Composer Patrick Kirsts Gripping Score for Breaking Surface

In a recent chat with Patrick Kirst, the talented film composer, dove into the creative process behind his latest score for the survival thriller “Breaking Surface.” This gripping film, set to release on December 15th, promises high-energy moments and a captivating musical accompaniment. From instruments to subgenres and working with the director, Kirst reveals fascinating insights into his approach as a composer.

The Intensity-Building Sound: Pulsing Energy and Rawness

When asked about the specific instruments that contributed to the intense score, Kirst highlighted the importance of pulsing energy in many action-driven moments. To achieve this effect, he relied on a combination of processed sounds and pulsing synth sounds. Additionally, Kirst extracted aggression and a visceral rawness from the string orchestra, creating a unique and captivating auditory experience. Notably, Page Hamilton, the frontman of the metal band Helmet, added his own magical touch to enhance the pulses with his unique and scary sound design. The result is a score brimming with energy and intensity.

Breaking Surface: A Unique Score Approach

Discussing the score’s alignment with the survival horror subgenre, Kirst highlighted his resistance to following conventional formulas. While acknowledging the audience’s expectations for angst, adrenaline, tension, and horror, he emphasized his approach to the horror genre as if it were a drama. By avoiding typical horror clichés, Kirst crafts a score that surprises and engages the audience, elevating the film beyond generic expectations.

A Music Score as a Main Character

Unlike many other film genres, horror films often assign a significant role to the music score. Asked about any extra pressure this might create, Kirst acknowledged that horror scores vividly embody the fear felt by the protagonists or the inherent danger presented by malicious creatures. For “Breaking Surface,” the enemy is not a tangible creature but rather time itself, ticking away rapidly. Kirst masterfully expresses this sense of urgency through a dedicated theme, symbolizing the panicking race against time.

An Organic and Human Approach to Instrumentation

Reflecting on his instrumental approach, Kirst emphasized his desire for the score to be organic with a modern touch. He consciously avoided relying too heavily on electronic elements, as that would render the score too mechanical. Instead, he aimed to make the angst palpable by employing real human performers. The string players played pulses and aggressive short articulations, deliberately playing imperfectly together to enhance the score’s humanity. Amidst the composition process, Kirst experimented with various elements, embracing the unique puzzle game that each score presents.

A Collaborative Journey with Director Joachim Hedén

Collaborating with director Joachim Hedén, Kirst appreciated the filmmaker’s openness to creative exploration. To tackle the seemingly endless possibilities, they derived musical concepts based on the film’s dramatic concepts. Notably, Hedén introduced the idea of differentiating between “burning fire,” representing immediate danger, and ticking and calculating pulses, representing the protagonist’s control and planning. Kirst ingeniously incorporated brass instruments to metaphorically represent fire, even though the majority of the film is set underwater. This creative collaboration added depth and richness to the score’s overall composition.

Evolution of the Score: From Beginning to End

As the conversation turned to the evolution of the score throughout the film, Kirst highlighted the gradual shift in tone. In the beginning, when the protagonists are aware of the danger but feel in control, the score adopts pulsing motifs that symbolize calculated and rational thinking. However, as time runs out and fear takes over, the score intensifies, mirroring the protagonists’ increasing panic and desperation. Kirst’s careful composition allows the score to effectively amplify the film’s tension and suspense.

Challenges: Comparing “Breaking Surface” to “The Kissing Booth”

When questioned about the comparative challenges of scoring “Breaking Surface” versus “The Kissing Booth,” Kirst recognized that both drama and comedy scores have their unique difficulties. However, he acknowledged that “The Kissing Booth” presented a greater number of revisions and a more demanding creative process. While “Breaking Surface” required mild adjustments and tweaks to perfect existing elements, “The Kissing Booth” demanded numerous revisions to explore various musical tones, rhythms, timbres, and pacing. Striking a delicate balance, Kirst aimed to enhance each scene while avoiding excesses that might undermine its intended impact.

Patrick Kirst’s Signature Sound

When asked about his signature sound, Kirst humbly admitted that colleagues often claim they can recognize his scores due to their distinctive quality. Although he approaches each score differently, Kirst attributes this underlying aesthetic to how he writes for strings. Having grown up studying European classical composers like Bach and Beethoven, Kirst’s sound embodies a modern adaptation of their sensibility and has become an integral part of his musical identity.

A Quiet Place: The Last Horror Film Kirst Watched

Curious about Kirst’s own interests, we asked about the last horror film he watched. Kirst enthusiastically responded, mentioning his love for “A Quiet Place,” capturing the captivating essence of the film.

Experience Patrick Kirst’s Scoring Mastery

To fully appreciate the brilliance behind Patrick Kirst’s work on “Breaking Surface,” we invite you to listen to his score on Spotify. Immerse yourself in the intricate blend of pulsing energy, rawness, and orchestral brilliance as Kirst brings the survival tale to life.


Patrick Kirst, a composer known for his innovative and captivating scores, astounds audiences once again with his work on “Breaking Surface.” By infusing the film with pulsing energy, rawness, and an organic human touch, Kirst ensures that the score becomes a cherished component of the overall experience. Collaborating closely with director Joachim Hedén, Kirst successfully captures the film’s essence, defying convention to create a wholly unique musical contribution. As audiences eagerly await the release of “Breaking Surface,” they can anticipate a score that enhances every moment of the survival thriller.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How did Patrick Kirst approach the intensity of the score in “Breaking Surface”?

Kirst utilized a combination of processed sounds, pulsing synth sounds, and raw string orchestra elements to raise the intensity of the score. Additionally, Page Hamilton, the frontman of the metal band Helmet, contributed unique and scary sound design to enhance the pulsating moments within the film.

2. Did Patrick Kirst follow a specific formula for scoring the survival horror subgenre?

No, Kirst did not follow any specific formulas or conventions for scoring the survival horror subgenre. Instead, he approached the film as a drama, focusing on meeting audience expectations of angst, adrenaline, tension, and horror while avoiding typical horror clichés.

3. How did Patrick Kirst collaborate with director Joachim Hedén on the score for “Breaking Surface”?

Patrick Kirst and Joachim Hedén had a collaborative and open working relationship. They derived musical concepts based on the film’s dramatic concepts, allowing the score to amplify key elements such as danger and control. Hedén envisioned a differentiation between “burning fire” and ticking, calculating pulses, which Kirst incorporated into the score using brass instruments.

4. What challenges did Patrick Kirst face in scoring “Breaking Surface” compared to “The Kissing Booth”?

While both “Breaking Surface” and “The Kissing Booth” presented unique challenges, Kirst found “The Kissing Booth” to be more demanding in terms of revisions and finding the perfect musical tone, rhythm, timbre, and pacing for each scene. “Breaking Surface,” on the other hand, primarily required adjustments and tweaks to enhance existing elements.

5. What is Patrick Kirst’s signature sound?

Patrick Kirst’s signature sound is often recognized by colleagues, who notice an underlying aesthetic in his scores. Kirst attributes this to his extensive study of big European classical composers like Bach and Beethoven, which influences his modern adaptions and lends a distinct quality to his music.

Discover the captivating world of Patrick Kirst’s film scores and immerse yourself in his exceptional talent by listening to the “Breaking Surface” score on Spotify.