Serie - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds  : Let’s talk with the Composer Nami Melumad

By Mulder, Burbank, 13 may 2022

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Composer Nami Melumad scores Paramount+ Original Series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Melumad is the first female composer of Star Trek Franchise. She becomes the first female composer to score a Star Trek TV series with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Following the May 5th premiere, new episodes of the 10-episode-long season will drop weekly on Thursdays. The series is based on the years Captain Christopher Pike manned the helm of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The series will feature fan favorites from season two of Star Trek: Discovery, Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Number One and Ethan Peck as Science Officer Spock. The series will follow Captain Pike, Science Officer Spock and Number One in the years before Captain Kirk boarded the U.S.S. Enterprise, as they explore new worlds around the galaxy. 

Q :  Hello Nami Melumad, Please can you make a short presentation about your background before talking about your work on the new and excellent Star Trek: Strange New Worlds series ?

Nami Melumad : Sure,  so musical background  I grew up in Israel and i played a flute guitar and piano and i was in a school band and I really liked like the orchestra setting but i also really loved movies and i was very into soundtracks so i really like The lord of the rings and Star wars and John Williams stuff a lot as  Home alone there are some great scores out there and i would use to play them on piano and kind of try to see how you know how what it's made of what is a score and then i figured out that it's you know it's harmony and melody and ultimately when you strive up all the orchestration and all the cool stuff. It's doable and so i started writing some stuff that this was i was like 13 or 14 years old and  then i decided that i should you know kind of go for it and become a composer and it's been a pretty big ride since so i worked on a lot of like short films and documentaries and feature films and then i got this Amazon show called Absentia that was a thriller show  and from there kind of it opened the door to a lot of other big things like American pickle and A woman in the house across the street from the girl in the window that's Netflix and then a Star trek all the Star trek stuff that i've been working on since 2019 so it's basically been a short while but it feels long.

Q :  I am a Star Trek fan since a long time. There are 12 series based on this universe and 13 movies. Before preparing this interview, I have watched the first five episodes and really appreciate your work.  Are you a trekkie and what do you like so much on this universe ? 

Nami Melumad : Oh my god I love everything.  I consider myself a trekkie in fact here's what I’m wearing like and here’s what I’m wearing when it gets a little cold in the studio and this is what I’m drinking from so i would definitely consider myself a tricky. I watch everything that comes out from track so very excited and that actually really helped in terms of knowing the franchise so good so you know the history of the musical history of those shows and you can kind of honor the previous composers and honor you know certain themes or ideas and you know the feel of track music and you know having watched the original series and Voyager.  I'm saying these shows in particular because they both really influenced my work on you know on my current Star trek shows which are prodigy so with captain Janeway we have the voyager influence and then with the original series is definitely influencing what I’m doing for Strange new worlds because you know in Strange new worlds we are trying to recreate kind of you know we're going back to the 60s in a very modern way but we're still trying to preserve the idea i mean as you've probably seen the you know the same essence and so they did it with production design and costume design and acting and then also with music that's what I’m going for like a score that is more active and more dynamic and has a lot of melody and a lot of like very orchestral less sense-based and less percussive percussion-based like it's very it's a pretty good callback to how it used to be but in a modern approach and what i love about the franchise is everything that it represents like the promise like and the fact that you know ultimately you know the future of Star trek is what i hope where humanity will get eventually because it's a place where everyone is equal and everyone is welcome and it's so i mean even from the 60s they already had this kind of diversity where you know it doesn't matter what color you are or if you're a man a woman or something else like you could be part of something greater and there's like a lot of values that are being discussed  and the way that we look. You know star trek examines others societies and other cultures you know alien societies but eventually that actually reflects on us as a human society on earth here and i love that and i remember you watching the you know TNG or actually all the Star trek shows they always bring some sort of an ethical dilemma or situation that is not super easy to solve or a puzzle or a mystery and then you know it provokes a lot of thoughts after you watch so i love that stuff.

Q :  Can we say that the fact to have a such great knowledge on the Star Trek universe helped you to create this excellent score ?

Nami Melumad : it was definitely very helpful to know the history of Star trek and you know having watched all these shows and the films I’m certainly I’m taking you know i feel like  Alexander Courage and Jared Goldsmith are in a way my mentors without them you know, we never met or anything but they are mentoring me in what i do for the score for strange new worlds because these are like I’m basically continuing their timeline I’m continuing what they started and it's a great honor and it's a great responsibility and i have to do an amazing job because you know when you look at all these great composers like James Horner, Michael Giacchino like all these incredible people who contributed to our Star trek universe music so you want to maintain that line and do something that honors it but the tradition but also goes forward to Strange new worlds.

Q :  You’re the first woman to score music for Star Trek. How does you feel about that ?

Nami Melumad : how do i feel.. i feel very honored. I feel excited. I feel it's a big responsibility to do it right and  you know so that that you know other producers will see hey women can score just as good as men maybe even better and so I’m very excited about it I’m happy that there's now also diversity behind the screen and not just on the screen with Star trek so yeah I’m the first but I’m definitely not the last.

Q :  What is for you the main duty of a good composer ?

Nami Melumad : the main duty okay.  I think it's to help tell the story to propel the story to evoke the right emotion  and basically to compensate to complement the picture or the video whether it's a film or an episode but you kind of want the music to complete things without taking away too much attention or without being too much you know too strong or too  intense or like you want to make sure that the dialogue is the Queen so the dialogue is the most important element and when you have the three sound elements like dialogue music and sound affects you have to honor their work too so you want to avoid you know fighting a certain sound effect or you kind of want to complement the all the other elements of the story so whether the scene needs a little bit of pulse and action or maybe it needs some emotional line or maybe it needs a like just hitting some comedy beats you know and with star trek i get to do all of that because it's so diverse and even with strengthening worlds the episode you know we have action and we have comedy and we have drama and we have romance and all sorts of things so it's really exciting

Q :  Music is at the center of episode 2 Memento Mori and your music takes really an another dimension during this episode. Do you see music as an important way of communication and to give a better impact to a story ?

Nami Melumad : yes of course i think it totally shows in that story in particular because the story was so music heavy and we actually like that was a request from the filmmakers to have this music even before they shot the episode  it was you know we i had to this is this was actually the first thing that i created for Strange new worlds so I’m very excited  that it worked out so well and the actors they learned the songs and i got to create the alien songs you know the where in the alien is repeat like the so the comment is repeating the melody that Ura is singing and then it sounded really probably the strangest thing i wrote at that time and then  and when the comment at the end sings it its own song and then Ura repeats it that was all really cool for me to do and  i feel that episode in particular really used the music as a device so that was like the music on its own and the idea of music is a universal language is really great like i mean sign me up for that that's really amazing so music has a lot of power especially in in this but also in other episodes.

Q :  What can you tell us about your long collaboration with Akiva Goldsman, Maja Vrvilo, Leslie Hope, Dan Liu, Sydney Freeland, Amanda Row, Chris Fisher on this serie ?

Nami Melumad : So Akiva Goldsman is our showrunner but he normally i mean we have two showrunners. Let me clarify there's Henry Alonso Myers and Akiva and now Akiva is handling a lot of other stuff not so much music we only had maybe a couple of calls at the very beginning where he kind of had some ideas and you know he threw it in into the room and i thought these were good ideas this was actually about the vulcan theme so for Spock and to pray and we had the discussion whether it should be how emotional are we going with Spock on his journey that he's half human and half welcome because this is a theme that is explored throughout the whole season. So i wanted to establish that because of you know I’m a trekkie so I know Vulcans they we don't really have a lot of them like you know to suppress their emotions. He has this clash and so ultimately our decision was that as the you know as music is going to represent what the viewers are you Know are basically thinking about this moment and what Spock is really experiencing inside then yes this was to go for the emotion so that was with the kiva and then henry is dealing with most of our other music you know discussions the director maya i think that's her name was it mile so we only had one like you know we only had the discussions at the very beginning where we i was doing the song stuff and the things that Uhura and Spock needed you know and  they wanted also that Maja wanted to have the alien music on the stage so actors will feel that it's real and so they can react  to what they hear so we did this very early on

Q :  Where is for you the best place in or near Los Angeles to record a score and why ?

Nami Melumad : To record the score, we are using the sound of the scoring stage at Warner brothers studios which it happens to be five minutes from my house so it's very convenient and it's been fantastic we're working with 37 musicians on our ensemble we have brass players we have strings and woodwinds the rest of the elements are currently you know either sins or percussions are in the box actually we also have harp sometimes on the bigger episode like when we could afford it and it's been great I have an amazing team that helps to put everything together so i feel kind of like a captain you know I’m leading this effort but you know my orchestrator is always there and he's like you know like hounds men he's you know and Tracy was also an orchestrator that helps  sometimes  and then i have Matt who's the music editor it's like number one you know with all these i really need those that crew because otherwise there would be no score.

Q :  You have won a BMI award for your score for the Oscar-winning documentary short, Colette (2020), as well as  the Hollywood Music in Media Awards for your work on Passage (2018) and Best Short Score at Fimucite (2017). Did you expect such recognition for your work ?

Nami Melumad : it's really great to receive recognition for sure.  I don't do it for the recognition. I do because I love doing that and i love telling all these stories like the story of Colette was like absolutely incredible and very personal  because she went back to visit like the camp where her brother died by the Nazis and my family like my grandfather survived those Nazi camps so this you know things are very personal  i always try to connect with the film or the project that i work on i think that would yield the best result but of course it's great to be recognized for the things that you do.

Q :  What was your best memory of working on a score ?

Nami Melumad : the best memory of working on a score, i think it was an American pickle and that was when we finished  recording the last day and i got very emotional because that was my first you know time i recorded a big orchestra it was in Fox studios and that felt like something that you know you never forget your first you know so that's how i felt about that  and it was just incredible like i would give a lot to go back to that moment it was just phenomenal.

Q :  Any advice to young film composers, especially one who want to compose for series ?

Nami Melumad : well my advice would be don't take advice from other people because i feel that everyone has their personal circumstances and so what's right for me is not necessarily right for you but that being said you know my  teachers at UFC they have a very good catchphrase which i think is really helpful and this was Don Carolyn. He is the head of the department and he said work hard be nice and get lucky and i think that's very correct because there's three things you have to be you know ethical and work really hard be resilient do everything that you need to do all your duty and then  be nice like always make people want to work with you and smile at them and do what they're asking you to do and serve the project well and you know make sure they want to hang out with your parties because you're fun and then get lucky that's the one element that it's hard to get like you know you just have to be at the right place so what i did in order to get lucky was to work on everything that i could because one day i did get lucky because an editor that i worked with on a short film remembered me when he started working on a big show for amazon and he recommended me to get that that gig and that's why you know i got lucky but did i get lucky or did i create that luck i think kind of helped so that would be you know general thoughts but everything take with a grain of salt because everyone has their own life and it's very personal.

Q :  Can you talk at all about your upcoming projects ?

Nami Melumad : yes  I’m still working on Star trek so we're doing I’m actually recording for Prodigy Star trek prodigy animation for Nickelodeon and then I’m working on Strange new worlds and in two weeks we're starting the next season so that's very exciting and i read the screenplays and I’m just so thrilled to see where those stories are going and the character development and then I’m working on an action movie which i cannot talk about yet so but I’m very excited about its sounding really cool and  yeah i love action.

Synopsis : 
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds follows Captain Christopher Pike (portrayed by Anson Mount) and the crew of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) during the 23rd century as they explore new worlds throughout the galaxy during the decade before Star Trek: The Original Series. It has a contemporary take on that series' episodic storytelling and old-fashioned designs, and features the following narration from Mount during the opening credits of each episode (which is similar to the opening narration from The Original Series)

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Created by Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman Jenny Lumet
Based on Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry
Starring  Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Jess Bush, Christina Chong, Celia Rose Gooding, Melissa Navia, Babs Olusanmokun, Bruce Horak, Rebecca Romijn
Theme music composer : Jeff Russo
Composer : Nami Melumad
Executive producers : Eugene Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Jenny Lumet, Frank Siracusa, John Weber, Aaron Baiers, Heather Kadin, Henry Alonso Myers, Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman
Producer : Andrea Raffaghello
Production companies : Secret Hideout, Weed Road Pictures, H M R X Productions, Roddenberry Entertainment, CBS Studios
Original network : Paramount+
Original release : May 5, 2022 – present
Running time 50 minutes

We would like to thank Nami Melumad for answering our questions and Mary Grace Oglesby

Photos : Copyright Paramount+

(Source : press release)