Interview: Mother/Android composers Michelle Birsky & Kevin Olken Henthorn

Michelle Birsky & Kevin Olke
Michelle Birsky & Kevin Olke /

Hulu’s new sci-fi thriller film, Mother/Androidis a look at a young couple, Georgia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Sam (Algee Smith), struggling to survive an android apocalypse while trying to protect her potential baby! We spoke with the film’s composers, Michelle Birsky & Kevin Olken Henthorn, about scoring the film and about the film’s themes.

Interview with Mother/Android composers Michelle Birsky & Kevin Olken Henthorn

1428 ELM: Mother/Android is almost like a duet of people in conflict. Is there any part of the score that best encapsulates what the film is about?

KEVIN OLKEN HENTHORN: There is a cue midway through the film called “I Would Die For You” where the characters really needed to make a pivotal decision on how to get to Boston, and I think that turning point, of them rallying together, best encapsulates their journey in the film.

MICHELLE BIRSKY: I agree. We also used a lot of pitched vocals in the score, the idea being that you take a very human element (vocals) and manipulate them with technology. I think any time we do this it really encapsulates the idea from the film that technology has taken over, or beat, humankind.

1428 ELM: In Mother/Android, the androids are breaking through the human stronghold, and people find that they have a target on their backs. This creates a fight-or-flight mentality in the human population. What are your thoughts on the prevalence of apocalyptic themes in films and TV shows?

KEVIN OLKEN HENTHORN: I feel like it’s really top of mind for everyone right now. Between the pandemic and a declining climate, it’s almost impossible not to think apocalyptically on a daily basis.

MICHELLE BIRSKY: I think it makes sense that apocalyptic themes are everywhere in art and media right now, it’s just a reflection of what we’re all going through.

Puppets of our own devices

1428 ELM: One of the creepiest aspects of Mother/Android is the sense that androids are listening to our emotions and taking control. Implied is that humans become puppets of their own devices. At times it seems androids are becoming even more self-aware than humans. At the risk of getting too Kacsynzki-like, do you think technological advancement can be self-defeating for humans?


MICHELLE BIRSKY: I think we’re at the stage in real life where humans are using technology to control other humans, with things like targeted advertising. We’re a few steps away from total self-defeating, but I think ultimately, technological advancement could probably backfire for humans.

1428 ELM: The score/soundtrack is not only a reflection of life during this turbulent time but of the specific relationship on screen. What, in your view, sets these characters apart?

MICHELLE BIRSKY: I think the character of Sam is more reactive, whereas Georgia is more calculated and mature. We used musical themes for each character throughout the film to highlight this.

1428 ELM: I appreciate how Mother/Android at times makes forests scary. It can be a peaceful spot, then become a tense one, and at a moment’s notice. In what ways did you capitalize on this in the score?

KEVIN OLKEN HENTHORN: We tried to blend a lot of organic instruments in with synthesized sounds running as the undercurrent. The bowed acoustic guitar was a huge element in this score. It can be such a peaceful calming drone that just feels like the forest breathing.

MICHELLE BIRSKY: But we were careful not to let the characters get too comfortable. The forest in this film is still a very scary uncertain place, you never know what’s lurking around a corner. So anytime we were out there, that peaceful organic drone was always accompanied by darker distorted sounds that never let you truly feel at ease.

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Mother/Android  (Photo by: Seacia Pavao/Hulu) /

Low survival odds?

1428 ELM: What are your thoughts on the science and politics of the movie and how each character interacts with the others?

KEVIN OLKEN HENTHORN: In an apocalyptic world, everyone has their own objectives and priorities. The army’s only concern is fighting this battle against a seemingly impenetrable force. Georgia and Sam’s only concern is getting their baby to safety. I think it gets super interesting when those two worlds collide and are forced to share the same space with one another.

MICHELLE BIRSKY: I agree. One of my favorite character interactions is when Georgia meets Arthur (Raúl Castillo) in the woods. There’s a tangible fear and mistrust at first that seems very real. Ultimately that mistrust fades with Arthur’s vulnerability.

1428 ELM: What other horror and sci-fi films do you enjoy (for example, the great silent movie, Metropolis).

KEVIN OLKEN HENTHORN: It’s such a wide-spanning genre but some of my favorites are Alien, The Thing, Children of Men, Blade Runner, and 2001 a Space Odyssey.

MICHELLE BIRSKY: I really love Her and Ex-Machina.

1428 ELM: Much of the story involves pregnancy and how it makes the main characters vulnerable. However, it also gives them more incentive to survive. What do you think people’s odds would be in such a scenario?

KEVIN OLKEN HENTHORN: Well, I’m not gonna speak for anyone else here, but I think my personal odds would be very very low.

MICHELLE BIRSKY: Yeah, same! I have terrible eyesight so if I lost or broke my glasses, I’d probably be screwed.

Michelle Birsky & Kevin Olke /

1428 ELM: Do you think people could cope with a sustained internet crash?

KEVIN OLKEN HENTHORN: No. I think that would go very poorly overall.

MICHELLE BIRSKY: I think we’ve become incredibly dependent on the internet. So a crash would probably create a total economic crash.

1428 ELM: What projects are you currently working on?

KEVIN OLKEN HENTHORN: Nothing we can announce quite yet. But on the other side of the music spectrum, I just finished my 4th album for my indie-rock project Cape Francis, it should be out later in 2022.

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Mother/Android is now streaming on Hulu.