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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Songwriter Lera Lynn Talks 'True Detective' Season 2 Music & More!

by Jon Niles   Jun 26, 2015 12:35 PM EDT

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After an amazingly popular first season of HBO's True Detective, season two has had a lot to live up to, with a new story and new stars taking on different characters. One big change came when the songwriter for the series, Oscar winner T. Bone Burnett brought in the relatively unknown singer-songwriter Lera Lynn for the season two soundtrack music. We all figured it would be a great match because fans of the crime series know that writer and creator Nic Pizzolatto is a very meticulous showrunner, but when we heard Lynn's voice on the song "The Only Thing Worth Fighting For" in the teaser trailer for the 2015 episodes, we were blown away. Thanks to Lera's haunting voice, we were sold on the new season.

In an exclusive interview with Music Times, Lera Lynn opened up about writing songs with Burnett, collaborating with the legendary Roseanne Cash, and receiving direction from Pizzolatto as a musician and actor during one important moment in the premiere episode. Find out more about one of the most talked about TV songwriters right here!

(Photo : Jamie Platus)

How did you get involved with the True Detective soundtrack and working with T. Bone Burnett?

T. Bone was interested in using a song of mine from an EP that I released last year-the title track from an EP called Lying in the Sun. We met to discuss that and he asked if I would like to try co-writing with him for the show, and I said "Hell yeah! Of course." And the rest is history - he flew me to LA and we wrote very quickly. We would typically write and then record a couple of songs in a day and there were never any revisions or anything. It was very visceral, the whole thing. I think that's an important aspect of it. Then T. Bone introduced me to the writer Nic Pizzolatto and the producer Scott Stephens and played some of the music we had been writing for them and they were digging it. T. Bone suggested that I be the girl playing the music [in the bar scene in episode one] and they were into it, luckily. Nic was saying that in order for it to make sense, for me to be in there playing the songs, that were going to have to do something to me [laughs], hence all of the makeup and everything.

 
The bar scene in the premiere featuring you performing "My Least Favorite Life" was the arguably the best of the episode. Was the music written for the scene, or the scene for the music?

The music was definitely written for the scene. Nic's got a pretty clear vision I think of what he wants. And he realizes how important the role of music is in film. And I think it's such a great part of the show that he's willing to dedicate so much time to the music. I remember the actors were so excited the day that we shot that because I think that was the first time there had been music on the set and you can tell it just takes everyone to a different place-a different level of inspiration to really get people in the headspace.

I remember watching those guys too; shooting that scene and their faces...I was completely mesmerized and blown away by how much those two actors can say with such a subtle expression. They're so talented.

 
How involved was Nic Pizzolatto with the music?

He had certain cues that he wanted us to use for the subject matter for the songs. For instance, "My Least Favorite Life," the cue was that Nic wanted a song about a lover who dies and comes back as a crow. And then introduce Roseanne, T. Bone contacted her about writing some lyrics because as everyone knows she is a heavyweight lyricist and I was just so blown away by the lyrics that she came up with for that cue. I think Nic's so creative and he has such an interesting perspective. Anything that you can write to his cues I think is going to be interesting, but Roseanne just was able to capture such a sad, sad tone. Beautiful. Really beautiful.


 
"The Only Thing Worth Fighting For" featured in the season two teaser trailer had a very positive reaction from fans...

I was very excited. I didn't know what to expect obviously. I also couldn't really say anything [laughs], it was really tough to sit on my hands - but fun too to just watch people try and figure it out and all the different ideas people were coming up with.

 
Season one was obviously such a hit, everyone was a little weary of where it could go but I really feel like the teaser trailer and specifically you singing the song over it with no dialogue really brought the audience back to the show.

The power of music! That's great to hear.

 
Has your career changed since all this attention started?

Well it's certainly picking up a little bit, lots of reviews and things like that. I think I'll really feel the difference when I get back out and play some shows, starting early July. But as it stands, when I'm at home everything is just same [laughs].


 
Are there any other songs that haven't aired on the show that you're most excited for the audience to hear?

I haven't seen the show, first of all. I think the second episode is going to be great. It's all going to be really good. It's just going to keep getting better and better.

 
How would you compare and contrast how working with T. Bone and Roseanne and collaborators on making your new album?

I think working on the music for True Detective has given a forum for a certain tone of music that I don't think would otherwise be widely exposed because typically music that gets exposure is music that gets played on the radio and music that gets played on the radio is usually at least 120 beats per minute and a major key. So I feel really lucky to have had this opportunity obviously for many reasons, but I think one big reason for me is that I think it's given me an opportunity to do something that feels very true and natural to me and not related to trying to appease the masses. And what's so interesting about this is that I really didn't know how people would respond to music that's dark, but they like it. It says to me that if it's good music people will like it, it doesn't have to be happy dance music [laughs]. So I'm really excited, I've been writing a lot and I feel like it's really allowed me to be even more liberated in my creativity and explore darker sides of myself creatively.

 
Do you have any advice for aspiring songwriters/musicians?

Just keep going! You just have to keep going. It seems like the most impossible endeavor almost every day but you just have to keep going.

For more information on the lovely and talented Lera Lynn, head over to her official website right here!

Jon Niles is a contributing features writer for Music Times. He is the Entertainment Section Editor for MStars News as well. Follow Jon on Twitter right here!

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