Comedy Central's Broad City centers around two twenty-something white women living in New York City, but it's not a Brooklyn show or a hotbed for indie rock. "I think there is a misconception that New York young people are just automatically from Brooklyn now," says the show's music supervisor Matt "FX" Feldman, a 22-year-old native New Yorker. "I think Girls, not to single them out, they come off to me as a Brooklyn show. Greenpoint is a character in Girls."
"In Broad City, New York City is a character," says Feldman.
Each episode of the web-series turned half-hour television show, which just began its second season and is already renewed for a third, shows a day in the weird and wonderful world of co-protagonists Abbi Abrams (played by Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer), two best friends (in fiction and real-life) navigating life in New York City to a heavily hip-hop and electronic influenced soundtrack. Abbi lives in Astoria, Ilana in Gowanus, and most of their days are spent in the many areas in between, hurriedly navigating the struggle bus that is the subway system, trudging to the "vapid wasteland" of the Upper East Side to recover a lost phone, barely surviving Penn Station or journing all the way to North Brother Island to recover a package.
The music acts like another character, guiding Abbi and Ilana from borough to borough. "Upper East Side? Lets get some Vivaldi in there," Feldman says of trying to work the varying neighborhoods into the music, "There is a bit in Chinatown, now I've got to find a beat with a pan flute or a Chinese string violin."
There are a few bigger music moments in the series, in a glorious scene this season, Abbi danced naked to Lady Gaga's "Edge Of Glory," Gaga approves.
A Season One episode opened with Abbi and Ilana in a dream sequence paying homage to Missy Elliott's video for "The Rain [Supa Dupa Fly]" (Abbi suits up in a garbage bag to cash a check), but the scene isn't set to a Timbaland beat, it's Drake's "Started from the Bottom." It isn't a totally logical choice, but the scene just works. Plus, it was also Missy Elliot approved
"It's very important to remember that this is the girls' world," says Feldman. "This is not our world."
The most interesting music in the series are the beats used for short but impactful scene transitions. "It's cool how four instances of three seconds can totally change how you feel about 22 minutes," says Feldman.
For these moments, Feldman taps an eclectic mix of pre-existing tracks, demos and custom music mostly from emergin producers and rappers. Episode Eight of Season One, where the characters rush to try and make it to a wedding outside the city, is soundtracked entirely by RJD2 including custom compositions. In the third episode of Season Two, PHOTAY, an electronic musician from New York, also provides custom music to a series of "dream-like sequences in the episode". Many of the transition beats throughout the series come from artists and producers like Hot Sugar (NYC producer Nick Koenig, who made a custom mix of his music from Broad City) who pass Feldman 20 or 30 tracks to consider. "You'd be surprised how many of [the transitions] are considered demos in the people who made them's ears," says Feldman.
Feldman admits he stumbled into music supervision "by accident." After being introduced to Bryan Elsley, the creator of the U.K. drama Skins, by a friend of a friend, he sent Elsley a playlist and was asked to "quit his day job" to supervise the music for both the U.K. and U.S. versions of Skins -- at age 19. He met the Broad City cast and crew through a former production assistant on Skins. He's also currently supervising the recently premiered FXX comedy Man Seeking Woman. "It;s such a different humor from Broad City, I'm grateful to be working on such different comedies."
Feldman also records him own music as Scooter Island and is releasing what he describes as a "Gorillaz-y" album later this year, some of which started out as transition beats on Broad City that he worked with various collaborators to turn into full tracks. Two of the album's tracks in turn will be in this season of the show, one of whitch premiered on last night's episode of Broad City, "#NOTYOURS Feat. Junglepussy."
"The girls heard it not even knowing they were my tracks and two ended up in the show," says Feldman.
We asked Feldman to put together a playlist of what he's listening to right now, including some of the artists featured in Broad City and Man Seeking Woman:
Azealia Banks, "Desperado" - Favorite track off the record, easily. This is basically my winter song; every time I get off the train and into the cold, it's the first thing I wanna listen too.
Maxo, "Not That Bad (ft. GOFTY)" Maxo is absolutely crushing it right now, to take a term from Broad City's Lincoln (Hannibal Buress). This track was released by PC Music, the best of the best in today's avant-pop.
Tomas Barfod, "Broken Glass" - Really beautiful tune off of the Friends of Friends 5 year anniversary compilation, other tracks of which made it into our new season of Broad City.
Maramza, "Cut the Cake (ft. Moonchild)" - Incredible track from Naas Music, a burgeoning South African label run by mad-genius THOR RIXON.
Recloose, "Dust (ft. Joe Dukie)" - not exactly a new song (apparently Gilles Peterson named it the song of 2005) but one that I heard for the first time while dancing away at the 'Sin Salida' secret stage last year at Mysteryland. Would love if it this vibe came back! So fitting for today's landscape, in a strange way.
Taro, "First Born Son / Price of Love" - Taro is a rapper that is 100% real and true, as far as hip-hop goes. He raps on two tracks on the Scooter Island record, but is actually putting out his debut EP next week! Love the vibes on this.
Rome Fortune, "Friends Maybe (ft. ILOVEMAKONNEN)" - My girlfriend's younger brother actually showed this to us this song when he was in town staying with us, and she's been singing it everyday since. Would love to work with Rome & Makonnen one day - their songwriting sensibilities are totally on the money, and they definitely seem like a couple of characters!
Boy/Friend, "I Do That" - Love this dude; really appreciate the fusion of old school rnb sentiment with 2015's obsession with self awareness. This song has me feeling sexy and cracking up all at the same time, two very worth feelings. Actually premiered an unreleased track of his through Man Seeking Woman!
ONWE, "FOMO" - ONWE Just put out an incredible record that I've been digesting over the last couple weeks
Redlight, "9TS" - For me this is very much the spiritual successor to Breach's 'Jack'; an essential dj tool / talk-house jam that lights the dancefloor on fire every time it's dropped!