Stage fright deterred the young, music-loving Jordan Gagne from joining a band, but the alternative path of composing for the screen has paid off, big-time; he’s now in major demand in the Los Angeles TV and film community, and has contributed to the scores of such high-profile and critically-acclaimed series as Star Trek: Picard, Fargo, and The Night Of.

Alberta-born and raised, Gagne first studied in the University of Alberta’s avant-garde music composition program. “After graduating there, I did a Masters degree at Berklee, in its one-year Scoring for Film and Television program,” he says. “Fresh from that, I moved to Los Angeles in 2013, on a one-way ticket. On my tourist visa, I had six months to find work. The plan for many budding composers here is to intern for someone, and maybe you’ll get paid after a while, and that turns into a job.”

In a big break, Gagne was accepted as an intern for prominent composer Jeff Russo. “At first, it was that stereotypical situation where I’d fetch coffee, wrap cables, et cetera,” he recalls. “After about four years with him, Jeff began co-crediting our work together, and we collaborated on composing for shows. A couple of years later, it was time for me to leave the nest.”

Jordan Gagne, The Rookie, theme

Select the image to play the YouTube video of Jordan Gagne’s closing theme for The Rookie

During this period with Russo, Gagne was able to contribute to the scores of the aforementioned  series.  “As a viewer, The Night Of was one of the favourite shows I’ve ever worked on,” says Gagne. “To clarify, I wasn’t the composer on it, but I did write some additional music. When they’d send us a link to download a new episode, the whole studio would be excited to sit down and watch it!”

Other series that Gagne contributed to, with Russo, include Waco, The Passage, Treadstone, Altered Carbon, and Brave New World.

The hit ABC series The Rookie is the show that has really boosted his profile. “It’s by far the longest series I’ve worked on,” says Gagne, who’s scored all six seasons of the hit show. “I’ve catalogued of all the cues I’ve written for it, and that’s now 28 hours, and over 1,116 tracks of music. That’s crazy when you think about it. If you’re a band, you may write an album over two years, and that’s 45 minutes.”

Continuing work on The Rookie and the second season of The Recruit on Netflix are Gagne’s current major projects. “Getting a second season to work on is like the Holy Grail,” he notes. “On a first season, things may only really come together by episode five or six. If the series gets cancelled, you haven’t really done much with it. If you get to Season Two, you’ve already set up the musical language so it is far less stressful.”

Status as an in-demand screen composer makes it difficult for Gagne to pursue his parallel solo career, but he’s nonetheless released five neo-classical instrumental albums. These aren’t minimal home recording projects either, as he’s worked with an orchestra at Abbey Road for 2017’s Mistakes Made Carefully, and with the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra on 2015’s Objects In Motion.

“With solo albums, you can truly write music for yourself, and I find that liberating,” says Gagne. “Film composers must accept that you have to answer to the showrunner, the director, the production company, or the network. Your job is to be creative, while operating within a set of constraints that changes with each project. Even if you write the best, most moving, most detailed piece of music you’ve ever written, if the key person doesn’t like it – or if it doesn’t work to picture – then it’s wrong for the project.”

Moving forward, Gagne would love to find some work in his homeland. “Moving to L.A. right after my studies meant I never made any connections in the Canadian film and TV industry, so I’ve never worked on a project there,” he says. “I’d relish that opportunity.”