‘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.”


“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

  • Pablo Guisa, Pablo Cruz, Enrique López

    Morbido, El Estudio Team on Massive Trans-Atlantic Genre Initiative (EXCLUSIVE)

    Trans-Atlantic Spanish-language production powerhouse El Estudio and Mexico’s Morbido Group have joined forces in the largest genre, horror and fantasy production initiative in the Spanish-speaking world. Feature films, series, remakes and reboots of classic IP and even unscripted programming are all part of the plan going forward for El Estudio and Morbido. Already, the companies [...]

  • Wolfsburg

    Italy's Cross Set for Werewolf Immigrant TV Series 'Wolfsburg' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Italy’s Cross Productions, in which Germany’s Beta Film has a stake, is shopping “Wolfsburg,” a high-end TV series which turns on an Italian immigrant who during the 1960s arrives in the German city of Wolfsburg, headquarters of Volkswagen Group, and morphs into a murderous werewolf. The innovative skein, now in advanced development, is being set up [...]

  • Lincoln Younes

    'Lost Boys' Pilot at CW Casts Lincoln Younes in Kiefer Sutherland Role

    The CW’s revamped (get it?) “Lost Boys” pilot has cast one of its lead roles. Lincoln Younes has been cast in the series as Benjamin, the charismatic leader of the gang of vampires in a seemingly idyllic North Carolina seaside town. Younes’ role is most similar to the role of David in the 1987 film [...]

  • Gary Levine and Jana Winograde Showtime

    Showtime, HBO Broaden Scope as Parent Companies Aim to Grow Their Audiences

    For years, the halo around premium cablers such as HBO and Showtime has been integral to their branding. Their parent companies in a past life — Time Warner and CBS, respectively — seemed to be content with the tens of millions of subscribers each had accumulated. But now, shepherded by new corporate owners — AT&T’s [...]

  • Josh Brolin Dune

    Josh Brolin to Lead Amazon Drama Series 'Outer Range'

    Josh Brolin has found his next role. The “Avengers” and “No Country for Old Men” star has signed on to play the lead role in “Outer Range,” a thriller which received a series order at Amazon. The show was announced as part of the TV overall deal that Amazon signed with Brad Pitt’s Plan B [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content