Dustin O’Halloran’s theme for Amazon’s stunning original series Transparent is so simple and aching that it’s one of the few theme songs (we’re looking at you, OOrange Is the New Black) that we don’t mind hearing over and over again during binge-watching sessions.
And O’Halloran’s piece – the first of his extensive soundtrack work he’s been nominated for; more on that later – would seem extraordinary, were the rest of his discography not strewn with similar gems.
O’Halloran started playing piano when he was 7 years old and remains self-taught. He met Sara Lov at Santa Monica College and the pair formed Dévics, a dreamy, melancholic pop group who recorded five full-lengths and three EPs before drifting apart. (You can see them perform their song “Key” in a fifth-season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)
O’Halloran’s big break came when Sofia Coppola, having heard some of his solo piano work, decided to put some of his music in 2006’s Marie Antoinette.
From there, O’Halloran continued to contribute pieces to film and television, before eventually being approached by Transparent creator Jill Soloway.
“Jill was listening a lot to my second album, Piano Solos Vol. 2, when she was writing the script,” he told Entertainment Weekly in July. Given that he’d already contributed bits to the show’s score, “It just seemed to make sense that I should do the theme.”
“When they sent me the main title clip,” O’Halloran explained, “it’s a beautiful clip of this old nostalgic VHS footage. They were trying a lot of different pieces of music, and it was actually the second piece I tried with those images. There’s a sense of nostalgia to the show – memories and family moments – and we wanted to capture that feeling.”
O’Halloran’s theme made him an early 2015 Emmy Awards winner: He already snagged honors for Main Title Theme Music trophy – his first nomination.