Moon Knight Composer Hesham Nazih on Scoring the MCU Show

ComingSoon’s Jeff Ames had a chance to speak with Moon Knight composer Hesham Nazih about his terrific score for the Marvel Disney+ TV series. Nazih is an Egyptian composer, who has more than 40 award-winning soundtracks under his belt and is a staple of blockbuster Egyptian films.

Jeff Ames: Thanks for speaking with ComingSoon about your score for Moon Knight. I love the series so far and your score plays a big part in my overall enjoyment of the program.

Hesham Nazih: Thank you so much, I’m so happy you like it. It’s been quite an experience for me, really. The whole thing has been amazing.

You’ve scored over 40 films in your career, but this is your first go with a Hollywood studio. What has the experience been like?

Well, Marvel and Disney have a different workflow and different system, but once you get used to it and once you learn how it works and how things go — and it’s easy to learn and adapt and comprehend what’s going on. The guys there are amazing. They ever leave you with questions. They’re always helpful and very fantastic. I was blessed to have a fantastic music team with Marvel. So, yeah, they were very different with how things go than they are in my home country of Egypt. But in the end, it’s just music and a new storyline. We have the same goal: to make the storyline more impactful and make you relate to the storyline and the characters more. Yes, it’s different workload and a different system, but the same go.

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One of the things I read about was how the makers of the show wanted to depict Cairo in a more realistic manner and they wanted your music to convey a city that never sleeps and not the traditional mysterious sound we’re accustomed to. How did you go about achieving this vision?

That just came out naturally, because that’s what it is. Cairo is a huge urban city that never sleeps. And for me, someone who has lived in Cairo for the last twenty-five years, it’s not a difficult job to capture the essence of the city. It’s vibrant, it’s vast, it’s noisy in so many good ways. I just had to let it out naturally. It’s hard to stop it and not let it out. It’s in me naturally. It’s great to show off Cairo in the show the way it is. Because, for someone who has never been in the city, you might have something completely different in mind towards the look and feel of the city. There’s so much layer upon layer upon layer of culture and history – ancient Egyptian, the Islamic era and the modern era. It’s an ancient city, vast, that has everything in it and it never sleeps. It’s always on.

How does your score represent the characters of Marc, Steven, and Moon Knight?

Marc Spector and Steven Grant are two sides of the same coin. They both believe they are controlled by Khonsu. Now, the personality disorder that Marc is having is a really big angle for me to tackle because musically it’s a good way to make the audience relate to the character. The magnitude of the task assigned to him by Khonsu and the task of conjuring himself as an Egyptian god is huge. It’s big. So, the moment he summons the suit as he says and gains the power bestowed upon him by Khonsu. He’s not like Spider-Man, he’s not enjoying the task. You can tell from the situations that he’s not the usual superhero that goes and does the normal thing. He’s always having to do the most unusual task.

His quest has weight, it’s not all about fun. He’s not your usual superhero. Moon Knight is special because he’s suffering from associative identity disorder, yet he summons the suit for dramatic purposes. Not just fighting the villains.

At some point you relate to Steven and you want to stay with him. And other times you relate to Marc and you want to stay with him, and you understand his point of view of him. And then you understand Khonsu himself. That’s the beauty of the storyline. You don’t take sides. You just relate to the three of them. That’s what made me like the story is that I was able to love all three characters. They’re 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 on this project that you hadn’t tried before?

It was all new to me. I had never written a score for a character who transforms into a superhero. Although I’ve seen it in countless shows before, you feel like you’re used to it. But once you get your hands on it and try it, it’s like, “Wow, this is new.” Even the dynamism of the storyline is so dynamic, I’m not used to it.

I decided to write the main theme for the character in a way that’s very close to the three of them – to Marc, to Steven and Moon Knight. I believe Moon Knight sums up all three of them. He’s the key aspect of the triangle. He’s the sum of all three. That might be how everyone views it, but that’s what I had in my head while I was writing the score.

When you add the three of them up musically, you end up having the Moon Knight. So, this is how I had it all in my mind.

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So, speaking of Khonsu, I heard you visited the real Khonsu’s tomb in Luxor, Egypt. Is that correct?

yeah, yeah! It was just a coincidence. I was not supposed to travel to Luxor. I had to do it in a very uncomfortable circumstance. I was so tired, and the time was so tight. I had to fly in the morning and get back the same day. One-hour flight, but it was okay. I knew I was going to visit a huge temple in Luxor. I’ve never been there. It was my first time. But the temple was just magical. It was a magical moment for me. I was like, “Oh wow, I must’ve been brought here for a reason.” It’s an amazing place. And guess what, it was full moon as well! It was quite something. It was all meant to be.

This is why I think I relate to Moon Knight. I may not have put it the right way when I said he was not enjoying the experience. He’s unusual, Moon Knight, in so many good ways. In so many dramatic ways that help me, of course. The more emotions he carries, the more musicality I’ll be able to bring to him and Marc and Steven.

What do you ultimately want audiences to feel when they hear your score for Moon Knight?

I want them to enjoy the show as much as I did. I want them to enjoy the ride – it’s a great ride. I also wanted them to hear something that sounded Egyptian and not like someone trying to mimic Egyptian music. Especially the instrumentation and the behavior and the instruments. And also, I tried to make the authentic Egyptian elements sit comfortably within the orchestra – brass strings, double wings, big choir. I wanted all of this to sit together with the Egyptian instruments comfortably and naturally. So, all of this is what made Moon Knightor at least how I envisioned him in my head.

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