The Music of WINTERSKIN: An Interview with the composers
When it came to my 3rd horror film, WINTERSKIN, I wanted a unique electronic score, inspired by the likes of The Thing, and when I came across the music of two talented musicians, with an amazingly authentic retro sound, I knew I had to have them on board the project...
Those musicians are S.T.R.S.G.N (Stewart) and Europaweite Aussichten (Sam). If you haven't heard their music you should check it out immediately! Here, we discuss how they came to work together to create the chilling icy cold, synth sound of WINTERSKIN
CHARLIE: Sam and Stewart, let's start by introducing who you are, and the music you make!
SAM: I’m Sam and I’ve been making music under the pseudonym Europaweite Aussichten for the past 5 years or so. What kind of music do I make…? This is a bit hard to describe. I’m somewhat part of this synthwave movement but what I’m doing isn’t pure synthwave. I’m influenced by so many different things. More experimental stuff too and even rock music.
STEWART: I'm Stewart and I've been making film and TV inspired electronic music under the name S.T.R.S.G.N since around 2012. Overall, I've been making music in some form or another since 2001, moving between beat-driven stuff and more ambient filmic stuff. I occasionally dabble in writing and directing short films, but music is my primary focus.
CHARLIE: What was the appeal of scoring WINTERSKIN? I actually gave you guys the option of scoring this or THE BARGE PEOPLE, both completed production very close together, so what drew you to this one?
STEWART: The soundtrack spec for WINTERSKIN was roughly ‘The Thing’ meets ‘Children of The Corn’, with the Stephen King inspirations being really intriguing for me as a long-time fan of his work and related TV/movies. Sam and I are both HUGE fans of the TV adaptions like The Mist, The Stand and Storm of The Century, so to work in a similar world was very appealing.
CHARLIE: Which is awesome because those Stephen King TV adaptations are really what got me hooked on the horror genre, Rose Red, Salem's Lot, It, and the others you mention. That's what we agreed on as the primary influence on this score, Stephen King TV movies...
SAM: I think it was also the story. WINTERSKIN has these claustrophobic and atmospheric vibes of Misery and The Shining. It’s more a kind of slow-burn horror tale, so we could experiment with a lot of interesting atmospheric soundscapes to give the picture a very cold and isolated feeling.
STEWART: Also, Sam and I had recently covered the synth sound with 'The Seeker' soundtrack and had wanted a new challenge.
CHARLIE: Which is a great piece of work, horror fans can check it out right here: I'm interested to learn which soundtracks were the most influential in composing the WINTERSKIN score?
SAM: Trent Reznor’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo score, for sure. That was the biggest influence for me. It feels so cold, distant and nasty. I thought we could bring some of that atmosphere to WINTERSKIN.
CHARLIE: I'd say you succeeded!
STEWART: Interestingly, rather than gathering inspirations for the project I actually went the other way and tried to avoid listening to soundtracks around the time of writing the score. It’s impossible to resist any inspiration creeping into a project of course, but I like to think the overall score is a closer reflection of the King adaption influences than anything else.
CHARLIE: And this was your first feature film, so how was that challenging compared to your albums and other music?
STEWART: Getting started was really tough, obviously the Main Theme is central to the wider palette of sounds in the score, so getting that right took some work.
CHARLIE: I think that's always the toughest part! For me the Main Theme sets the overall feel of the movie and also has to be quite an elaborate piece as it plays alongside the titles rather than to accompany a scene. You guys did the main theme for THE BARGE PEOPLE too, which set a tone for the rest fo Sam Benjafield's brilliant score on that film.
STEWART: Also, the scale of the project was bigger than anything we'd done before, it took us about 3/4 months to complete and it felt quite daunting at times. In the end we created around 85 mins worth of material which seems crazy in retrospect, but that's what we needed to do.
SAM: We were constantly asking ourselves “Is this good enough?” or “Are we doing this right?”. Because when you’re doing your first score, you just have no idea. Plus, you aren’t doing the music for yourself. When I’m doing an album, I must be the one who’s satisfied the results. So I can pretty much do whatever I want. But when you’re scoring a movie, you are doing music in service of the picture, so someone else decides if it’s right or not. Creatively it’s a vastly different process.
CHARLIE: I bet! And how did you two come to meet and realise you could work on music together?
SAM: I think we were both featured on a Synthwave compilation some years ago and I really liked the track Stewart contributed. So I contacted him because I was looking for people to collaborate with on a new project. That’s how it all began. We helped each other over the years when it came down to mixing and mastering music or even when he needed some feedback for his films. (I did a couple of short films too and they’re all terrible. Stew is much better at it, so I hope I didn’t ruin anything).
STEWART: Sam and I discovered each others music in around 2015 and had started to collaborate shortly afterwards, eventually working on The Seeker soundtrack together. When the opportunity to write for THE BARGE PEOPLE came along it seemed natural to continue the collaboration, and WINTERSKIN, as a first feature film for us both seemed like a further continuation of that process.
CHARLIE: This was the first time a movie of mine hadn't been scored by my regular composer Sam Benjafield, so it was really exciting to hear what you guys came up with, this different style of electronic music, which sets such an effective atmosphere. The film is brought to life by your eerie music, you must be as pleased with he results as I am?
STEWART: I am really happy with the score! The feedback has been amazing, so I couldn't ask for more.
SAM: I’m very satisfied with the final result. It was such a big chunk of work, but we finally released this beast. It feels great.
CHARLIE: And you got the soundtrack released through Lakeshore Records, so people can listen to it even if they've not seen the film! What's next for you guys?
STEWART: Next up I am finishing my short film 'The Telling' and beginning work on my new synth-based album 'Within'.
SAM: Right now I’m working on a new record. I released a whole bunch of EPs over the last few years, but this will be my first full-length album since 2015 and I’m very excited about it. The whole thing feels kind of conceptional. Imagine spending one last night with a person you really love, before he or she has to move on. That’s what it sounds like to me. It’s like the semi-synthwave version of AMERICAN GRAFFITI.
CHARLIE: Well I am intrigued! It was a pleasure to collaborate with you both, and I highly recommend you to other horror filmmakers out there looking for an original soundtrack!
WINTERSKIN is available NOW in the USA on Amazon.com, DVD and VOD:
The soundtrack is also available NOW through Lakeshore Records: