Film and TV composer Tyler Strickland recently won an Emmy Award for his outstanding work on the six-part Netflix documentary series Cat People. Tyler also recently worked on the four-hour epic HBO series Edge of the Earth, which follows four groups of elite athletes as they embark on extreme, adrenaline-inducing, never-before-completed missions on some of Earth’s most feral environments.
In this exclusive interview, we take a closer look at Tyler’s favorite scene from Edge of Earth.
PH: Which scene was your favorite to work on in HBO’s Edge of the Earth?
Tyler Strickland: I would say my favorite scene in the show is in the first episode in Alaska when the crew gets up to the summit of the mountain and the helicopter footage spins around them to reveal they are in the middle of nowhere.
PH: Describe this scene and the significance it has to the rest of the series.
Tyler Strickland: It is such a surreal moment for these athletes but they’re also there with some of their best friends. It’s so cool to see these three incredible people that are all connected in life through their mutual love for snowboarding, which is a relatively niche thing, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, completely isolated from the troubles in the world. It’s just a really pure moment that I think might feel like the closest thing in the show to truly being on the edge of the earth, and the music needed to reflect that.
PH: What instruments did you use in your production of this scene?
Tyler Strickland: In this scene we used human voice to convey this sense of Mother Earth. When they reach the summit of the mountain, before they start their descent, everything is calm and there is no dialog, it’s just music for about 1 minute. I worked with an incredible vocalist named Ari Mason to provide this feeling of the voice of nature. It seems to give the athletes a real connection to the mountain they are standing on. The whole scene is really elevated by a 12 piece string ensemble that we recorded here in LA as well.
PH: What technical challenges did you encounter while working on this scene?
Tyler Strickland: I wouldn’t say it was much of a challenge because it was difficult, but it’s always an amazing opportunity when you’re given a 90 second window of time to fill with epic music and epic visuals. So we really went the extra mile with recording live orchestra and vocals to fill the space in this scene.
PH: What was the dialogue like between you and Edge of the Earth’s director or showrunner regarding this scene, as well as the rest of the series?
Tyler Strickland: The team, from producers and directors to editors, all really intentionally carved out sections throughout this series that have no dialog and it was such a treat that they gave me those moments to really shine with the music.
PH: Does this project have a similar scoring palette throughout, or does it evolve per episode?
Tyler Strickland: I recorded the same string ensemble for the whole show so it is definitely pretty consistent, and there are motifs that are repeated throughout the show. At the beginning of each episode we meet the new crew of athletes and each of those moments has a theme that repeats. Although when we go to South Africa there is a little bit of a departure and I snuck in some surf rock guitar sounds.
PH: You also recently won a Daytime Emmy for your composing work on Netflix’s Cat People. What does this win mean to you?
Tyler Strickland: It’s such a dream come true honestly. I’ve always felt like an Emmy was the coolest award to win because working in TV is so difficult at times and requires a lot of energy over a long period of time. So to receive an award for something you put six months of your life into is such a great feeling.
PH: Any other recent highlights or favorite projects you’d like to shout out?
Tyler Strickland: I also recently just scored Street Food USA on Netflix which is a great watch!