In the penultimate episode of “Lovecraft Country,” composer Laura Karpman wanted to elevate show creator Misha Green’s use of “Catch the Fire,” a poem by writer-activist Sonia Sanchez.
“I thought that we should do something for the generational victims of Tulsa,” Karpman explained, referring to the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. “So I suggested that we should make a requiem and create a piece of opera.”
The poem plays twice over the episode, but the opera rendition evokes Leti’s (Jurnee Smollett) sense of assuredness as she strides through flames.
Karpman and composing partner Raphael Saadiq opened up about what it was like to score “Lovecraft County” in a video interview for Variety Artisans presented by HBO. Much of the process was experimental.
“We always try to shoot for something that we didn’t do before. It’s always a surprise for us too,” Saadiq said.
“We both have a high respect for music and we both love film,” he later added. “Every time, it’s a new challenge. We both respect it and we’re both up for the challenge.”
The duo’s partnership with Green is a continued collaboration that first began with the 2016 series “Underground.” When it came to the HBO series, Saadiq and Karpman had to execute on Green’s vision that each episode was its own movie, but still thread through “something that felt Lovecraft.”
“It was this combination of finding something that was unique to the episode and then adding the orchestra into that to give it that large-scale, cinematic feel,” Karpman explained. “A show holds together, I think, by its thematic integrity. And we had that,” Karpman said.
Watch the full video above.