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Meet the Sound Team: Stranger Things

The hit Netflix series, with its eerie, signature soundscape, took home Primetime Emmy Awards for Sound Editing in its first two seasons. Now they're the odds-on favorite for a three-peat in 2020.

If all goes right, when the 72nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards announces the nominees on July 28, the Stranger Things sound team will be looking at the possibility of a rare three-peat.

With much of the crew intact from the Season 1 win in the category Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) in 2017 and the same for Season 2 in 2018, it’s certainly more than a possibility for Season 3, especially since the unique approach to sound effects and music has been one of the Netflix series’ identifying characteristics since its debut, when the eerie, creepy, rock and synth-tinged main title theme by composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein first set the tone.

Read more: Best Sound Awards and Nominations.

It’s all but impossible to predict what series become both a commercial success and a cult hit at the same time—those types of shows are rare. (Think of late-‘80s Twin Peaks.) For Stranger Things it seemed to happen instantly. Created by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, Stranger Things tapped into a fascination of and nostalgia for the creative possibilities of ’80s sci-fi and action-adventure films. The comparisons to Stephen King and John Carpenter, to Goonies and Poltergeist, to Vangelis and Tangerine, are everywhere.

Consequently, the analog and digital synth-based music pays an homage to the era (the show is set in the early 1980s, in a fictional Indiana town) at the same time it smacks of modern rock production techniques and approach. The show is also noted for its superb Foley and, of course, its unique and innovative creature sounds, from Demodogs and Shadow Monster, to Dart and Demogorgon.

Aliens, supernatural beings, monsters and early ‘80s teenagers in search of a boy who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances… well, it’s a sound designer’s playground, and the Stranger Things team has made its own indelible stamp on a rich sound genre.

Many talented people have worked on the first three seasons of the hit Netflix series, including sound supervisor Brad North, who directed and led the editorial team the first two seasons.

Here, then, is the core sound crew for Season 3 of Stranger Things:

Craig Henighan, supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer

Craig Henighan, Supervising Sound Editor and Re-Recording Mixer

Craig Henighan has been a foundation of the Stranger Things audio team from Day One, setting the tone, helping to set a tone, consistency and a taste for the unusual with sound supervisor Brad North over the first two seasons. For Season 3, Henighan added re-recording mixer to his list of titles on the show, which have included sound designer for 17 episodes and sound supervisor for another 8. Henighan’s many credits also include work on the films Roma (2018), Deadpool (2016) and Fantastic Four (2015), among many others. He and Will Files are partners in the creative sound company Pacific Standard Sound.

Re-recording mixers Mark Paterson, left, and Will Files

Will Files, Re-Recording Mixer

Will Files joined the Stranger Things re-recording team for Season 3, all while continuing his work on A-list feature films from his home base at Sony Pictures Studios. Files, who began his career under the tutelage of Randy Thom at Skywalker Sound after graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, has amassed an impressive list of credits since moving south to Los Angeles and breaking out on his own, including: Cloverfield, War for the Planet of the Apes, Extinction, Zombieland: Double Tap, and the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Broken Diamonds, and The Invisible Man, where he served as supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer. He and Craig Henighan are partners in the creative sound company Pacific Standard Sound.

Mark Paterson, Re-Recording Mixer

Mark Paterson, who joined the Stranger Things re-recording team for Season 3, moved from Goldcrest Post in England to Los Angeles to join Todd-AO/Soundelux in 2013. He is known for his work on films including Les Miserables (for which he won an Oscar for Best Sound Mixing), Attack the Block, Ghostbusters, Ghost in the Shell, By the Sea, Green Book and Sonic the Hedgehog, among many others.

Composers Kyle Dixon, left, and Michael Stein. Photo by Alex Kacha.

Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, Composers

Dixon and Stein, childhood friends from Texas, were knee-deep in developing their band S U R V I V E out of Austin (with bandmates Adam Jones and Mark Donica) when they received a highly unexpected email from the Duffer brothers, creators of Stranger Things, asking if they were interested in scoring the new Netflix series. Their rock-meets-synth score quickly became a signature identifier of the entire series around the world, and was recognized with a 2017 Primetime Emmy Award for main title theme. Since then, Dixon and Stein have continued to write and perform with their band and have branched into more composing work, with recent credits including the National Geographic program Valley of the Boom and the British miniseries Butterfly.

Many other individuals have contributed to the success of the Stranger Things production and post-production sound efforts over the three seasons, including re-recording mixer Adam Jenkins from Seasons 1 and 2, the twice Emmy-nominated music supervisor Nora Felder, award-winning music editor David Klotz, sound effects editor Jordan Wilby and supervising Foley editor Anthony Zeller, among many others.

For a complete list of Stranger Things sound team credits, CLICK HERE.