Icelandic Composer Herdis Stefansdottir Talks About Using Grief Loss and Tragedy As Thematic Elements for the Score of Y: THE LAST MAN

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Interview by Paul Salfen

Imagine going about your day when suddenly every male on the planet mysteriously DIES… except one.

That’s the premise of FX’s new series Y: THE LAST MAN, coming to Hulu on Sept 13. Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughan, the series is scored by Icelandic composer Herdis Stefansdottir, who took an unconventional approach to create an experimental, apocalyptic, adventurous, and hopeful score.

The first piece of music she wrote was a requiem for the lost men. Herdis imagined a collective cry of every female voice in the world, screaming at each other in confusion, lamenting the loss of their loved ones, and the chaotic sounds of this uncertain new world. Herdis channeled all of that grief and loss into her music for the series as a response to tragedies happening in our own world the past couple years… a theme that was shortened and became the main titles for the series.

Also, traveling to the north of Iceland, Herdis recorded ten women talking in a dissonant way and created a sound world of those voices as part of the score.

And that was just the start! She continued composing thematic pieces just from the script, writing music freely and developing away from picture the whole time. This freedom to write whole measures of music rather than just snippets allowed Herdis to delve deeper into the subject matter and react in a visceral, more emotional way, creating a score that sounds like nothing anything else on TV.

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