‘Shameless’ Music Supervisor on the Show’s Devotion to Indie Rock: ‘It’s Rare That We Use Anything From a Major Label’ (Q&A)

From The Hollywood Reporter:

In seeking out songs that are “messy, rebellious and different,” the Showtime series is giving scores of under-the-radar bands valuable synchs.

Those familiar with Showtime’s dysfunctional family drama Shameless appreciate that its storyline is far-from-average. Following Chicago working-class family the Gallaghers — led by the drunken single-father-of-six, Frank (William H. Macy) — the characters struggle with matters of poverty, drugs and sexuality in unconventional ways, doing whatever it takes (namely, stealing, lying, cheating) in order stay together.

Viewers listening closely may also notice that the show’s soundtrack is by no means traditional — rather, it plays more like a killer mixtape. In a single episode (for instance, the 2011 series premiere) the show runs through songs by Spoon, Ra Ra Riot, Cream and Superchunk with seeming effortlessness segues that not only engage music fans, but further already compelling plotlines. Anyone looking to discover new music may want to fire up the Shazam and Spotify simultaneously — or at least watch with pen and paper in hand.

Such eccentric playlists are the product of music director Ann Kline, along with the show’s producers and editors. Through music, Kline says she is able to expand on its characters — and seeing as the Gallaghers are not a mainstream family, the music isn’t either.

“I grew up loving music and watching John Hughes movies,” says Kline, a Los Angeles-native who worked as a music attorney before getting into music supervision. “So I became a music nut consciously realizing how it serves playing as a soundtrack.” The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Kline about her work Shameless must be more fun than any other project she’s taken on to date.

The Hollywood Reporter: There seem to be more synchs on Shameless than the average TV drama. Is that the case?
Ann Kline: Definitely. Because for the majority of the episodes, we don’t use a composer, so all the music you hear is licensed music. And when we do use a composer, the scores always manage to sound like songs almost — kind of rock and roll and rebellious. Some episodes have up to thirty songs and I would guess a normal hour-long drama might have five.

THR: Why use so many synchs?
Kline: Initially we were thinking, this is what these kids would listen to — none of them are really mainstream, they all have their own style. Once we got into post-production, I realized they’re always doing things. It’s rare that they’re home in any kind of situation where they’re just listening to music. So we started integrating songs throughout the whole show and now it’s almost like the music’s in their heads or it’s the music of their neighborhood. We wanted this whole show to feel kind of messy and rebellious and different, and this was one way to help push that along.

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