Stranger Things Interview: Music Editor Lena Glikson


ComingSoon recent had the opportunity to speak with music editor Lena Glikson about her work on Stranger Things: Season 4, for 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 like Joker, A Star is Born, and 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, alongside legendary music editor David Klotz, who showcased the song this season.

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

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ComingSoon: What led you 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 particular personality, which 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 internships with composers. I started seriously thinking about alternative career paths. I was fortunate to find a music editing internship with Nick South, who saw the sparkle in my eyes, appreciated my dedication to the craft, and became my mentor. Nick offered me a job in his studio a couple of 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 nearly 40 years after its release, and you were the one to cut to 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 to picture. I knew that 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 arch of the song. In episode 4, we also used additional orchestral elements that were blended with the song, which I also cut to picture.

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 piece itself, the way the scene was cut, and my skill because even the first assembly that 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 genuinely loved it. I work for moments like this, and I’m delighted to see the positive reaction from the audience.

You worked with a celebrated, 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 been working on the show since season 1. I think we made a great team. Each one of us had a separate set of responsibilities. David was working on the dub stage during the mix, and I was working in the editorial, preparing music for the mix. I was fortunate because I had an opportunity to work closely with the Duffer brothers, who are incredibly talented, very attentive to music, and have great instincts. My responsibilities included reviewing new score pieces from the composers with the Duffers, trying out new music concepts, and reusing old cues. It was such a creative and satisfying experience! I also loved working with Dean Zimmerman – our picture editor, who was always present during our music reviews and gave invaluable feedback. And, of course, I had a chance to work with Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein – our talented composers whose music I had been studying and admiring long before meeting them in person.

In addition to “Running Up That Hill,” you expertly cut to picture 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. Initially, we tried some other music ideas for that spot, but at some point, Matt and Ross asked me to cut in 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 picture. This is one of the most rewarding things when you see your clients inspired by what you did.

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

I don’t think there is a particular formula for success, but I assume that it always consists of multiple ingredients. I love my job and enjoy working with the incredibly talented people in the film industry. I always keep expanding my skill set and learning new things about filmmaking. Even though I love music, I always try looking at the movie from the filmmakers’ point of view, understanding their vision, and bringing it to life. I’m not afraid of taking on challenging projects because those are the ones that make me professionally grow much faster.

RELATED: Stranger Things Season 5: Writing Begins on Final Season

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

Besides many exciting and creative music tasks, I had one more role, which was very special. I knew there were Russian-speaking characters in previous seasons of Stranger Things, so I was curious to see if there would be more in Season 4. I speak Russian, but the team of Stranger Things didn’t know about that when I was hired as a music editor. However, I quickly learned that no designated Russian dialect coach was working on the show during post-production, and the Duffer brothers, who needed some help with that, got very excited when I told them I could help them out. Therefore, on top of my music editing responsibilities, I was helping 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 Harbour a few Russian words.

Do you have any other projects coming up that you can share with us?

I’m currently working on Babylon with director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz.

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