David Klotz Interview: ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘AHS: 1984’ sound editor
Six-time Emmy winning sound editor David Klotz added two new nominations to his resume this year. That’s thanks to his work on “Stranger Things” and “American Horror Story: 1984,” which landed him bids for Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series and Sound Editing for a Limited Series, respectively. These two hit shows gave Klotz the ability to dive headfirst into 80’s music nostalgia. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
One of the most talked about moments of “Stranger Things” Season 3 occurs when Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Suzie (Gabriella Pizollo) bust out a rendition of the title track to “The NeverEnding Story.” The song plays over a chase sequence as the Mind Flayer hunts down the main characters, offering an unexpected bit of levity to the season’s most tense moment.
Klotz ultimately wound up arranging and producing this cover track, and admits his involvement was “sort of an accident.” Matarazzo and Pizollo recorded their vocals a capella on set, but when Klotz received the takes “the tempo was going up and down” and couldn’t be synced up with the song’s instrumentals. He collaborated with film editor Dean Zimmerman to cut the sequence so that the tune had the correct tempo, but the keys still weren’t right. With the show’s composers swamped, Klotz used his own home equipment to cook up a new arrangement. “I even have some of the same gear Giorgio Moroder had when he recorded the original,” the music editor notes. The final product is a cover that honors the synth beat of Moroder’s original production while incorporating “the sound of the show.”
Finding inspiration for “Stranger Things” and “American Horror Story” often came from the past. “I started going back and listening to a lot of horror scores,” says Klotz. That meant studying the use of music in 80s slasher movies and finding obscure gems. He reveals that “Stranger Things” even features a musical reference from cult favorite “Killer Klowns From Outer Space.” Still, Klotz is wary of the “trap” of trying to squeeze too much music into every scene. “I’m almost advocating more often than not, to take music out of a scene than to put music in.” It’s about honing in on the tone and knowing when less is more.
Klotz has 18 total Emmy nominations, and has been nominated every year since 2012. Most years he has found himself with multiple nominations. He has won three Emmys for “Game of Thrones,” two for “Stranger Things,” and one for “American Horror Story.” “I do not take any of this for granted,” discloses Klotz of his Emmy hot streak.