Analyzing Matthew James Intricate Score for The Djinn

Matthew James Talks About His Score for “The Djinn”

Pitching the Directors and the Evolution of the Score

Heaven of Horror had the opportunity to chat with Matthew James about his latest score for IFC Midnight’s thrilling horror film, “The Djinn.” In this interview, Matthew discusses how he pitched his ideas to directors Justin Powell and David Charbonier before landing the job. He reveals that the tracks he presented, particularly “Trapped” and “Artifacts Required,” ended up becoming integral to the film’s sonic landscape. Interestingly, the demo version of “Artifacts Required” became the exact score used in the end credits of the movie. Matthew feels tremendously honored that his initial pitch resonated so strongly with the filmmakers.

A Description of the Score for “The Djinn”

For those who haven’t seen the film yet, Matthew provides some insights into his score for “The Djinn.” He explains that the music ranges from delicate and emotional to intense and terrifying. It combines synthetic sounds with orchestral instruments to take the audience on a captivating journey. The main themes, composed by Dylan, are heavily influenced by the soundscape of the 1980s, primarily utilizing synths with some support from orchestral elements. Matthew’s score incorporates a unique blend of synthesizers, orchestras, and vocals to support the film’s overall theme.

Matthew’s Vocal Contributions to the Score

Matthew’s involvement in the film extended beyond composing; he also lent his own vocals to several tracks. His voice can be heard on the score cues, particularly on the Djinn’s main incantational theme. Throughout the film, audiences will catch glimpses of his vocals, acting as a sort of siren song drawing viewers further into the story. The track “The Book of Shadows – Spirit of Fire” on the film’s official soundtrack prominently showcases Matthew’s vocals. Interestingly, he initially explored using sample libraries but opted to use his own singing experience, which includes being a singer/songwriter and receiving opera lessons, to create a more authentic and compelling sound.

The Djinn’s Distinctive Themes

When asked about whether he gave the Djinn a specific musical theme, Matthew confirms that the Djinn is characterized by various elements. These include vocals, aleatoric string clusters, sul ponticello and glissandi techniques for tension, and an old vintage synth effect called “The Djinn Drop.” By combining these different musical elements, Matthew effectively brings out the essence of the Djinn as a supernatural entity within the film.

Favorite Scene to Score

Matthew finds it challenging to choose a favorite scene to score, as there were many memorable moments throughout the film. However, he mentions one sequence where the character Dylan walks through a location by candlelight. This particular scene allowed Matthew to craft an enjoyable musical experience. Additionally, any scene that provided him with the opportunity to create rad 80s 8-bit beats was especially rewarding to work on.

Using Source Tracks and Inspiration from “Stranger Things”

There is a track in the film by Timecop1983 feat. Dana Jean Phoenix. Matthew explains that the filmmakers decided to include this track, which they discovered on YouTube, because it suited the film perfectly. While Matthew had initially planned to compose some songs himself, the decision was made collectively to incorporate existing source tracks, allowing him to focus primarily on scoring the original music for the movie.

Contrary to popular belief, Matthew states that his score for “The Djinn” was not directly inspired by the hit series “Stranger Things,” even though both projects are set in the 80s. Drawing on his background and musical proclivities from that era, he acknowledges that the comparison is inevitable due to the film’s usage of classic 80s synth arpeggios. As a child of the 80s and someone familiar with iconic synthesizer sounds, Matthew’s musical style naturally incorporates elements that hark back to that vibrant era.

The Message and Significance of the End Credit Song

Matthew sheds light on the end credit song, revealing that it originates from one of the demos he submitted to secure the scoring job. The directors loved the track so much that they wanted it to be showcased in the end credits, a decision that greatly honors Matthew. The end credit song, titled “Artifacts Required OG,” serves as a testament to his musical talent and creative contributions to the film.

The Valuable Lessons Learned from Scoring “The Djinn”

Reflecting on his experience scoring “The Djinn,” Matthew emphasizes that no matter how many films a composer works on or how many directors they collaborate with, each project presents new and exciting challenges. He finds this aspect of his job exhilarating. The directors, Justin Powell and David Charbonier, possess a keen filmmaking sense and a distinct vision. Matthew looks forward to future collaborations with them, expressing his admiration for their artistic sensibilities and the opportunity to continue working together.

Future Horrors: Matthew’s Interest in Scoring Dystopian/Sci-Fi Films

When asked if there are other horror subgenres he would like to score, Matthew reveals his love for dystopian and sci-fi horror. Excitedly, he mentions the possibility of working on a project in that genre as early as next month. Matthew eagerly anticipates the creative challenges and rewards that await him in his future scoring endeavors.


In conclusion, Matthew James has truly left his mark on the horror/thriller film “The Djinn.” With his exceptional musical talent and versatile range, Matthew has created a score that seamlessly blends delicate emotions with intense terror. His incorporation of 80s synth sounds, vocals, and orchestral elements contributes to the film’s unique atmosphere and adds depth to its narrative. Through his contributions to both composing and performing, Matthew has demonstrated his dedication to crafting a captivating auditory experience for audiences. As an accomplished composer, Matthew continues to push the boundaries of his craft and eagerly awaits new opportunities to score films in various horror subgenres.


1. How did Matthew James initially connect with the directors of “The Djinn”?

Matthew James had the opportunity to pitch his ideas to the directors, Justin Powell and David Charbonier, before securing the scoring job for “The Djinn.” He presented a few tracks, including “Trapped” and “Artifacts Required,” which ultimately became pivotal to the film’s sonic landscape. The demo version of “Artifacts Required” even made its way into the film as the end credit song.

2. Does the score for “The Djinn” incorporate any of Matthew James’ vocals?

Yes, Matthew’s vocals can be heard in several score cues, particularly on the Djinn’s main incantational theme. His voice adds a unique and captivating element to the music, drawing viewers further into the story. One notable track that showcases Matthew’s vocals is “The Book of Shadows – Spirit of Fire” on the film’s official soundtrack.

3. How would Matthew James describe the distinctive themes associated with the Djinn in the film?

Matthew explains that the Djinn is characterized by a combination of elements, including vocals, aleatoric string clusters, sul ponticello and glissandi techniques for tension, and the vintage synth effect called “The Djinn Drop.” These musical components help to create a sense of supernatural presence and enhance the overall atmosphere of the film.

4. Did Matthew James draw inspiration from the popular series “Stranger Things” for his score?

Although “The Djinn” shares similarities in its 80s setting with “Stranger Things,” Matthew states that he did not draw direct inspiration from the show. He recognizes that the comparison is often made due to the film’s use of classic 80s synth arpeggios. Matthew’s own musical background, including his experience with vintage synthesizers, contributes to the familiar and nostalgic soundscape of the film.

5. What can Matthew James learn from his experience scoring “The Djinn”?

Scoring “The Djinn” provided Matthew with further insights into the ever-evolving nature of his craft. Regardless of the number of films he has worked on or the directors he has collaborated with, each project presents its unique set of challenges and excitement. Matthew emphasizes the thrilling aspect of being a composer and appreciates the opportunity to work with astute filmmakers like Justin Powell and David Charbonier. His collaboration with them on “The Djinn” has been a fruitful and inspiring experience, fueling his desire to continue composing music that enriches the cinematic experience.