Night Teeth: Interview with composers Ian and Sofia Hultquist

NIGHT TEETH (2021)Jorge Lengeborg Jr. as Benny and Lucy Fry as Zoe.Cr: Kat Marcinowski/NETFLIX
NIGHT TEETH (2021)Jorge Lengeborg Jr. as Benny and Lucy Fry as Zoe.Cr: Kat Marcinowski/NETFLIX /

1428 Elm interviewed Ian Hultquist and Sofia degli Alessandri-Hultquist (Sofia is also known as Drum & Lace), composers for Netflix’s recent vampire-action horror film, Night Teeth.  We asked them what ideas and processes went into creating music for Night Teeth. Adam Randall directed Night Teeth, which stars Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Debby Ryan, Lucy Fry, Raúl Castillo, Alfie Allen, Alexander Ludwig, Sydney Sweeney and Megan Fox.

Interview with Night Teeth composers Ian Hultquist and Sofia degli Alessandri-Hultquist

1428 ELM: Did any custom synth modules shape the score of Night Teeth?

SOFIA HULTQUIST: In Night Teeth, we used a handful of modular (eurorack) synths and a slew of keyboard synths on the score. The eurorack modules used the most throughout the score were: Noise Engineering BIA, Qu-Bit Data Bender, Surface and Prism, and Mutable Instruments Plaits and Rings.

The most obvious use was for “Jay’s Theme,” whose driving synth was a mix of these. Other keyboard synths we used included Moog Model-D, Waldorf Quantum (using a custom-made sound, utilizing my voice), Sequential Prophet 6 and our old pal, the Roland Juno-106. We also used quite a bit of “in the box” plug-ins, so the score is a nice mix of analog and digital synths.

1428 ELM: What are your favorite genres to dabble in when composing?

SOFIA HULTQUIST: Lately, I’ve actually found myself really enjoying working within the horror/drama genres, as they seem to work with my personal sonic inclinations. In my opinion, they also often allow for more experimentation when it comes to melodic and tonal (or not) ideas, and I’m excited to keep working within this musical space.

IAN HULTQUIST: I love films with a large scale, either emotionally or visually. Anything that allows us to mimic that with the music. Night Teeth was a perfect mix of horror, comedy, romance—it’s got a little bit of everything!

Night Teeth and sleek vampire fashions

Night Teeth
Drum & Lace headshot – Courtesy Priscilla Chavez Scott /

1428 ELM: What are your thoughts on how movie trailers shape perceptions of films?

IAN HULTQUIST: That’s an interesting question! I watch a lot of trailers and always notice when there is a particular trend that starts to appear in them. Either every trailer is set to a dark, gritty cover of an old song, or all of them have a very rhythmic feel set to gunshots or punches. They can feel quite similar after a while. It’s always nice and surprising when a film can get away with having somewhat of a vague trailer that doesn’t give the plot away and still get an audience interested. Those films usually tend to be the most rewarding.

1428 ELM: The new horror film Night Teeth is set in a world of vampires where everything from slang to fashion to haircuts is quite stylish. How did the visual aesthetic of the film inspire your music?

SOFIA HULTQUIST: The way the film looks is fantastic, and I think it deeply influenced and informed how we approach the score. There is a sleekness to the film that we felt we needed to translate into music, which we interpreted as needing a big, bold, and unique sound that also had to feel super polished and clean.

Another keyword that we thought about too was to make the music sound modern, along the lines of what this movie’s vampire take was. We worked hard to create music that sounded big and produced while still keeping some analog touches and grit. Having your score playing and working underneath the beautiful visuals from this film was a real treat.

IAN HULTQUIST: Eben Bolter did such an incredible job as a cinematographer on this film. It was a joy to come into the studio every day and have these images up on our screen.

1428 ELM: Did filmmaker Adam Randall give you free rein to design the score for Night Teeth?

IAN HULTQUIST: Yes and no. Adam very much had a distinct vision of what he was after with the score, and we did our best to honor that. However, we got to play in our sandbox of sounds and toys and make the score our own.

SOFIA HULTQUIST: Adam helped us craft the score as it is now, and what was helpful, as Ian mentioned, is that he knew what he liked and didn’t when he heard it. Our most significant (and most welcome) challenge was to have the score be propulsive and have a bit of a nod to older 80/90s hip-hop but making it sound of the moment as sleek as the characters in the film.

1428 ELM: The score has a vintage 80’s dark synth-pop sound while still having a distinctly underground, urban Los Angeles sound. How were you able to pay homage to the glorious things of the past while adding a modern and edgy twist?

SOFIA HULTQUIST: That’s awesome you picked up on that, as it was definitely something we were aware of while working. Working with analog machines with an inherent vintage hiss and warmth to them, coupled with newer digital synths and VST, really helped bridge the gap between vintage and modern scores.

Yes, we wanted to give a nod to earlier hip-hop and synth-pop, and Adam mentioned artists such as MF Doom as being very big influences for him. I think that we did particularly with the drum programming, sample selection, and use of synths. Bringing in the modular synths, sampled vocals, and more modern production chops rounded out some of the more old-school sounding influences we may have had.

IAN HULTQUIST: It was a fun challenge finding the right approach to writing a heavy-synth score, but without having it sound too dated. I think that we also incorporated all the genres & sounds that Sofia mentioned helped us keep everything fresh.

night teeth
Ian Hultquist headshot /

Editing the music

1428 ELMM: How long did it take to write the music in Night Teeth?

IAN HULTQUIST: I originally demoed for the film in May 2020, but due to the pandemic and schedule shifts, we weren’t officially brought on board until late February 2021. I think the bulk of our work started in March, and we were finishing everything up by late June, early July. So roughly three months, give or take.

1428 ELM:  Did the tone of the soundtrack/score make you excited to get further into the editing process? 

SOFIA HULTQUIST: For sure. We had to step up our editing and production skills to work on this score, as we wanted it to sound as good as we could. And as big as we could without leaning into orchestral elements.

Most of the score only had a few revisions, but we did have a few cues that went into more revisions, and for the most part, it was a matter of fine-tuning what was there and getting nitty-gritty with programming, rounding out sounds, and cleaning things up.

IAN HULTQUIST: There were a few moments in the film where they had a song that was mostly working but just needed a little extra push to help sell it. So we ended up writing a few pieces of “score overlay” that actually played over the songs. It’s a really fun thing to do, as you are adding additional production to a song and helping make it feel glued into the film.

1428 ELM: What were the initial meetings where you discussed the musical direction for Night Teeth?

SOFIA HULTQUIST: Night Teeth is very music-heavy, both score and needle-drop-wise, so we had to split our virtual spottings into a few sessions to be able to have time to cover and ingest everything! From the start, though, it felt like everyone had a pretty clear idea of what they wanted for the score, on Adam’s, the Producer’s, and Netflix’s side.

We spent a few weeks figuring out exactly what the right palette would be. For example, I think Ian and I leaned a bit too heavily into horror instead of playing a bit more into the action and levity that the score ultimately needed. It was great to work with a team of folks that were so dedicated to music!

1428 ELM:  What are your favorite horror films and TV shows?

IAN HULTQUIST: I’ve always drifted towards the horror genre. Even starting early as a kid with things like Are You Afraid of the Dark and Ernest Scared Stupid. Then I got super into the whole late 90’s/early 2000’s films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, etc. I just love a suspenseful ambiance!

SOFIA HULTQUIST: The horror I tend to like is the type that doesn’t let me sleep at night, so for me, it’s usually all or nothing. Some horror films that shaped my adolescence were classics like The Omen trilogy, Rosemary’s Baby, and Suspiria (Dario Argento‘s), all three of which I still think of pretty often. Lately, I’ve really enjoyed horror more along the lines of The Invisible Man and Us. The scariest thing I’ve seen recently is a French Netflix show Marianne by director Samuel Bodin.

Next. 26 horror movies we're excited to see in 2022. dark

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Night Teeth is now streaming on Netflix.