Stranger Things Interview: Music Editor Lena Glikson

ComingSoon recently had the opportunity to speak with music editor Lena Glikson about her work with Stranger Things: Season 4for which she recently won a 2022 Emmy for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour).

Lena’s work consists of projects such as Joker, A star is bornand Suicide Squad. The latest season of Stranger Things has brought a new arrangement of Kate Bush’s song Running Up that Hill (Deal With God) to the top of the charts, and Glikson was at the center of the team along with legendary music editor David Klotz, who featured the song this season.

Growing up in Russia, Lena spent much of her childhood learning piano and taking voice and classical music in her native Russia. She attended the Berklee School of Music where she earned a BM in Film Scoring. Since then, Lena has been in Los Angeles and worked on projects that include King Richard, First manand Ad Astra among other.

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ComingSoon: What made you want to become a music editor?

Lena Glikson: I studied film scoring at Berklee College of Music and loved my music editing class. I quickly learned that this job required a unique set of skills and a special personality that I thought I had because I could see my classmates struggling with some tasks that were very easy for me. I was very detail oriented and loved technology and problem solving. When I moved to Los Angeles with all my young composer friends, I quickly realized that we were all competing for the same composer internships. I started seriously thinking about alternative career paths. I was lucky enough to find a music editing internship with Nick South, who saw the twinkle in my eye, appreciated my dedication to the craft, and became my mentor. Nick offered me a job at his studio a few weeks after I started my internship with him. I felt blessed because he spent a lot of time training me and generously shared all his experience and knowledge.

“Running Up That Hill (Deal With God)” has reached the top of the charts almost 40 years after its release, and it was you who cut the picture. How does it feel to be one of the critical creatives at the heart of this massive popularization due to Stranger Things?

The success of “Running Up That Hill” still feels surreal because I had the privilege of cutting it into a picture. I knew the sequence was an essential part of episode 4 and it was crucial for me to let the song and the action shine. So I spent a long time perfecting the edits and building the musical arc of the song. In episode 4 we also used additional orchestral elements that were mixed with the song, which I also cut to image.

Cutting the remix of Running Up That Hill for the big montage in Episode 9 was a unique project for me. It was an incredible combination of the play itself, the way the scene was cut and my skill, because even the first assembly I did made the scene look very cool and even more epic. I was very excited to show my edit to the Duffer brothers and they really loved it. I work for moments like this and I’m happy to see the positive reaction from the audience.

You worked with a renowned, award-winning team on this project. Can you tell us more about your key collaborators?

I was brought on board in season 4 by music editor David Klotz, who had worked on the show since season 1. I think we made a good team. Each of us had a distinct set of responsibilities. David worked on the dub stage during the mix and I worked in the newsroom preparing music for the mix. I was lucky because I had the opportunity to work closely with the Duffer brothers, who are incredibly talented, very attentive to music and have good instincts. My responsibilities included reviewing new scores from the composers with the Duffers, testing new musical concepts and recycling old lines. It was such a creative and fulfilling experience! I also loved working with Dean Zimmerman – our photo editor, who was always present during our music reviews and provided invaluable feedback. And of course I had a chance to work with Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein – our talented composers whose music I had studied and admired long before I met them in person.

In addition to “Running Up That Hill,” you expertly cut to the Journey song in Episode 8. Can you take us behind the scenes of this impactful moment and your role in it?

Cutting this song in Episode 8 was a lot of fun. At first we tried some other music ideas for that spot, but at one point Matt and Ross asked me to cut the big trailer remix of the Journey song. And it had a wow effect. Everyone loved what I did and how the music worked with the image. This is one of the most rewarding things when you see your customers inspired by what you did.

You have been hailed as one of the best music editors in your field. Can you share a few secrets to your success with us?

I don’t think there is a specific formula for success, but I suppose it always consists of several ingredients. I love my job and enjoy working with the incredibly talented people in the film industry. I am always expanding my skills and learning new things about filmmaking. Although I love music, I always try to see the film from the point of view of the filmmakers, understand their vision and bring it to life. I am not afraid to take on challenging projects because they are the ones that make me grow professionally much faster.

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Are there any other favorite stories you can share about your work or the making of Stranger Things?

In addition to many exciting and creative musical tasks, I had one more role which was very special. I knew there were Russian speaking characters in previous seasons of Stranger Thingsso i was curious to see if there would be more in season 4. i speak russian but the team off Stranger Things didn’t know about it when I was hired as music editor. However, I soon learned that no designated Russian dialect coach was working on the show during post-production, and the Duffer brothers, who needed help with that, were very excited when I told them I could help them. Therefore, on top of my music editing duties, I helped with Russian translation, subtitles and ADR, working closely with our wonderful dialogue supervisor Ryan Cole and the actors who speak Russian on screen. This was so much fun! I even got a chance to teach David Harbor a few Russian words.

Do you have other projects in the works that you can share with us?

I am currently working Babylon with director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz.

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