Jan. 2022, over 13.1 million people have streamed the popular show “Euphoria” on HBO Max alone.What is Euphoria trying to tell us? ›
Euphoria—the most tweeted-about TV show of the decade in the U.S.—has thrust teenage drug use into the cultural spotlight. The HBO show follows 17-year-old Rue Bennett, a sweet but troubled teen played by Zendaya, as she navigates a deepening drug use disorder.
- 1 Nate Stalks And Beats Tyler. ...
- 2 Mouse Forces Rue To Take Fentanyl. ...
- 3 Nate Chokes Maddy And Blackmails Jules In The Same Night. ...
- 4 Rue's Hoodie. ...
- 5 Cal and Nate's Physical Altercation. ...
- 6 Rue Relapses. ...
- 7 Cal's Walk Down Memory Lane. ...
- 8 Rue's Drug-Induced Hallucination Of Her Father.
Labrinth: It became fun because there was such a fandom for that part of the show. I felt we were creating the score with fans of the show. I was quite vocal and asked people what they wanted to see. It's not my score, it became theirs.What is the song at the end of Euphoria episode 8? ›
"I'm Tired" by Zendaya and Labrinth: Rue shares in narration that she stayed clean the rest of the school year and wants to continue working towards being a good person. End credits roll.What is the song at the beginning of euphoria Season 2 Episode 3? ›
A brand new song from Lana Del Rey called “Watercolor Eyes” debuts in this episode's credits which fans were quick to point out last week when the teaser aired.What song is Rue listening to in season 2? ›
2pac - "Hit 'Em Up"
After a look into Fez's past, we get to see a rare lighthearted moment in this episode when Rue raps Tupac's “Hit Em Up” in the back of the car on the way to make a drug deal with Fez and Ashtray.
Both Jules and her sister buy Rue's ruse, and they chalk her fluctuating emotions up to weed usage. With this knowledge, Jules forgives Rue for hiding her relationship with Elliot. Still, Jules believes Elliot just wants to sleep with Rue, and she interrogates Elliot to find out.What happened in season 2 episode 5 of Euphoria? ›
After Leslie dumps Rue's suitcase of drugs down the toilet, we see Rue reach a new level of rage and fear—and Zendaya truly double down on her already-Emmy-winning performance—as she is both afraid of repercussions from Laurie and beyond livid with her family, Jules, and Elliot for staging an intervention.What happened at the end of euphoria Season 2 episode 5? ›
Contrary to numerous fan theories, Rue makes it out alive, heading back home to safety, but not out of the woods.What song plays at the end of Euphoria season 2 episode 8? ›
The second song, “I'm Tired,” was performed by Zendaya and Labrinth, and appeared in the finale's hopeful closing scene.Does Rue cut herself in Euphoria? ›
Since relapsing, Rue has been slowly alienating herself from her support group. Two episodes ago she brought up Ali's abusive past, threatening to sever her connection to him as sponsor. Last episode, she cut herself off from Jules after she expressed concern over Rue's drinking.
As Rue leaves, Laurie even says, “Hey Rue, if you screw me over, I'll kidnap you and have you sold to the worst people I know.” In Episode 5, viewers get a clearer picture of how manipulative Laurie is.What episode was the church scene in Euphoria? ›
believe me by Labrinth (season 2 episode 4 of EUPHORIA)What was the church scene in Euphoria about? ›
The perspective in the church scene switches between Rue hugging Labrinth and her father multiple times. While religion isn't a big theme in Euphoria, this could serve as imagery of Rue embracing her Earthly father as well as her Holy father, indicating that she will soon die and go to heaven.What was the song Fez and Lexi were singing? ›
“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King: Fez and Lexi watch Stand By Me and sing along to the song.What song is in euphoria Season 2 episode 5? ›
“Fever” by Sharon Cash: Rue steals jewelry and money from a safe and runs away. “Understand Me” by Labrinth: Rue runs from the cops. “It Never Rains In Southern California” by Albert Hammond: End credits roll.What lesson does Euphoria teach? ›
The most important takeaway any parent of a teen can get from 'Euphoria' is that addiction is a real, complex, deeply ingrained behavioral health disorder. It is not simply choosing to get drunk or high all the time and it definitely isn't something that will just go away.What is Euphoria trying to convey? ›
Euphoria shows the viewers a raw representation of what it is like to be a teenager today for many people, and also the problems with drugs and sex that can possibly come with it. It has, however, received a lot of backlash due to the amount of explicit substance use shown in the series.What did the note to Lexi say in Euphoria? ›
All Lexi knows of Fezco's fate is that he wasn't able to make it to her play. But while Lexi might not know what Fez wrote in his letter, thanks to Angus Cloud, at least fans now do. In an interview with Variety, Cloud revealed that the letter was “a congratulations.”What song plays at the end of Euphoria Season 2 Episode 3? ›
“Watercolor Eyes” by Lana Del Rey: The song previously featured in this episode's trailer plays the end credits roll.What song was Lexi listening to on her bike? ›
I can't be the only one that paused the episode when Lexi got on her bike to see Fez and a futuristic hyper pop song started blasting because I HAD to find that one song (it's “Haunted” by Laura Les). While episode two had more drama and less music than episode one, the song selection was stellar as always.
Elsewhere, Rue (Zendaya) is back at home and gets an earful from her mum. Her little sister Gia (Storm Reid) has started to get into trouble at school and her grades are slipping. In no uncertain terms, her mum tells Rue that if she can't save both of them, she'll focus on saving Gia instead.What did season 2 Episode 4 of Euphoria mean? ›
Jules discovers Rue's relapse. Jules cheats on Rue with Elliot. And Cal Jacobs takes off the mask of shame and accepts his sexual fluidity, a moment that during perhaps another INXS-scored period in time may have been redemptive, but somehow just feels sad and morose and, when it comes to his family, sort of cruel.What happens euphoria Season 2 Episode 8? ›
Maddy and Cassie seem to have started repairs to their friendship post-fight, with Maddy offering a somber warning about Nate's abusive habits. Nate uses his anger to turn over his Dad's secret to the police—causing inevitable harm to Jules in the process.