Out Take: Tyler Strickland


Web: tylerstrickland.com 

Contact: Emma Rose Rowell, emma. [email protected] 

Most Recent: Sly, Class 57: Navajo Police, Thriller 40 

Touring guitarist-turned-composer Tyler Strickland’s credits include Sly, a documentary on the life and career of Sylvester Stallone, Class 57: Navajo Police, a three-part docuseries centered on the class training of the Navajo Police’s 57th task force, and Thriller 40, a documentary celebrating the 40th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s iconic album. 

“Composing for documentaries absolutely has its own set of challenges separate from, say, drama or comedy. The filmmakers had to earn the trust of the subjects in the film, and there is a sense of responsibility on the post-production team to do right by that,” Strickland says. “I do love that layer of responsibility in scoring for documentaries; it feels like we’re contributing to real stories and making a tangible change in the world. I would say that often one of the biggest hurdles in composing for docs is remembering to practice restraint with the music.” 

Strickland says he approaches a new project by having long conversations with the directors about their vision. “I prefer when the filmmakers are vague about what specific instruments they want or don’t want. Some might say, for instance, that clarinet is a silly instrument that should only be in comedy, but it can be incredibly haunting and mysterious if you treat it with the right effects.” he says. 

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to record audio,” Strickland advises aspiring composers. “It’s so easy today to get caught up in only using sample libraries. While many of them are amazing, unfortunately everyone’s using the same sounds. Make your own.” This practice also helps kickstart new projects: “I usually start a film by spending a week creating loops, textures and drones, so when going into the project, I have a bunch of sounds to mess around with.”