×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Stranger Things 2’ Composers Kyle Dixon, Michael Stein on Show’s Supernatural Sounds

The sounds of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have grown scarier as the show that they score has grown stranger.

Since composing the score for the first season of “Stranger Things,” Dixon and Stein have toured with their synth band Survive (which includes two additional members) across the U.S. and Europe, including stops at festivals ranging from Coachella to Primavera Sound. Survive also released its second studio album, “RR7349,” in September 2016. Now that “Stranger Things 2” has been released, the Emmy-winning, Grammy-nominated duo discusses with Variety how they will keep the experimental sounds coming for a season of spooks.

Dixon says they ended up making so many “supernatural” and “demonic” sounds, that they came up with the idea to release a Halloween album. As a result, the deluxe edition of the “Stranger Things 2” original score soundtrack includes 15 additional songs billed as a bonus album of “Halloween sounds.”

“We incorporated some old and new techniques. We progressed the music to have more drive and action,” Stein says. “We incorporated more traditional horror instruments, like the waterphone, and blended them into electronic sounds.”

The concept of “uncanny valley” seeps into much of their songwriting for the show, Dixon says. “It references robots and AI,” he explains. “There’s a point when something looks so real and sounds so real, that it’s almost convincing, but there’s something fundamentally not right about it and you can’t quite tell what it is. It’s not human, but it’s so close to being human that it scares you. Sounds that are almost human, or kind of like voices or a baby crying or an animal, but a bit weirder … those end up making some of the scariest songs.”

Dixon recalls being introduced to many of the dark sounds that he dabbles in through ’90s hip hop music. “A lot of the rap that I like samples older songs that gravitate toward darker, sadder-sounding songs,” he says. Stein is a huge fan of John Carpenter and says that he admires “how Carpenter uses dissonance and makes it kind of catchy.”

Below, the musicians pick the tunes for their ideal Halloween playlist.

Clara Rockmore — “Nocturne in C Minor”

“This piece was originally composed by Chopin. Clara Rockmore, one of the first people to learn how to play the theremin. It sounds vocal, but it’s an electronic instrument.”

Skatt Bros. — “Walk the Night”

“A creeper jam for sure.”

Steve Moore – “The Henge / Ascension”

“Halfway between totally spooky and danceable.”

69 Boyz — “Pass the Pussy”

“It samples John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ theme. It’s just a great song.”

Survive

“That’s a pretty good Halloween one.”

Dixon and Stein will perform the music of “Stranger Things” live at the Ace Hotel Theatre in Los Angeles on Nov. 8. They will exclusively play music from the show (not the music of Survive), but not in the order one might expect. They say they will spice up the show with some improv and visuals, too.

The “Stranger Things 2” soundtrack deluxe edition, which includes the Halloween bonus album, is available now on Apple Music. Below, view the tour schedule for Dixon and Stein’s live performances of the music of “Stranger Things.”

Nov. 3 – Toronto Unsound, Toronto, CAN
Nov. 8 – The Ace Hotel Theatre, Los Angeles, USA
April 3, 2018 – Barts, Barcelona, SP
April 5, 2018 – BRDCST Festival, Brussels, BE
April 6, 2018 – Rewire Festival, The Hague, NL
April 7, 2018 – Barbican, London, UK

More TV

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Whiskey Tango Cavalier

    TV Review: 'Whiskey Cavalier'

    The crux of “Whiskey Cavalier” can be found right in its protagonist’s name. “Will Chase” is a purposefully ridiculous wink of a name that tries to be both debonair and very silly all at once, just like the FBI agent (played by Scott Foley) to which it belongs. This isn’t a regular spy drama, “Whiskey [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Malik Yoba to Reprise Role in 'New York Undercover' Reboot at ABC

    Malik Yoba, who starred as Detective J.C. Williams in the 90s show “New York Undercover,” is set to reprise the role in the ABC reboot, sources tell Variety. Picking up 20 years after the end of the original series, “New York Undercover” will follow detectives Nat Gilmore and Melissa Ortiz as they investigate the city’s [...]

  • Chris Burrous dead KTLA anchor

    KTLA Anchor Chris Burrous' Cause of Death Released

    An investigative report on KTLA anchor Chris Burrous has determined that his cause of death was attributed to methamphetamine toxicity, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Burrous, 43, was found unconscious at a motel in Glendale, Calif on December 27, and later died at the hospital. The death has been ruled as accidental. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER: Rabbit in the

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of Feb. 11: 'Masked Singer' Easily Tops Competition

    Fox’s “The Masked Singer” was the highest-rated broadcast show of the week in both Live+Same Day and Live+3. For the week of Feb. 11, the unscripted singing competition series went from a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 to a 3.4, a rise of 42%. In total viewers, the show went from 7.8 million viewers to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content