Exclusive: Jed Kurzel on the Music of Alien: Covenant

We’re at fever-pitch levels of excitement for Alien: Covenant, the Prometheus sequel/Alien prequel! Directed by Ridley Scott, who directed the 1979 original sci-fi/horror classic, the film will delve further into the universe of Weyland-Yutani, the Engineers, and space exploration.

Additionally, there will be parasitic aliens, several deaths, and a lot of catastrophes along the way!

In anticipation of the film, we managed to score an interview with composer Jed Kurzel. We asked Jed what it was like coming aboard such a storied franchise, the inspirations for the instruments he used, and more. You can read it all below!

Look for Alien: Covenant everywhere on May 19th.

Related Story: Attention: Boston – See Alien: Covenant Early and on Us!

Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, and Benjamin Rigby star in Alien: Covenant. Ridley Scott directed the film, which was written by John Logan and Dante Harper based on a story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green.

Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with ALIEN: COVENANT, a new chapter in his groundbreaking ALIEN franchise. The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.

Dread Central: The Alien franchise has been around for nearly four decades and has a huge and devoted fanbase. What were your thoughts when you came aboard to score the film?

Jed Kurzel: That the Alien franchise has been around for nearly four decades and has a huge and devoted fanbase!

DC: One of the things we’ve always loved about the Alien films is that they wonderfully blend organic with synthetic. Even the Xenomorph itself feels like a combination of both attributes. Did that factor into your compositions at all?

JK: It definitely provided a jumping off point for me. When I first met Ridley, we talked a lot about these organic-sounding instruments being corrupted either by foreign sounds or from within themselves. Even within the more lush orchestral pieces there are elements suggesting a threatening presence, like breaths and pulses. Ridley was a big fan of the BBC Radiophonic show from the 60’s. It’s pretty interesting if you haven’t seen it.

DC: The trailers have shown that much of the film will take place on a lush planet that seemingly has no life on it. How does one evoke such a lonely concept using music?

JK: I think by utilizing silence. It’s pretty effective when you have the opportunity to exploit it.

DC: Your resume features a wide variety of genres. Alien: Covenant is not your first horror movie, which it appears was The Babadook. Obviously Covenant is a drastically different kind of film, but were there any lessons or concepts you learned from The Babadook that you brought over to this film?

JK: The Babadook was a lot quieter and more contained, but if they share anything, it’s the way the music sometimes hints at sound design . I remember with The Babadook we created this aural landscape with voices. We were always hinting at some kind of threatening presence existing in the house. You never knew where the sound design finished and the music began. We employed something similar with Alien: Covenant although on a larger scale!

DC: When you look at the Xenomorph, as well as other alien creatures that will be in the film, what are some instruments that you feel represent such a creature?

JK: Stringed instruments used percussively. To me they sound like different weighted bones being smashed together. Distorted, blown out brass has a certain weight to it as well. Low primal breathing pulses.

DC: I’ve long held the belief that music is one of the most important and under-appreciated characters of a film. If you had to personify your music for Alien: Covenant and describe it as though it were a character, what would that description be?

JK: Maybe a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

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Jonathan Barkan

Lifelong horror fan with a love of music on the side.

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