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Interview: FX’s ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ Composer Giosuè Greco

FX’s “Welcome to Wrexham” is a docuseries tracking the dreams and worries of Wrexham, a working-class town in North Wales, UK, as two Hollywood stars take ownership of the town’s historic yet struggling football club.  The series follows Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) navigating running the third oldest professional football club in the world.

The first season of the series is currently streaming on Hulu in the US and on Disney+ in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada.  A second season will release later this year.

Recently, Disney Plus Informer had the opportunity to chat with the series’ composer Giosuè Greco. Giosuè aimed to create a soundtrack that would capture the epic and anthemic energy of the UK football game and its passionate fans, while also incorporating the comforting folk sounds unique to the small town of Wrexham, Wales. To achieve this, he merged these two seemingly contrasting musical elements, resulting in a composition that embodies the spirit and character of the community. 

Check out our full interview with Giosuè below:

Can you first start by telling us a little bit about your musical background and how you got attached to the project?

Sure. I started playing saxophone when I was 8 and I come from a very musically supportive family.  My grandpa was a professional musician. I studied classical music all the way up to when I was 21 back in Italy, where I’m from, and then got a scholarship to go to Berklee which I attended up until 2014. After that, I moved to Los Angeles, where I currently reside and I basically started working in music. My background specifically is in classical music and music production, engineering.  So, film scoring is just something that I wasn’t necessarily academically prepared to do, but I always wanted to work in media, and I always knew that I wanted to have a music career in some shape or form.  So when I moved, to L.A., I had the opportunity to meet up with a composer which gave me the opportunity to start doing additional writing.

How I got attached to the project?  Basically, at that point, I had done other documentary work. The effects team and the showrunner of the show listened to all my music and some of my past projects, and I got contacted by the showrunner.  And this is actually really funny, because usually when you work on documentaries, the documentary has already been shot, but luckily I was able to get on the project about 6 or 7 months before that picture was locked which pretty much meant that I had kind of a long time to write music for the project without really seeing anything. And that was amazing because I could really take big swings and experiment and write as many crazy things as I wanted and just send it to the producer, hoping that some of the music will make it into the final score, which it did for the most part.

You grew up in a small town similar to Wales and had an emotional connection to the series.  Can you explain that and any inspirations that you used?

Yeah, I grew up in a super small town in the south of Italy, 12,000 people, 11,000 people… so incredibly small. We also have a regional football club there, they are not like Wrexam, in terms of determination, and were not ranking high… but at the same time I could really relate to the sentiment, to the pride that people have when they go to see football at the stadium. Certainly, the pride is something that we have in common.  There’s also a community aspect to all this. When the community is very small, the pride and the determination tends to be stronger.  So when I was scoring this, I was like, how can I create the sound of the town, if it makes sense?  There were a couple of experiments that I started doing early on.  The first one was to figure out Welsh traditional music and get myself a little bit familiar with it and also trying to incorporate some of those folksy elements in the score without necessarily trying to copy the traditional Welsh music. And so I went ahead and got some of these traditional Welsh and Irish instruments and started using them in a way that might be a little bit unconventional.  And that was pretty much the sound of the town.  I think another interesting discovery for me was the use of the harp over Celtic harp.  There is a couple of tracks on the album that feature harp. It was quite an interesting discovery for me because I had never written for harp before.  So, I think the sound of the town ultimately is a combination of traditional folksy instruments that don’t quite sound like Welsh music at the same time.

How closely did you work with the director or the producer? Were you given a lot of freedom to come up with your own sound?

Yeah, I was given quite a lot of freedom which I am eternally grateful for.  It’s not necessarily something that happens super often when you’re a composer. As I said, I wrote a bunch of music before even seeing anything. I wanna say I brought about 10-15 pieces.  They’re kind of like long suites, like 4 or 5- 6 min pieces with different sections and stuff.  I was basically covering a large emotional spectrum, from what I call stadium music.  They’re either very slow and very big, or they’re very, very fast and like actiony and there were a lot of emotional pieces and some comedy bits too.  I wanna say that all of the music that I composed early on… I did not think that a lot of that music would make it because I was really taking pretty big swings at that point.  The producers and the director and the showrunners were super down and super excited about the range that we were exploring musically.  A lot of the stuff actually ended up making it into the TV show.  So I’m super grateful for that. And even in spotting session, which is when you watch the picture with the director… and you guys decide what’s gonna go where musically speaking.   Even in spotting sessions.  I was given a pretty good license to try as many things as I wanted in the way I wanted, pretty much.   Sometimes it didn’t work, but for the most part it did because at that point the sound of the show was solidified. We knew what we wanted to show to sound.  No more doubts, you know.

What was your favorite part of composing the score and then also what was the most challenging?

I want to start with the challenging. There is a lot of very fast paced action in the show, for the most part. When we are in the stadium and whenever there is a a game going, there are alot of cuts in the sense that we have 15 seconds of action and then somebody scores, and there is an explosion of joy…and the sound of the actual production audio…everyone is screaming… so it gets super super loud. And then we go back down into another tension moment.  These type of dynamic moments are quite challenging to score. Even if you have a sound palette already down, it’s definitely helpful, but I think that’s definitely the most challenging part because you have to tailor your music… whether it’s for existing or brand new composition… you have to tailor it to that specific scene. And on top of that, because this is documentary, there are different sound bites and some of the audio sound bites are super loud… sometimes there is sports commentators sound bites in there… they’re very compressed and loud…and the guys speak so fast… and then 1 to 2 seconds later we jump to a much lower energy sound bite and then we go back to the commentator. So I like to tailor the music to those specific moments instead of just doing volume rides, volume automation up and down, and sometimes that’s challenging.  It keeps you on your toes, and you just gotta do it, and you’re gonna make it work musically as much as you can.

The most fun and exciting parts of this process has been pretty much buying folk instruments and learning how to play them. And this is just a very personal level.  I love challenging myself by getting an instrument that I know nothing about and practicing for a couple of days until I get some sounds out of it. I’m a saxophone player, and I’m very proficient with a saxophone but I don’t want to play the saxophone all the time. I find a lot of joy in buying a sitar and figuring out how to play the sitar.  So every time I have a project that requires me getting new instruments and trying to learn.. I’m always super excited, and I wont stop talking about it, and all my friends hate me for that because whenever they show up I’m like, Hey, look at this bouzouki, and I start playing. And they’re like, Okay, we get it. Oh, it’s a fun job, you know.

For my last question, do you have any advice for other composers who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Yeah, a couple. First of all, try to connect with filmmakers, with local filmmakers, with young filmmakers, with people that you know. Try to use your personal musical sensitivity to connect artistically with somebody that you like and somebody who’s work you’re excited about. I think we live in an era right now, where especially YouTube has enabled a lot of independent creators.  It’s giving them a space for storytelling and filmaking and there is a lot of incredible arts on Youtube.  And a lot of those guys are like 18 to 25 years old, you know. They didn’t even go to film school and I think they’re amazing. They’re incredible whether it’s CGI work, whether it’s just a shaky iphone camera, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the storytelling that we really love, that we really react to as human beings. I think the YouTube Revolution, the YouTube space has given us composers a lot of opportunities to get in touch with such filmmakers and such creators and be like, Hey, I love your stuff.  Can we do something together?  That should definitely be a step in the right direction. And then going back to the challenging yourself part.  That’s also very, very important.  And I know it’s very much of a personal dimension, but challenging yourself is just something that on a human level you should always do.  Just learn as much as you possibly can… whether it’s learning a new software… learning music harmony… learning piano, learming upper base… all of that stuff are very good will always come in handy.  They might not come in handy a year into your film scoring career but they will come in handy.  So definitely, get out of your comfort zone and learn new musical and technical abilities as much as you possibly can. So these are the pieces of advice that I’d give.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity)

Michelle Beck
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