Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Marvel Studios Disney+ series composer “Moon Knight” Hesham Nazih about what inspired the series’ unique sound, if he’s interested in returning for another Marvel project and much more.
Could you explain what your role was in Marvel’s Moon Knight?
What was my role? I did that… I mean, I wrote the soundtrack. It’s basically… It’s something that I’m sure you already know, it’s just… I kinda get what you mean… What would I do with… Moon Knight’s story, and it’s is the story of Moon Knight, it’s just a massive story. It’s a story full of everything, full of emotion and romance and revenge and anger and fights and adventures and it’s full of everything, in full, in excess. So basically what I was trying to do most of the time is encompass all of that in a… United on one musical compass or sort of.
How did you get involved in the scoring of Moon Knight? How did all this happen?
Oh, Mohamed Diab, the director, proposed me to Marvel and they contacted me afterwards. And then yeah, so basically that’s how it happened. Although Mohamed and I had never met before, having never worked before, this was my first time working with him or even meeting him in person, so it was lovely.
What impact has the pandemic had on the creation of Moon Knight’s score?
Oh, I think we got used to it somehow. We sort of… It’s become the new normal, it’s become the uncommon norm, it’s becoming… One of your daily routines is to have one or two Zoom meetings a day, so that’s also how that it basically worked. It was very effective, I must say. It was very quick and very efficient in every way, I mean. And we composers, we’re so used to being confined to our rooms and not moving around a lot or not traveling a lot. And so yeah, it was… I mean, the technology was awesome in every way, and during the recordings, the monitoring of the recordings online, and… Because some of the recordings, the [inaudible 00:03:40] some of the recording was in two places, in Vienna, Austria and some of them were here in Cairo, Egypt, and the mixing of the music was in Los Angeles. And by no means would I have traveled to all these places in search of music. So yes, everything was fine. It was great, really.
What were some of the influences to create the sound of Moon Knight?
I mean, everything. I’m influenced, of course, by all the great scores and the great composers that I grew up with, like of course the great John Williams, Bernard Herrmann and, of course, John Barry, Ennio Morricone, all those iconic composers. And I think deep down, it’s part of my musical culture, all the movies and the scores that I’ve watched in my life, throughout my life. And the big aspect of the score had to be Egyptian, so… I think it was, I wouldn’t say easy, but it was the clearest part for me because it just appeared in my nature or spoke or acted or just behaved to my nature, because… There were so many aspects, the score, really. The adventures, the romance, the Egyptian part, and then the… And I think I was influenced by… I can’t identify one thing, but I think I was influenced by all of it. My origins, by Egyptian origin, the kind of music I liked, the kind of score, all that.
How important was an Egyptian sound in the Moon Knight score?
I usually don’t pay attention to where the situation is happening or where the… Who’s happening or who happened or happened, but in Moon Knight I just kept to tell me, “Well, there are things that, if it weren’t for Egypt, it wouldn’t have happened. Like chasing the [inaudible 00:06:11], graves, and trying to figure out where Ammit’s grave is and all that kind of stuff. So yes, Egypt was… And the aspect of Egypt in everybody’s mindset. And because everyone has a… We are all influenced in particular by the Egyptian civilization. We all have some kind of imagination towards him, so that was important. It was important. I would say that was a big part of the musical lines and the musical composition. I wanted it to sound different. We all want to sound different. We all want to sound different and unique in every way. But yeah, I think it was a great opportunity to bring some new color to the MCU.
What was your biggest challenge in creating the music for Moon Knight?
He creates the score for Moon Knight. It’s a challenge. It’s a big challenge. Because Moon Knight is big in comics, and this is his first time on screen, and my first time writing a superhero score. And the anticipation, the expectation, and… It’s on the one hand, and on the other hand, when I saw the first two episodes, I realized that this was an unusual series. It’s great on so many levels, so… And like I said at the beginning, the show is full of everything, all of it, and all of it, so… And it’s very well balanced dynamically, and in the meaning that there is no aspect that supersedes or overrides the others. So it was tough, in the best way, really.
And how does that compare to the work on the previous series you worked on?
It’s so different because I’ve never composed music for a superhero, because superheroes, superhero stories aren’t everywhere. They’re special to… And it’s very different in everything, in every way, and the workflow and the system, everything was different, really. But I have to say that I got all the assistance, help and advice I needed from the amazing people, Marvel. And in the end, I kept reminding myself, we’re all about the same thing, we’re all chasing that amazing, unforgettable moment that we’re always trying to create on screen, even for a few seconds, a split second , maybe , or for two minutes or whatever. It doesn’t really matter if it’s done in Egypt or Los Angeles or London, it’s the same. We are all… No matter the system is different, the means and the tools are different, but we are all looking for those unforgettable moments that we have tried to create.
What was your personal highlight? What was your favorite track from the soundtrack?
Oh, it’s a bit hard to choose because… Well, the thing is, the main theme of Moon Knight was the portal, my portal to the rest of the score, so I appreciate that so much. I appreciate it so much, because it came to me and helped me evolve and develop the rest of the score. So I build it, the whole thing, on that theme, so wherever it is and when it comes, I appreciate it. And I like it.
How does it feel to see everyone’s reactions to Moon Knight now that the show is out?
It’s crazy. Marvel fans are all over the world, I mean I get emails in your retweets and comments from India, Japan, China, Brazil, Costa Rica, Egypt and London, well safe from the United States. It’s incredible. It’s incredible. And when I realize that I was talking to the whole world through this Moon Knight, it’s just amazing.
And I have to ask, if they do another Moon Knight series or maybe Moon Knight appears in a movie, would you also like to come back and continue your adventure with the MCU? Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah.
Did you also participate in the selection of other songs like Wham! for the series?
No, I… No, no. They were there, actually most of them, most of them were there in place before I came, before I was on the project, so it was the directors, absolutely.
And finally, except for Moon Knight, what has been your favorite Disney+ original so far?
In fact, the Disney+ platform is not working in Egypt so far, so I haven’t had a chance to see. But I’m a huge Marvel fan and I love, of course, all of the Avengers and Tony Stark is a great character, of course, Ironman and Spiderman… And I’m a huge Marvel fan, and of course a Disney fan, who isn’t? But I can’t wait for the Disney+ platform to be operational, it should be operational in a month or two, maybe, in the region, I think.
You can watch the entire series of “Moon Knight” on Disney+ and find the soundtrack available on all music platforms now.