The challenge in composing for a series is to keep the score engaging and evolving: Ishaan Chhabra

Ishaan Chhabra is a composer and music producer based in Los Angeles and Mumbai. A graduate in electronic music production and sound design from Berklee College of Music, Ishaan’s work ranges from feature films and documentaries to branded commercials. He has composed the music for Scam 2003 and has been getting rave reviews for the same. We had a brief interaction with him, here are the excerpts:

What was the brief given to you by the makers while composing for Scam 2003?

The brief was simple – to keep the score propulsive, thrilling and interesting throughout. Hansal Sir wanted the score to stylistically depart from the first season of Scam and give Telgi his own sound.

Can you talk about how you incorporated electronic elements and guitars while giving a nod to Belgaum’s musical essence?

The electronics and guitars, along with funky bass riffs and off-beat, irregular rhythms – helped in giving the score a fun, heist-like mood, especially when Telgi is plotting his various schemes in the first few episodes. The synths I used have this 80s retro sound to them, which I thought was fitting since Telgi’s story begins in the 1980s.

Stream the ‘Scam 2003’ Title Track here:

How different is your approach while composing for a web series than for a movie?

The challenge in composing for a series is to keep the score engaging and evolving through the course of multiple episodes. You can expand upon core musical ideas much more elaborately in a series than in a film.

Scam 2003 has received love from the audience. What is different, in your view about the score in the second part?

The second part is where we see Telgi’s downfall. Along with the story, the score also becomes more serious, often darker and quite emotional by the end. The instrumentation also starts to become a bit more organic than the first half – where it is more electronic and quirkier.

Can you discuss your experience working with A.R. Rahman?

Working with AR Sir has been an invaluable experience and an absolute honour. In the 30+ film projects I’ve worked with him, I learned to be creatively fluid and not have pre-set structures in mind while composing or producing. It’s fascinating to watch him work on a Tamil song one minute and effortlessly switch to doing a Hollywood score cue in the next, while simultaneously thinking about a Hindi film song idea.

Your future projects?

There’s a supernatural Amazon Prime series ‘Dhootha’ which has just released. I’m also working on a Netflix series, a Hindi film and a US based project.

Stream ‘Omerta’s’ Original Background Score here:

Tell us a bit about your journey, how it all started up until now?

My first scoring project was a 5 episode Doordarshan series back when I was in 10th standard in school. Working on that gave me clarity that scoring for visual media is what I want to do professionally. I’ve been fortunate to have done the scores for a wide range of films, series and documentaries across wildly different genres – Children of War (2014), Budhia Singh (2015), Omerta (2016), Love Aaj Kal (2020), Mahaveeryar (2022), Writing With Fire (2022), Raksha Bandhan (2022) and now Scam 2003 and Dhootha.Well, that was it. Ishaan Chhabra, a talented upcoming musician, making a mark in the industry. Keep a watch on his work!

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