Interview with Netflix’s Lupin composer Mathieu Lamboley

Lupin - Netflix
Lupin - Netflix /

After premiering in January of 2021, the Netflix mystery thriller series Lupin became the most-watched non-English series on Netflix, getting over 70 million viewers during its first month.  Surely, part of the series’ success involves its music, and Show Snob was interested in learning what went into Lupin’s score.  The series has already been greenlit for Part 3, and you can hear music from Part 2 by checking out this link.

Read on for our interview with composer Mathieu Lamboley

Show Snob: In Lupin, I found the relationship between Assane and his father interesting and complex. It makes it a bit deeper than some other heist stories. In what ways do such story elements influence the score?

Mathieu Lamboley: You are right. To me, Lupin is all about heritage, a father passing on literary heritage to his son, and the latter continuing the legacy in the present time. It influenced my writing of the score as I decided to work on hybrid music: mix my classical heritage with more modern sounds, like I was myself trying to make my music heritage live in the present. And this is what you can hear in the soundtrack: classical writing melting with hip-hop beats.

Show Snob: Some of the music in Lupin reminds me of Serge Gainsbourg, classic trip-hop, or the Fugees. Were you influenced by those kinds of artists?

Mathieu Lamboley: My influences are mainly based on my past education and on my childhood. My dad is a jazz guitarist. We used to play great jazz classics together and I can definitely say those childhood memories inspired me in my composition work. When it gets to my studies, I consider myself having more of a classical background which obviously inspired me during my composition process too. I like Serge Gainsbourg and the Fugees but that is not what mainly influenced me.

Recommendations?  Lupin!

Show Snob: Are there any soundtracks you would recommend, for films or TV shows?

Mathieu Lamboley: I might have to say Lupin’s one! I feel like films or TV shows’ soundtracks are comparable in terms of sound to chamber music which I really enjoy composing and listening to. I don’t have any special soundtrack in mind but I think if one wants to educate oneself in terms of musical culture, one should listen to repertoire music and classical composers like Stravinsky.

Show Snob: In your opinion, how valuable is it to be a member of something like ASCAP?

Mathieu Lamboley: I am not a member of ASCAP, as I am a French composer, but I am indeed a SACEM member. To me, it is very important that my work and every other composers’ and authors’ work get to be appreciated for its true value. I am grateful for the great workload led by the people working for those associations.

Unique challenges to score composition

Show Snob: Music benefits from one’s having an excellent ear and creativity, but are there any unique challenges to composing that many people don’t understand?

Mathieu Lamboley: As a composer, my job is to make sure every obstacle hit during the filming process is neither seen nor heard. People sometimes don’t hear the music they are listening to but this is a great compliment to me. If the music doesn’t stand out in an inappropriate way, it’s what’s best for the action and the story. But if I show you now scenes of Lupin without the music, you would feel awkward. The main point is to compose something that serves the story.

Show Snob: Lupin does have evocative compositions, but there are times where the music relents so as to not distract from the story. Can that be liberating or can it sometimes be more of a frustration?

Mathieu Lamboley: When composing for films, you have to compose at the service of the story and of the image. If the fact that the music is relented has for main objective to have the audience not distracted from the story, then it’s great. Sometimes the music is played in the background as layers but sometimes it can also be put in the front which happens at the end of episode 10 when the great symphony happens.

Show Snob: Lupin takes place mostly in an urban environment. Are there any tips for who to compose for city scenes versus something occurring in, say, a rural village?

Mathieu Lamboley: For me, there are obviously some differences when composing for an urban film and for a film taking place in a rural area. I really make sure to blend those inspirations, that are for me typical of both places. I decided to work on hybrid music: mix classical inspirations that are more inherent to rural areas, with hip hop beats that echo like urban sounds. I could definitely say that Paris is also a character of the show and inspired me to compose a modern and irremediably urban score. I feel like it was one of the main reasons for the success of the show as the city and the music all blended together.

Show Snob: Other than Lupin, do you have any other favorite shows on Netflix?

Mathieu Lamboley: I am a big fan of Breaking Bad. I also really enjoyed Ratched, which I just finished watching. The score is amazing, Mac Quayle did a great job, inspired by Bernard Herrmann’s work. Narcos is also a great show I would recommend! In France, we have Le Bureau des légendes which kept me on tenterhooks during all seasons.

Hybrid style

Show Snob:  For Lupin, I think you have created a bold and edgy blend of sounds that connect the urban and electronic to the nostalgic and classic. What unique aspects of your musical background were captured in this project?

Mathieu Lamboley: I would call my composition process for this project “hybrid”. When I started working on Lupin, I spent some time thinking about what the show really stands for. To me, Lupin is all about heritage, a father passing on literary heritage to his son, and the latter continuing the legacy in the present time. The question then becomes, how do I translate this in music?

Show Snob:  What sort of future projects are you currently working on?

Mathieu Lamboley: Because of Covid 19, a great number of the projects I recently worked on are waiting to be released, I am excited to have them all available in the theaters. On the occasion of the Directors’ Fortnight [film festival], Between Two Worlds by Emmanuel Carrère will be shown as the opening. This project is an amazing film about social workers which I more than enjoyed composing for. I recently finished a Netflix feature film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and I am currently working on four different films including the next feature film by Laurent Tirard.

We’d like to thank Mathieu Lamboley for answering these questions!

Next. 5 shows coming to Netflix 2021 that we can't wait to watch. dark