<I>The Sun Is Also A Star</I> composer Herdís Stefánsdóttir
Issue: May/June 2019

The Sun Is Also A Star composer Herdís Stefánsdóttir

The Sun Is Also A Star is modern-day story about finding love against all odds. The new movie from Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures tells the story of college-bound romantic Daniel Bae and Jamaica-born pragmatist Natasha Kingsley, who meet and fall for each other during one magical day in New York City.  

While sparks fly between the two strangers, they have just hours before Natasha’s family is due for deportation.The film stars Yara Shahidi (Grown-ish) as Natasha and Charles Melton ( Riverdale) as Daniel, along with John Leguizamo ( John Wick: Chapter 2).

Directed by Ry Russo-Young (Before I Fall), the film is based on the bestseller by "Everything, Everything" author Nicola Yoon. 

Behind-the-scenes, the creative team included director of photography Autumn Durald Arkapaw (Teen Spirit), editor Joe Landauer ( Before I Fall), and composer Herdís Stefánsdóttir ( The Hate U Give).

Herdís Stefánsdóttir 

Stefansdóttir recently took time out to talk with Post about her role on the film and how she created its original soundtrack.

How did you get involved in this project?

“I sent a reel with my music as a pitch. A few months later my agent got a phone call from Warner Bros. They asked if I was available? My first reaction was: ‘Noooo, I can’t believe Hollywood is knocking on my door when I’m seven months pregnant! Obviously I can’t score this film when I’m about to give birth in 8 weeks!’ After talking to my boyfriend and mom (a mother of four children), who said I could and should do this, I decided to go for it. It ended up being the best thing for me - being able to write music until the day I gave birth. I was very productive and inspired during that period. I was also lucky to have a good musical connection with the director, Ry, so the creative process was smooth and fun.” 

How much music was required?  

“The score is about 35 minutes of music divided between 20 cues. Ry wanted to have an ongoing theme in the film that would evolve and grow with the characters. The main theme ended up being the love theme that I wrote for the almost final cue, when Natasha and Daniel are saying goodbye. I recorded many different variations of that theme in different keys and instrumentation. The music is lighter in the beginning of the film and I’m using instruments like the ukulele, flutes, electronics and percussion. As the story unfolds the music gets more emotional and by the end of the score, I’m using mostly piano, harp and cello.”

What is your set up for composing and recording?

I had just moved back to Iceland when I started that project, so I didn’t have a studio at the time. I’m used to being a ‘bedroom producer’ and working with my laptop all over the place, so I started and did most of the writing process in my living room, where I set up a small home studio. Then I recorded a few instruments in my friend’s studio with help from Dustin O’Halloran and Kjartan Holm. Finally, I did a remote recording session in Sunset Sound studios in LA, where I recorded a string quartet. I wanted the string sound of the film to be small and intimate, that’s why I chose a quartet rather than having an orchestral sound.” 

The Sun Is Also A Star (thesunisalsoastarmovie.com) is in theaters now.