Soundtrack: <I>Immigration Nation</I>
Issue: May/June 2021

Soundtrack: Immigration Nation

Composer Jeremy Turner created the original score for the six-part Netflix documentary series Immigration Nation. The series, from Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz, offers a nuanced view of the ongoing struggles in America’s broken immigration system. 

“There are few projects that come around where you know ahead of time, before the first notes are written, that it will have a profound effect on you personally,” says Turner. “And while you can try to simply perform the job you’ve been hired to do, to score the story, to compose and develop musical themes for characters; you can’t avoid the harsh reality that those very characters and circumstances you’re seeing on screen are real.”

The docuseries follows US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers on raids, at detention centers and attempting to integrate with local law enforcement. Viewers see the drama firsthand, and the score depicts the tension and fear seen on-screen. 

Turner scored the project almost like a horror film to match the devastating and unfortunate reality that many have been oblivious to. The revelations in the doc are uncomfortable and the audience feels the heaviness of the high stakes circumstances so many in this country have been subjected to. Ultimately, 5.5 hours of music was created using a combination of overlaid cellos, percussion, gong scrapes & scratches and more.

“I wrote and performed the score for Immigration Nation in a vacuum of sorts, since it was completed during the early months of the pandemic where I was alone for long stretches of time,” Turner recalls. “But when you witness a child being pulled from their parents, a deported Marine risking everything to remain in the country they love, or a family being re-united after years spent apart, you can’t really sit in your cozy studio and complain about anything. It was a true honor to be involved in this project, to make sure that the people in these stories were seen and heard.” 

Aside from Immigration Nation, Turner is also in Emmy contention this season for his epic main title theme for the Disney+ docuseries  Marvel’s 616, which is orchestral, heroic and cinematic.