Geoff Ames of ComingSoon had the opportunity to speak with moon knight Composer Hesham Nazie on his amazing music for the Marvel Disney+ series. Nazih is an Egyptian composer with over 40 award-winning soundtracks to his credit and starring in blockbuster Egyptian films.
Geoff Ames: Thanks for talking to ComingSoon about your music for Moon Knight. So far I love this series and your rating plays a big role in my overall enjoyment of the program.
Hesham NazihA: Thank you very much, I’m so glad you liked it. It was a real experience for me, really. All of this was amazing.
You have composed music for more than 40 films in your career, but this is your first experience in a Hollywood studio. What was the experience like?
Well, Marvel and Disney have a different workflow and a different system, but once you get used to it and once you know how it works and how it all happens, you will easily learn, adapt and understand what’s going on. The guys there are wonderful. They always leave you with questions. They are always helpful and very fantastic. I was lucky to have a fantastic musical team with Marvel. So, yes, they were very different from how things are going than in my home country of Egypt. But at the end of the day, it’s just music and a new storyline. We have the same goal: to make the storyline more impressive, and to make you relate more to the storyline and characters. Yes, this is a different workload and a different system, but they are the same.
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One of the things I read about was that the show’s creators wanted to portray Cairo in a more realistic way, and they wanted your music to convey the city that never sleeps, rather than the traditional mysterious sound we’re used to. How did you come to achieve this vision?
It came naturally, because that’s the way it is. Cairo is a huge urban city that never sleeps. And for me, a man who has lived in Cairo for the last twenty-five years, it is not difficult to capture the essence of the city. It’s alive, it’s huge, it’s noisy in many ways. I just had to release it naturally. It is difficult to stop him and not let him out. It’s natural in me. It’s great to show Cairo in the series for what it is. Because for someone who has never been in the city, you might have something completely different in terms of the look and feel of the city. There are so many layers of culture and history there – ancient Egypt, the Islamic era, and the modern era. It is an ancient city, huge, it has everything, and it never sleeps. It is always on.
How does your score represent the characters of Mark, Steven and Moon Knight?
Mark Spector and Stephen Grant are two sides of the same coin. They both believe that they are controlled by Khonsu. Now, Mark’s personality disorder is a really big problem for me because musically it’s a good way to get the audience to relate to the character. The scale of the task entrusted to him by Khonsu and the task of conjuring himself as an Egyptian god is enormous. It is big. So, the moment he summons the suit, as he says, and receives the power bestowed upon him by Khonsu. He does not look like Spider-Man, he does not like this task. You can tell from situations that he’s not an ordinary superhero who goes and does ordinary things. He always has to perform a more unusual task.
His quest has weight, it’s not just fun. He is no ordinary superhero. Moon Knight is special because he suffers from Associative Personality Disorder, but he summons the costume for dramatic purposes. Not only fighting villains.
At some point, you relate to Steven and want to stay with him. And sometimes you relate to Mark and you want to stay with him, and you understand his point of view. And then you understand Khonsu himself. That’s the beauty of the story. You don’t take sides. You just relate to three of them. What I liked about this story is that I was able to love all three characters. They are all so far apart, but I appreciate each of them.
I know this isn’t your first rodeo, but was there an opportunity to try something new with this project that you haven’t tried before?
All this was new to me. I have never written music for a character who turns into a superhero. Although I’ve seen it on countless shows before, you feel like you’re used to it. But once you pick it up and try it, it will say, “Wow, this is new.” Even the dynamism of the storyline is so dynamic that I’m not used to it.
I decided to write the main theme of the character so that it was very close to the three of them – Mark, Steven and Moon Knight. I believe Moon Knight sums up all three of them. He is the key aspect of the triangle. He is the sum of all three. Maybe everyone sees it that way, but that’s what I had in my head when I wrote the music.
When you add the three together musically, you have Moon Knight. So that’s how I meant it all.
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So, speaking of Khonsu, I heard that you visited the actual tomb of Khonsu in Luxor, Egypt. It is right?
Sure sure! It was just a coincidence. I shouldn’t have gone to Luxor. I had to do it in very unpleasant circumstances. I was so tired and there was so little time. I had to fly out in the morning and return the same day. Flight hour, but it was ok. I knew that I was going to visit the huge temple in Luxor. I have never been there. It was my first time. But the temple was just magical. It was a magical moment for me. I thought, “Wow, I must have been brought here for a reason.” This is an amazing place. And you know what, it was also a full moon! It was something. All this should have been.
That’s why I think I’m connected to Moon Knight. Perhaps I misunderstood when I said that he did not enjoy the experience. He is unusual, Moon Knight, in many ways. So many dramatic ways that help me, of course. The more emotion it carries, the more musicality I can bring to it, Mark and Steven.
What do you ultimately want the audience to feel when they hear your Moon Knight score?
I want them to enjoy the show as much as I do. I want them to enjoy the ride – it’s a great ride. I also wanted them to hear something that sounded Egyptian, not like someone trying to imitate Egyptian music. Especially tools, behavior and tools. In addition, I tried to make the authentic Egyptian elements fit comfortably in the orchestra – wind strings, double wings, a large choir. I wanted all this to be combined with Egyptian instruments in a comfortable and natural way. So did it all moon knightor at least how I imagined it in my head.