Recently nominated for an Emmy for his work on "The Borgias," composer Trevor Morris says his career is not the result of one big break. "It's a whole series of little breaks that have helped, brick-by-brick, build it," Morris explained during an exclusive phone interview.
Currently, Morris is composing music for "666 Park Avenue," the new television drama which premiered on September 30. The series focuses on the Drake, a supernatural apartment building on Manhattan's Upper East Side. As the title indicates, the building and its enigmatic owner Gavin Doran (Terry O'Quinn) can fulfill desires-for a steep price.
"['666 Park Avenue'] is a really cool challenge, and we are just getting it off the ground, obviously. The producers and I all want to try to bring a classic, almost noir-ish element to the music," Morris explained. "Not so much a homage to Bernard Herrmann and that world. We want to keep it rooted in some of those known vernaculars for supernatural music, I guess."
Saying he likes to write from a melodic standpoint, Morris was creating a theme for the Drake itself at the time of this interview.
"The building is a character. It is an inanimate object, but it lives, it breathes, it has desires-all that kind of stuff. Musically, it is a chance to create that subtext in a way that only music can do," he said.
In 2012, Morris was nominated for an Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) Emmy for his work on Showtime's "The Borgias."
"It's a really high-quality show. From top-to-bottom, in every possible way, it's a classy show. It's a real thrill and an honor to be working on one of those flagship shows," he said.
The composer said he loves shows like "The Borgias" because he gets to create his own language.
"Obviously, it is a Renaissance piece; it is set in 1492, more or less. You have to be aware of what works and what doesn't, but I am not beholden to the instrumentation of the time or being too historically accurate, which is a great thing as a composer. I can kind of do what feels right," he explained.
"Alphas," the SyFy series about individuals with extraordinary abilities, is a very different beast for the composer.
"It has to feel contemporary and urgent. There is some orchestra in there, but not nearly as much as most other programs. It's more dependent on modern textures. At the same time, I always viewed the Alphas and their powers as having an almost has an ancient quality to them," Morris said.
Writing his first composition at age 13, Morris said he abandoned composing during high school to play in a band. After graduating from college, he became involved in the production world of Toronto.
"I got my first shows with [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer's teams. That was my big break into television, a show called 'E-Ring' about the Pentagon. That was my official break into television," he said.
The composer doesn't limit himself to one medium, though. Last year, Morris also worked on a big-budget, big screen adventure called "The Immortals."
"I want to work on the best story I can because the best story will allow me to write the best music," he explained.