Out Take: Joy Ngiaw

Joy Ngiaw


Website: joyngiaw.com

Contact: [email protected]

Most Recent: Glamorous

Award-winning composer Joy Ngiaw’s music can be heard in Blush, Short Circuit: Jing Hua, Rescued by Ruby, and now, Netflix’s Glamorous, starring Kim Cattrall and non-binary performer Miss Benny. For the latter, Ngiaw forewent her usual orchestral style for more contemporary, pop influences and experimenting with plug-ins. 

Drawn to projects that prompt nostalgia and connection with characters, the classically trained Ngiaw said Glamorous is a “very special show” that focuses on a wide range of LGBTQ+ experiences and pushed her out of her musical comfort zone. “I’m deeply fascinated by the complexity of human emotions and the range of experiences we can have. It’s beautiful to remember something, whether it’s good or bad, because that shapes who we are. I want my scores to represent a very diverse range of human experiences,” Ngiaw says. 

“In Glamorous there’s lots of light-hearted and comedic moments, but also emotional and tender moments. What drew me to the show was each character has their own storyline, and so often LGBTQ+ characters are side characters or fit a certain mold. This show is really unashamed of showcasing their wide range of experiences: finding their identity, exploring work relationships, family dynamics, love interests. I got excited to write music that humanizes those experiences.” 

Glamorous was also Ngiaw’s first foray into composing for television, which introduced her to a more fast-paced environment. “I think a piece of music is done when I watch the scene, and I’m not noticing my music―only the storyline or characters. When I can just watch it and am completely engrossed.” 

Ngiaw says it’s important for aspiring composers to find films, shows and other projects that speak to them. “Remember, it’s something you’ll work on for a while, so find the project you’re passionate about,” she says. “At that point, let your passion and inspiration take over. And make sure you have a good team―I’ve realized the importance of having a music editor, assistant and additional writers you can count on. They’ll be there when the deadlines are coming close.” •