Juan Carlos Enriquez is an award-winning composer who has worked on features, streaming series and video games. In 2021, he was selected to participate in the Recording Academy's Grammy Next Program, which aims to identify and empower the next generation of music industry leaders. His original music for the Ubisoft video gameFar Cry 6 received a BAFTA nomination for Best Music in 2022. Other recent work includes original music for Peacock’s Spanish-language series
Till Jail Do Us Part, which follows the story of four women who are trying to cope with their husbands being linked to the same criminal organization. Here, he shares insight into his career and work as a composer.
Juan Carlos, tell us a bit about your background?
“I am originally from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, which has a very musically-rich community and culture (the land of Mariachi music) and decided to pursue a career in the film music industry when I was in high school after being in love with both filmmaking and music. I used to make short films with friends and play in rock bands.
“I then moved to the US to study film scoring at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, and right after graduating, I flew straight to Los Angeles to pursue my aspirations in the industry.
“My first job in the industry was being an intern for a film and TV composer, which then transitioned into a full-time assistant role. I lasted a few months in that role. I then was hired by Pedro Bromfman, a Brazilian composer who has been a big supporter of mine throughout the years — both personally and professionally. I worked with him as his right-hand man and an additional composer on amazing projects such as Netflix’s Narcos (Seasons 1-3), movies like Robocop (the 2014 reboot), and video games such as EA’s Need for Speed: Heat and Ubisoft’s Far Cry 6.
“For a while, I also jumped around on different established composer writing teams as an additional composer and/or music arranger on projects such as Universal’s Furious 7, Fate of the Furious; Sony’s The Girl In The Spider’s Web (produced by David Fincher), and Netflix’s animation Maya and the Three (produced by Jorge R. Gutierrez).
“My music career has also exposed me to the advertisement industry, and this year I had the honor of being awarded two bronze Clio Music awards for my music work on a trailer starring Cristo Fernandez (Ted Lasso) for the video game Forza Horizon 5, produced by Microsoft.
“Most recently, I finished scoring an upcoming Netflix show called The Secret of the Greco Family, which is a moody, dark and tense crime drama about kidnapping set in the ‘80s in Mexico based on real-life events.”
How did you get involved with Till Jail Do Us Part?
“Through some good luck, I was recommended to the producers to be considered as a composer for another project they were working on. I did not end up getting that project, but the producers were impressed enough with my work and past credits that they invited me to demo for Till Jail Do Us Part, which was another show they had in the works. I was asked to present a proposal for the main titles and a few key scenes based on the script of the first three episodes. Thankfully, everyone on the creative team, as well as the head producer, Marcos Santana, loved my proposals and I was offered the job.”
What attracted you to this series?
“What attracted me to the show was that it had very smart writing and a kind of comedic style that resonated with me and avoided the usual Latino characters' cliches. It also was a story that takes place in Miami, but showcases a darker side of Miami that is not usually explored in other shows. The show’s mix of comedy, drama and action lends itself to a very rich musical playground that really attracted me and resonated with me as a composer.”
What were the needs of the soundtrack for Till Jail Do Us Part?
“For the show, we had to set the mood of living in a diverse modern-day Miami without falling into the usual cliches. To avoid that, each female lead had its own sonic signature based on their background and personality, and the antagonist’s musical world had to have its own thematic and sonic language that was more underground, tense and menacing. For the main titles and most of the comedy cues in the show, I enlisted an A-list group of musicians ,such as Hal Rosenfeld (Ringo Starr, Hans Zimmer) on drums, Sena Hurley (John Mayer) on bass, Dave Levita (Lana del Rey) on guitars, Katisse Buckingham (Prince) on flutes, and recorded everything live at the iconic Capitol Studios in Hollywood.
“For the main antagonist, which was a family empire of drug lords in Miami, I recorded most instruments myself at my home studio in a very ‘up-close’ manner in order to give it a very organic and rough vibe. Some of the instruments I used for the dark aspects of the score included a Guitarviol, which is a custom-made hybrid between a cello and a guitar that can be played as either, as well as a custom-made giant tongue drum built in Mexico out of a metal trash can nicknamed ‘El Sapo.’ Such unique instruments gave the score a menacing and unusually tense atmosphere.”
What is some of the gear that you rely on?
“Besides recording most of the score at the legendary Capitol Studios, where we used their prized collection of microphones (including the one used by Frank Sinatra) and vintage recording equipment (including their vintage Neve at Studio B), I also recorded a good portion of the soundtrack at my home studio. In my studio, I mainly used a VM-1 Brauner tube microphone going into a DW Fearn VT-1 tube preamp, and two Schoeps CMC6MK4 small diaphragm microphones going into a pair of clean Grace Design m201 preamps.
“All of this went straight into my Universal Audio Apollo x8 modded by Black Lion Audio, which was the front end of everything I recorded live at my studio, which included acoustic and electric guitars, cello, violin, ronroco and upright bass.
“I mixed everything in the box using Cubase Pro 12 as my main DAW, and occasionally I would also use an outboard Rupert Neve Design Portico II Master Buss Processor, and UBK’s Clariphonic M/S to give certain tracks that were a bit more featured an extra push in width, brightness and compression.”
You mentioned creating sonic signatures. What were some of the additional challenges you faced for this project?
“The timeline we had for post production was one of the main challenges we faced due to its relentless and tight delivery schedule for each episode. I had to start planning ahead in terms of the music needs of the show and created a custom internal library of tracks that we were able to pull from to fill in the gaps in our music needs on each episode. Thankfully, I had a solid music team that helped me navigate through the production schedule and meet all our deadlines.”
Can you describe some of the themes and cues that you created for the show?
“I composed a unique theme for each of the main characters, which included the four lead women, a theme for the main cartel leader antagonist and his family, a lost love theme for the main police detective, and an overarching general musical theme (which is featured in the main titles) for the show, which was used for all the funny situations where the women acted together as a team in all these ridiculous and adventurous situations. Creating all these different themes was both super fun and challenging, as we had to differentiate in a special way each character without losing the musical cohesiveness of the show.
“For the main titles, for example, I recorded them at Capitol Studios using vintage gear and vintage instruments, but in a modern production approach with a live string orchestra. Such a stylistic mix gave the main titles a nice atemporal vibe that worked nicely against the production design of the show, which also had a lot of contrasts with vintage visual aesthetics showcased against a modern-day Miami.”
Where can we follow you online?
“You can find more about my work on my website: www.juancarlosenriquez.com. And feel free to reach out and follow me on social media at: www.instagram.com/juan.carlos.enriquez.composer, www.twitter.com/jcenriquez, and www.facebook.com/JuanCarlosEnriquezComposer.”