Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works and select commentaries from some of the score’s most essential tracks.
The Star Trek universe is a franchise with decades of musical legacy, from the original Alexander Courage fanfare to Jerry Goldsmith’s nautical bombast for The Motion Picture, all the way to Michael Giacchino’s sweeping work on the J.J. Abrams films. But Paramount+’s animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks, which follows the bottom-rung officers on the support ship the USS Cerritos, doesn’t stray from that formula to go for the laughs.
Instead, composer Chris Westlake chose to lean into Trek’s innate musical majesty, crafting a score that’s just as big — if not bigger — than some of the other entries in the franchise’s canon. It’s new Trek, constantly referencing the old Trek, but taking the exploits of the Cerritos as seriously as those of the USS Enterprise.
Westlake has worked for decades on films like Before We Go, also offering additional music for trailers for Star Wars and films like Believe. And for Lower Decks, he and showrunner (and close friend) Mike McMahan knew they needed to build a suitably Trekkian soundscape for the show, rather than pointing out the gags innate to the series’ irreverence to the final frontier.
Together, we talk about boosting the laughs by taking Trek music seriously, his own history with the franchise’s musical soundscapes, and figuring out exactly what Klingon death metal sounds like. (Plus, you’ll get exclusive commentary from Westlake on how his iconic theme for the show came together.)
You can find Chris Westlake on his official website here.
All three seasons to date of Star Trek: Lower Decks are currently streaming on Paramount+. You can also listen to the score on vinyl or your preferred music streaming service, courtesy of Lakeshore Records.