Reimagining the Music of ‘High Fidelity’ for Hulu’s 2020 Update

Hulu’s updated version of the 2000 John Cusack-led, Stephen Frears-helmed, Nick Hornby-authored classic “High Fidelity” is the type of show that can — unironically — play the perfect song for every moment. And the team brought in to oversee that very delicate process was Manish Raval, Tom Wolfe and Alison Rosenfeld. The three veteran music supervisors who make up the core of a boutique music supervision and editing company called Aperture Music (founded by Raval and Wolfe over 20 years ago) have worked together on films as varied as the Oscar-winning “Green Book” and the rom-com “Trainwreck,” and TV shows like “Girls” (for which they were Emmy-nominated) and AMC’s “Preacher.” Because of their eclectic library of projects, it would seem that they were the perfect pick for a new show — created by Sarah Kucserka and Veronica West and starring Zoë Kravitz as the unlucky-in-love Brooklyn record shop owner Rob — which would have music spanning across three decades and nearly every genre.

“We always want to make our projects as great as possible,” says Rosenfeld, “but this one, at least for me, I felt some pressure. This was a project where people have read the book, they’ve seen the movie, they’re coming into it with ideas about what good music should be. But [also], it was a fun opportunity to explore all the different directions we could go with the music.”

Aperture got a script in early 2018, that took place on the east side of Los Angeles and when Kravitz was yet to be attached. They began to think of LA-record stores, bands, singers. But not long after, the story was rewritten to take place in Crown Heights. Once onboard, Kravitz, who is also an executive producer, was very involved in the process of building a world of songs for Rob along with Kucserka and West. There were also some consultations with Questlove, a prolific musician and one of the founding members of The Roots — though he never worked directly with the team at Aperture.

Traditionally, on a show or a movie, there would be a mix of existing songs and music composition or scoring, but early on, the decision was to keep it all song-based. The sheer abundance of music, songs and bands that Ravel, Rosenfeld and Wolfe had to balance was both exciting for a music supervisor and daunting.

“We worked on every episode three different ways, three different times,” explains Raval. “We’d get the script and prepare everything—getting the clearances—for what they would [need] if they were going to mention a band. Editorially, before the producers got involved, sometimes [the creators] would be thinking [they’d] want to go down a certain road, and we would do another round of chasing other song clearances. Then once we get in the room with the producers and everyone and finalizing it, there’s another round of clearances replacing other stuff. As they’re shooting it, things could change or we could pitch other ideas, too. The challenge was just trying to keep up with the amount of music.”

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