HBO’s original series “Insecure,” known for its humorous portrayal of life in LA, has been quietly gaining recognition as a beacon of hot tracks.
The series has a popular Spotify playlist that contains season one and two’s soundtrack, with new songs added weekly as season two progresses — the playlist is currently at 137 songs.
The music on “Insecure” features a wide range of styles, from lauded rappers like Kendrick Lamar, and Frank Ocean, to up-and-coming R&B, neo-soul singer SZA.
Miguel and SZA have debuted new music on “Insecure” this season, and the series also reached out to some of its favorite artists (Jorja Smith, Bryson Tiller, and Jazmine Sullivan) from season one to create original tracks this season.
Business Insider spoke to “Insecure’s” music supervisor Kier Lehman about how he finds “fresh” new music for “Insecure,” and how he curated a selection of new and original music to match the current LA vibe of the show.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
“Insecure” looks to give exposure to undiscovered and independent artists.
Amanda Luz Henning Santiago: Can you walk me through how you select music for “Insecure?”
Kier Lehman: It’s driven by Issa, and also Melina Matsoukas the executive producer, and Prentice Penny who is the showrunner. At the beginning of season one, we discussed what the sound of the show is. What are some things that are important to them, that they wanted to include. The show is set in LA so it was really important to include, and feature a lot of LA artists.
We talked a lot about independent artists, and featuring new artists. Giving exposure to underground, and undiscovered artists — as well as including classic songs interspersed throughout the episodes to help ground the show, and give the audience songs that are familiar. [Those songs] kind of bring them back to a certain time, or remind them of a time when that music came out. That also helps bring a little more context to the scenes.
Lehman looks to a wide variety of sources to find new artists for the show.
Henning Santiago: How do you go about finding undiscovered and independent artists for the show?
Lehman: I’ve always been interested in discovering new artists that are just coming out. But I’m also looking back, and discovering artists that had a lot of influence on the music that’s come after them, but maybe didn’t get much recognition. I’m always kind of just digging, and looking, and interested, and curious about new music.
People pitch me music all day long because I’m a music supervisor, and I work on exciting projects that people want their music in. So, I get pitched music all day long from major labels, publishers, managers, agents, and artists themselves that I have relationships with. I also look to different resources, like different online magazines, websites, and blogs that write about new music. And I’m active on social media, following artists, and seeing what artists they’re talking about.
I also have a lot of relationships with friends, and people in the industry that I trust, who bring me music, and introduce me to different artists.
Season two featured a lot of new and unreleased music this season.
Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images
Henning Santiago: I know that Miguel and SZA premiered some unreleased tracks on the show. How did you get access to that unreleased music? Or, was it a different process with the more well known artists?
Lehman: We have a soundtrack coming out through RCA, and we have close relationships with all the labels. We get advance music from all the labels, but of course we have this special relationship with RCA. They were feeding us a lot of their upcoming releases early, in the hopes that we could work that into the show. The SZA stuff we got from them early, and obviously it fit so well with the show that we were able to use two songs in the first two episodes.
The Miguel track was something where I knew he was working on new music, and he’s an LA R&B artist, that fits the sound of the show so well. I was really pushing to get the upcoming music that he was working on, in case something worked for the show. He’s signed onto RCA, so I knew we had a little bit of an advantage, and a connection to get it. So, I finally got this track from them, really liked it, and sent it over to the show. I let them know that we had this really great piece of music that was unreleased and coming out, so it would be cool to find a good spot for it. And our editor cut it into this great montage and it works really well, it’s a really cool use.
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