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The Composers Behind “Stranger Things” (Video)

Stranger Things Composers

Check out this video posted by Vanity Fair where they interviewed the composers for “Stranger Things” on Netflix. There are some really interesting tidbits in here, and the way they fell into being film composers just goes to show that if you do what you love, anything can happen.

Follow the link below!

Stranger Voicings

One of the things that really struck me about this peek behind the scenes at their process is the way they create their unique sound for the show. Racks upon racks of vintage analog gear litter their studio!

Check out his post about building your music studio at any budget

Choosing the right voices for your film score is paramount for setting the right mood, but also for placing the film in a certain period. In this case, all the analog synths put the sonic world of the soundtrack right smack in the middle of the eighties, when the series takes place.

Imagine if the composers had instead gone for the polished, computer-generated synths available today – it would have felt like a completely different world, and wouldn’t have fit the story as well.

Check out my video series on choosing the right voices for your score (coming soon!).

Sampled Things

In addition to the synthesizers, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein also mention utilizing different samples. The one that stood out was a “broken piano” that they recorded on set with a field recorder. Back in the studio, they turned that recording into a sample that they could use as a percussive element for “jump scares” in the show.

Another reason to always be listening for unique sounds that may have a place in a film score some day!

Origin Story

“Stranger Things” composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein weren’t film composers when they were hired to write the score for the Netflix show. Instead, they were frontmen in the band “Survive.”

The directors, the Duffer Brothers, had been using their tracks as temp music  in the edit, and loved their sound and musical sensibilities. After a single phone call, the bandmates were suddenly composers.

In this video, they talk about how writing a song is much different than writing for picture. The structure is different, and common song frameworks don’t mesh well in film. However, letting the story and edit timings drive the rhythm and structure of the music does work well.

Read more about composing for picture and finding the right timings in my eBook (coming soon!).


The story of Dixon and Stein is an inspiring one, because it goes to show that even if you’re fairly new to composing music for film (or television, or Netflix…), you can have great success. They went from playing in a fairly obscure band to winning an Emmy award and being nominated for two Grammy awards.

I think the one of the keys to their success is that they let the story influence their music. They chose the voices that fit the overall aesthetic of the show, and used them to enhance the characters’ emotions. Plus, they absolutely nailed the opening theme!

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