064 Darkroom – Ryan McGowan – The Interrogation of Carol Shaw

The piece of music featured in this episode is called The Interrogation of Carol Shaw. It’s a dark and menacing horror-influenced soundtrack that I wrote for the psychological thriller audio drama The Darkroom Podcast, a weird fiction story about an amateur photographer and the mysterious photographs he discovers on old rolls of film. The soundtrack was conceived with a cobwebby basement in mind, and created live on a Korg MS20. My name is Ryan McGowan. I’m a composer from Steep Falls, Maine, and this is How I Make Music.


00:00 At the point in the story where this track plays, the audience is beginning to realize that some of the creepy, supernatural deductions made from viewing the antique photos might be true. An elderly woman, Carol Shaw, experiences an existential dread upon seeing them.

03:38 John Carpenter’s Halloween theme was one of the influences behind the track, particularly in the arpeggiated piano. Other influences include Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score for Gone Girl and the 70s TV show Night Gallery.

05:33 I wrote this piece with the aesthetic of a cobwebby photographic basement darkroom in mind. The narrator feels a compulsive need, a dangerous curiosity. To create this music, I imagined myself in the same space, surrounded by analog gear.

06:28 Most of the track is a realtime performance of a sequence I came up with on the Korg MS20 synth. I’ve added wow and flutter to augment the pitch, and a triple-octave synth melody composite.

07:35 I’ve used dissonance to create uneasiness. I start with a sustained drone, and bend it in and out of tune to create horror and unease. I don’t use a lot of sound effects in the series, and so wanted one of the musical parts to sound like a terrifying scream.

08:57 After the big climax, the chords start to include major notes. I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore! I wanted the outro to be mysterious, but free from the existential dread.


* Listen to The Darkroom Podcast www.thedarkroompodcast.com/
* Download ‘The Interrogation of Carol Shaw’ soundcloud.com/r-u-s-e/interrogation-of-carol-shaw
* Check out my other music crookedskies.bandcamp.com/


* John Carpenter – Theme from ‘Halloween’ (Halloween)
* Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – What Will We Do? (Gone Girl)
* Billy Goldenberg – Bits and Pieces (Night Gallery)


How I Make Music is where behind-the-scenes musicians tell their own stories. Every Wednesday, we break apart a song, soundtrack or composition and investigate the insights into how it was made.

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How I Make Music is created by John Bartmann johnbartmann.com