After the cliffhanger finale in Part I, fans of Netflix’s Lupin have been eagerly awaiting the premiere of Part II, now that Assane Diop has become the most wanted man in France. Netflix will soon release five more episodes. Mathieu spoke exclusively to us about the work he did on the show ahead of Part II's premiere. You can read the entire interview here.
In case you aren’t familiar with the series, Lupin follows professional thief Assane Diop, the only son of an immigrant from Senegal who had come to France to seek a better life for his child. Assane’s father is framed for the theft of an expensive diamond necklace by his employer, the wealthy and powerful Hubert Pellegrini, and hangs himself in his prison cell out of shame, leaving the teenage Assane an orphan.
Twenty-five years later, inspired by a book about gentleman thief Arsène Lupin his father had given him on his birthday, Assane sets out to get revenge on the Pellegrini family, using his charisma and mastery of thievery, subterfuge, and disguise to expose Hubert’s crimes. The score composed by Mathieu Lamboley, a French composer, adds suspense to the drama. Mathieu creates an original musical environment for the series by combining classical music with hip-hop beats.
WoN: Tell us how did you first get involved with Lupin. Why did you choose the script?
The producers organized a pitch after my French agent learned about the project. He organized a competition that involved several composers who worked on scenes. I was selected to be part of the pitch. My first suggestion was the Arsene motif, which would be the main theme for Lupin. What I liked in the script was the fact that the series is not a remake of Maurice Leblanc’s books, but more a way of continuing the book’s legacy in the present., with this character of Assane living in Paris in the 21st Century.
WoN: What would you say about your series score?
If I were to describe it in one word, I would call it a “hybrid”. Lupin was my first project. I took some time to think about the true meaning of Lupin. Lupin to me is about heritage. A father passes on his literary legacy to his son and the son continues the legacy. Now the question is, "How do I make this music?" My goal was to create hybrid music, combining my classical music with modern sounds. It felt like I was trying to bring my musical heritage to life in today's world. This is the soundtrack: there's a mix of classical music and hip-hop beats.
WoN: Part II of the series was directed by Ludovic Bernard and Hugo Gélin. How much input did they each have to the music for their respective episodes?
Every director speaks differently about music. But in a show like Lupin there’s also a matter of unifying the season throughout the episodes, and it’s part of my job as a composer to create this unity. Ludovic’s episodes were really easy to work on as their aesthetic was totally matching with what I had composed for the first episodes. Hugo directed the last episodes. In particular, episode 10, which features a music sequence that was shot at Theatre du Chatelet. Hugo wanted this episode to be a grand finale, so I needed to come up with something new. It was a great challenge, and I managed to compose a symphonic work.
WoN: What is the difference between Part I and Part II in your Score?
In Part I, I introduced the main themes and really explored Lupin’s hybrid musical style.
Part II gave me the opportunity to explore my writing more deeply. This was what I loved about the series format. For a composer it’s a fantastic opportunity because you have time to develop your ideas. The show's audience is familiar enough with your themes and sounds that you are able to go further creatively as the episodes progress. The final episode featured a rich symphony in which all of the themes from the show were merged together. While it would probably have been excessive in other episodes, the Part II finale was perfectly appropriate.
WoN: Lupin puts a meta twist on the stories of master thief Arsène Lupin, which was created by Maurice Leblanc in 1905. In a few stories, Lupin crossed paths with Sherlock Holmes. Were you familiar with Leblanc’s stories before beginning work on the show? Are you familiar with Leblanc's stories?
Arsene Lupin was one of my favorite books as a child. I had many copies of the books and loved them all. When I started working on Netflix, I didn't read the books again. Perhaps because I was busy writing, or because my goal was to create a new soundtrack to the show. While I did get most of my inspiration through the series, I also kept my childhood memories close to my heart.
WoN: Was it possible to work with an orchestra on the Lupin score. WoN: Did you have the opportunity to use an orchestra for the Lupin score? If yes, could you tell us where everything was recorded?
Different studios in France and Macedonia. It was essential to be surrounded by real people. You can hear the bass clarinet playing on Lupin because someone actually recorded it. For my symphony in the final episode, we were lucky enough to work with a great French orchestra: the Orchestre National d’Ile de France. My piece was performed by 72 musicians. It was vital for me to showcase the talent of French musicians.
WoN: There have been 4 directors between Part I and Part II. What is the best way to keep your sound consistent across all of the creative inputs?
When working on a show like this, you spend a great amount of time finding the right color during the first episodes, basically defining the music’s DNA. The producers have long, rich conversations with all involved. This includes the showrunners and executives from Netflix. Everyone respects the language once it is established. Music becomes a secondary character. Just like the characters’ personality traits, once you have them, you play with them and develop them even more. You wouldn’t completely change them from episode to episode, just because of the director.
WoN: The show allows you to experience France in a more intimate way, and your music makes it seem even more real. How do you feel your musical style and tone differs from American music composers, since you're French?
I’m definitely a French composer, having studied at the Paris conservatoire, and my favorite composers are Ravel and Debussy. You can hear this in some of my music. But what matters most I think is that I don’t try to sound American or ‘international’. I embrace my heritage. Just like the whole show, it doesn’t try to erase its “Frenchness”. I guess it’s part of the interest of a show like this, that has met a broad international audience. They can see Paris and the French culture. It's a common belief that I can also enjoy French music. Then in terms of production, we’re glad to show our savoir-faire, meeting the international standards, while keeping our personality.
WoN: Lupin, a French series that has gained popularity around the globe is called "WoN". According to projections, Part 1 was viewed by 70 million viewers. Which part of the series do you like most?
It's part of what I believe is the attraction to show the French culture, even more so in a period when people couldn't travel as easily. And then it’s just a good show! I believe people enjoy the character of Arsène most of all. Omar’s interpretation is fantastic, playful, friendly, and fun with this touch of low-fi tricks. He makes Assanane profoundly human, that’s what it’s all about right?
Lupin Part II will be available on Netflix June 11, 2021.