Just like the storytelling of Twin Peaks influenced scores of TV shows that followed it, its soundtrack had a similar effect on musicians. Composed by frequent David Lynch collaborator, Angelo Badalamenti, the score was both beautiful and menacing. The opening theme song and the unforgettable “Laura Palmer’s Theme” are classics of any genre. (Watching Badalamenti recall how he and Lynch created “Laura Palmer’s Theme” is fascinating.) Lynch, a musician in his own right, wrote the lyrics to five of the songs which were sung by Badalamenti’s friend, Julee Cruise, who became a cult figure herself after singing some of the songs on the show. With Twin Peaks returning this Sunday, and Badalamenti returning to score the new episodes, we asked 14 musicians how the haunting sounds of Twin Peaks inspired their own craft.
14 Musicians On How The ‘Twin Peaks’ Soundtrack Inspired Them
“Badalamenti’s strange and truly original work gives me hope”
Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema
Photo by Leo Garcia
"Twin Peaks was incredibly influential to Nite Jewel, aesthetically speaking, in the very beginning. On my first album, Good Evening, there were a lot of comparisons to Julee Cruise, which lead me to choose 'lounge' as my genre on MySpace. I continue to feel very much like a lounge artist, and sometimes when I perform, I close my eyes and imagine I am in that bar scene singing 'Rockin' Back Inside My Heart.'"
Photo by Aysia Marotta
Rachel Ruggles of Gracie and Rachel
“There’s an eerie, contrasting mystique to Angelo Badalamenti’s score that, without using words, so accurately tells the unique stories of a variety of personas. The music not only captures a level of uncertainty in the supernatural, but it exudes a confidence and serenity in the unknown. In this way, Gracie and I are inspired to create music that is, both sonically and lyrically, questioning and assertive, unsettling and grounded, playful and critical, and always with an ear to the calm and adrenalized worlds of wonder.”
"The Bewick’s Wren, the saw mill, the waterfall, the Great Northern, the coffee, the doughnuts… none of this comes to life without Badalamenti. David Lynch and the composer were lucky enough to find one another in a world of five billion at the time, and together they gave us a new world in which to play and wonder. I am inspired when music serves something larger than itself. In that way, Badalamenti’s strange and truly original work gives me hope."
Photo by Alex Brown
Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu
"There is no other music from a film or TV show that is so many things but also so focused. It is romantic, funny, innocent, frightening, strange, dark, and sexual. But, at the same time, in one second you know to where you have been transported. Only a masterpiece can be this broad and this instantly evocative. The show reaches the same accomplishment. They are heavenly together."
Photo by Aubrey Trinnamen
"I remember watching an interview with Angelo Badalamenti where he described his process of composing the main theme with David Lynch. He sat at his Rhodes [piano] and tenderly and passionately walked the viewers through their conversation as they wrote the piece together. It nearly brought tears to my eyes. For me, nothing is more inspiring than authenticity. If you are authentic in your creative process, then you will hopefully create something that is timeless and somehow cosmic, which, to me, is exactly what the soundtrack for TP is. His writing seemed intuitive, like he was able to interpret in real time the vision of David Lynch while also capturing the essence of each character. Following them deeper and deeper into the woods."
Photo by Chantal Africa
Jane Penny of TOPS
"I've used the same synth that Angelo Badalamenti used to compose the Twin Peaks soundtrack since the beginning of TOPS, the Roland JX-8P from 1985. I love this synth—it has very warm tones which are simultaneously beautiful and slightly twisted, just like David Lynch's films. Julee Cruise, who appears in Twin Peaks as a lounge singer at the Black Lodge, is also a huge source of inspiration for me as an artist. Her voice is soft and emotional, and when she performs she holds back—it's not about her having 'pipes' or hitting the highest notes, it's about communicating emotion and creating an atmosphere that you can inhabit. I love music that creates its own world for the listener, it's something I always try to do with the TOPS recordings."
Photo by Ip Hoi Wan
"I love the sparseness of the Twin Peaks soundtrack. It’s like someone’s singing softly while looking straight into your eyes in a crowded room. The spacious but intimate aesthetic inspired the song “Laughing Man” on my new record. We recorded as a full band, but then removed my guitar, the main driving instrument. That left my voice suspended like a marionette, dangling in empty space barely held in place by bass guitar and swirling synthesizers."
Photo by Jesse DeFlorio
Stefanie Blondal Johnson of Mise en Scene
"The Twin Peaks soundtrack has always been influential to us because of its melancholy anthems. The way the moods simmer and swell. The way it pulls you in and keeps you curious, yet never gives up its secret. I love when music leaves you wanting more—that's something we try to do with Mise en Scene. The soundtrack continues to inspire us to make hauntingly beautiful music, and we've been playing a lot with concepts of light and dark in our tones and lyrics. It's très Twin Peaks."
Photo by Nora Slade
"Badalamenti's Twin Peaks music came slicing open my shadowy subconscious, spilling the cosmic guts of a wind poem, leaving me in the throes of a bleary-eyed nostalgia for something and somewhere I'd never known. Sinister synths and blissed-out dream guitars are at the core of my new album, Dzi."
"Twin Peaks has definitely had an influence on our music, perhaps more from the show's atmosphere of sinister tones beneath a veneer of innocence than from the music itself. However, we're both big fans of Julee Cruise. Her song 'Into the Night' is a great example of that hazy, ghostly mood that really appeals to us. David Lynch's blend of dark and light is always so strange and unique, it's hard for us not to be inspired by."
Finn Andrews of The Veils
"The Twin Peaks soundtrack had a huge influence on us, and Angelo Badalamenti continues to make amazing music. Julee Cruise's record 'Floating into the Night' also had a large influence on us. To me, it sounds like childhood and Morphine and dreams.”
Photo by Austin Nelson
Dan Molad of CHIMNEY
"One of my favorite things about Angelo Badalamenti’s score from Twin Peaks is how the unlikely pairing of elements work so well together. There is always something real and familiar mixed with dysfunction and darkness. In 'Laura Palmer's Theme' that unpredictability is there again in the arrangement and composition. When I make records, I am forever searching to find a compelling sound I haven’t heard before, combined with something comforting and familiar. That is kind of the ultimate goal, to make something that is super inviting and accessible yet unique or smart or hopefully all of the above."
Photo by Chris Sikich
Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf
"The soundtrack for Twin Peaks is one of mystery, spookiness, and the bizarre. The song 'Night Life In Twin Peaks' pushes film soundtrack boundaries and solidifies a place for experimental/abstract compositions. Songs such as 'Laura Palmer's Theme' and 'Twin Peaks Theme' by Angelo Badalamenti have heavy synth strings with a deep guttural guitar sound which I love. The album, as a whole, encapsulates the Lynchian perspective of creepiness and satire simultaneously. The music provides a tense feeling of anticipation for the viewer which I attempt to provide in my own music. I adore the creepy and chilling aesthetic Lynch uses for his movies and take great inspiration from such an amazing boundary pusher."
Photo by Martin Høye
Haley Shea of Sløtface
"The thing that always affected me about the music of Twin Peaks is the way it builds suspense and creates that feeling that something is always slightly wrong. That feeling of mystery and hidden depth is something we strive to put into some of our darker songs. When guitar player Tor-Arne, his girlfriend, and I lived together in our first apartment, we had the record on vinyl and would listen to it on dark fall nights."