1428 Elm: In a film like that one, it’s very evident that music plays a large role in amping up the suspense and the jump scares. There’s a very large portion of the film that has no dialogue, only background sounds and a little bit of voiceover. What are the challenges that come with creating music with sequences like that?
MJ: Well, music becomes…barring Dylan’s father, who makes a couple of appearances…music becomes kind of a leading role, that was kind of the understanding from the onset. We sat down to talk about how important it was going to be, and I think you’re very correct, the movie is carried by…it almost, dare I say…it’s almost weird, because it’s clearly not violent, but it plays as if it’s a violent film at times because he can’t talk. He does such a fantastic job.
1428 Elm: Oh, he’s great!
MJ: Yeah, Ezra is amazing, he’s got a bright future, just what he could do with his face and his reactions as a little kid! I think the hardest part for me with the music was; well, (directors) Justin and David, they know film like you wouldn’t believe.
Even film score, and the way they want it, so it’s interesting to see how we worked it all out because it’s like this long, dynamic feathering in of all the elements. It’s not like a Back to the Future action epic, orchestral score or something like that, but it was difficult because I came off of something like that earlier this year.
It was kind of an apocalypse comedy movie, which Back to the Future was totally the inspiration for that score. So you can imagine, coming from total chaos, like running, winding lines and going from that, this was an experiment in a total exercise in restraint.
Especially the opening sequences, we had three minutes in the opening scene, and we have to wait ‘til we get to that for the mom in the kitchen. It was like, really? Alright. But it works, that was what was cool about it. For me, that was the difficult part, to come in and really slowly turn on the gas and heat the thing up, and that was great, it was a challenge.
1428 Elm: Now, beyond strumming a little bit of guitar, I’m not really a musician, but it seemed like there was almost an 80s vibe to some of your music. It had that synthesizer feel to it.
MJ: Yeah, I don’t think even a little bit. I don’t think we’re trying to hide that from anybody. I fear sometimes we’re gonna get knocked around in reviews for being too Carpenter-esque.
1428 Elm: Oh, no, no. I’ve been a horror nerd for as long as I can remember, but Halloween was one of the first horror movies that really grabbed me. So I appreciate the homage.
MJ: That’s the best, I mean, there’s really nothing better than that theme. It still works too, even in the new Zombie one, they still use it, and it makes sense. It IS Michael Meyers.