Soundtrack: Scoring <I>Y: The Last Man</I>
Issue: September/October 2021

Soundtrack: Scoring Y: The Last Man

Composer/songwriter/electronic musician Herdís Stefánsdóttir created the original score for the FX on Hulu series, Y: The Last Man. Born in Reykjavík, Iceland, Stefánsdóttir graduated from New York University in 2017 with an MA degree in film scoring. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Reykjavík.

“My first idea when starting the score was to use the female voice,” she says of her work on Y: The Last Man. “I was imagining what the sound of the world was after the ‘apocalypse’, and since the majority of survivors were women, I imagined a cluster of female  voices speaking and mumbling, so my first recording for the score was in the North of Iceland, recording 10 women doing exactly that.”

The voice became the core element of the score, tying all the themes and different worlds together. 

“Another big part of the score was finding a sound for the world that has become chaotic and lawless,” she adds. “After a conversation with showrunner Eliza Clark, we thought it might be interesting to reference the Wild West, as in the old cowboy movies. I tried to find my own take on the Wild West, taking inspiration from masters like Ennion Morriscone, using familiar elements that bring us to the West but blending in my choral choir stuff, my own voice and electronics. It turned into something new and different!”

Stefánsdóttir says she wrote all the score to script and not to picture, so she had freedom to shape the sounds of the music that would later be edited into the show.

“It allowed me freedom to dive deeper into the thematic writing, creating pieces of music with a longer arc and development,” she explains. “For me, working like that was a very inspiring and important way of working.”

Stefánsdóttir’s credits include scoring Ry Russo-Young’s MGM/Warner Bros. feature film The Sun Is Also a Star and the HBO series We’re Here.