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Joseph Trapanese’s score for Spiderhead walks the edge of madness

Joseph Trapanese (Spiderhead) Composer Interview

Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works and select commentaries from some of the score’s most important tracks.

One of the most interesting Netflix original films to come out in recent months was June’s Spiderhead, starring Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller, directed by Joseph Kosinski (who’s already flying high this year with the whirlwind success of Top Gun: Maverick). But where Maverick is all massive, big-screen spectacle and Tom Cruise at the literal height — or, rather, altitude — of his powers, Spiderhead feels more akin to the kinds of thinky, patient sci-fi spectacle Kosinski is known for.

Based on the short story “Escape from Spiderhead” by George Saunders, Spiderhead follows the efforts of Steve Abnesti, played by Hemsworth, to craft next-generation research chemicals to alter the moods and emotions of his subjects. His lab rats? Prisoners at his state-of-the-art penitentiary, all of whom volunteer in exchange for reduced sentences. His favorite pupil is Jeff (Teller), himself in grief over the car accident that killed his friend and landed him in prison; together, the two form a curious, dangerous dynamic as they quibble over the ethics of their work, and Jeff learns the true purpose of Steve’s experiments.

It’s an eerie, unsettling film, with a suitably quirky score to match, courtesy of Kosinski stalwart Joseph Trapanese. The composer is no stranger to this show, having discussed his score for Netflix’s fantasy series Shadow and Bone with us, and he’s been busy since, taking over for season 2 of Netflix’s The Witcher, Prisoners of the Ghostland, Project Power, and more. Now he’s returned to the show to discuss the delicate balance of haunting vocals and electronic elements that make up his minimalist score for Spiderhead and how they weave throughout the film’s yacht-rock-heavy soundtrack.

After the interview, Joe also talks us through some track commentaries from the score.

You can find Joseph Trapanese at his official website here.

Spiderhead is currently streaming on Netflix, and you can listen to the score on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Maisie Music Publishing.

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CategoriesRight on Cue
Clint Worthington

Clint Worthington is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Spool, as well as one of the founders of the website/podcast Alcohollywood in 2011. He is also a Senior Writer at Consequence of Sound, as well as the co-host/producer of Travolta/Cage. You can also find his freelance work at IndieWire, UPROXX, Syfy Wire, The Takeout, and Crooked Marquee.

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