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The Contemporary Soundtrack in Dickinson

June 18, 2020 | By

Dickinson is an Apple TV+ original series created by Alena Smith and stars actress and singer Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson. The show delves deep into the perspective and world of Emily during the 19th century Dickinson era with a modern sense and flair. The musical soundtrack guided by music supervisor DeVoe Yates created a modern soundtrack with a sensibility to connect with viewers by transporting the essence of Emily Dickinson to our current time period through the use of contemporary music.

Dickinson 1.1

The decision to use contemporary music, rather than traditional music, came when the music supervisor sent the creator a mix tape of what Emily might be listening to today. The mix tape would include various genres, eclectic unknown artists, better known artists, and some obscure tracks.

The artists in the soundtrack include Noga Erez, A$AP Rocky, Skepta, Alice Boman, Billie Eilish, Ecca Vandal, Lizzo, Damien Rice, Mitski, Kanary Diamonds, TJR, Savage, Andrew Applepie, Icky Blossoms, Carnage, ILoveMakonnen, Junior Boys, The Dollyrots, Andrew Bird, Kayjez, Danger Twins, Michael Holland, Transviolet, King Dude, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Quad City DJ’s, 69 Boyz, K-Nock, Angel Olsen, Ruelle, Hatchie, G Flip, and Hailee Steinfeld.

Dickinson 2.2

The music supervisor explained, “In general, I tried to mix up the genres. In that time period, there’s different genres of music that are relatable to genres of this day. We wanted to keep the artists new, fresh, and a little off the radar to some extent, nothing that was too over played. The songs haven’t really been heard before and has context. When we hear the song again, we think of that scene in the show. That’s what we wanted to do, so that the soundtrack is really identifiable with the show in those moments.”

Billie Eilish was used multiple times and was an important piece of the soundtrack to bookend the season. Yates expanded, “When we were doing the show, Billie Eilish was getting popular, we used Billie Eilish to bookend this season in episode 1 and episode 10 because it felt like Emily’s spirit animal to some degree. It was a darker sound, a dusting going on in some of her songs that were relatable to Emily.” The Billie Eilish songs used were “bury a friend” in episode 1 and “all the good girls go to hell” in episode 10.

Dickinson 4.4

Many times, the song selection hits the emotion of the scene to elevate the moment. “When Emily’s trying to please her dad by baking him some bread to show him that she can be a house wife to some degree, that Damien Rice song, “It Takes A Lot To Know A Man” works well in trying to communicate her inner thoughts there. The Michael Holland song, “Fever For You” plays when she goes with Ben in that great love moment, the feeling of passion and the excitement of a first romantic encounter. These songs are nipped to hold that particular moment,” the music supervisor expressed.

Dickinson 3.3

In the end credits of each episode, a different song is played. “These songs tried to tie up the episode little bit to some degree, at least like speak to where we’re being left off, or just the moment we’re going out on. In the end of episode two, “Your Best American Girl” from Mitski played to the last scene but took till the end of the credits, having a continuation of that moment with that love scene between Emily and Sue. Episode three was pretty dead on; Sue leaves and the song that is played is called “So This Is Goodbye” by Junior Boys, the mood of it is very sad and an empty feeling. We had used Andrew Bird’s “Give It Away” in episode four at the end, it was a sweet song dealing with Emily and her dad in terms of the issues they were dealing with. I like the Transviolet “Undo” at the end of episode six, it’s that moment when Sue comes back and Emily wants to be with her, but she’s already decided to let her brother be in love with her,” Yates attributed.

The soundtrack in Dickinson is an extension of the modern Emily Dickinson portrayal in the series. The song selections range from current artist series star Hailee Steinfeld, influential artist Billie Eilish, eclectic unknown artists, indie singers and bands, and fresh artists from a variety of genres. Music supervisor DeVoe Yates created a modern soundtrack for a modern Emily Dickinson to relate to people in current times.

Dickinson 5.5

Complete Soundtrack Below:

Episode 1:
Noga Erez – “Off The Radar
A$AP Rocky feat. Skepta – “Praise The Lord (Da Shine)
Alice Boman – “Be Mine (Jaakko Eino Kalevi Remix)”
Billie Eilish – “bury a friend
Ecca Vandal – “Future Heroine

Episode 2:
Lizzo – “Boys
Damien Rice – “It Takes A Lot To Know A Man
Mitski – “Your Best American Girl

Episode 3:
Kanary Diamonds – “Came To Party
TJR feat. Savage – “We Wanna Party
Andrew Applepie – “I’m So
Icky Blossoms – “Perfect Vision
Carnage feat. ILoveMakonnen – “I Like Tuh
Junior Boys – “So This Is Goodbye

Episode 4:
The Dollyrots – “City of Angels
Andrew Bird – “Give It Away

Episode 5:
Kayjez – “Famous
Junior Boys – “Parallel Lines

Episode 6:
Danger Twins – “Feelin Good
Michael Holland – “Fever For You
Transviolet – “Undo

Episode 7:
King Dude – “Please Stay (In The Shadow Of My Grave)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “The Carnival Is Over

Episode 8:
Quad City DJ’s, 69 Boyz & K-Nock – “What You Want For Christmas
Angel Olsen – “Shut Up Kiss Me”

Episode 9:
Ruelle – “Hold Your Breath
The Wedding Dress Song

Episode 10:
Hatchie – “Without A Blush
Billie Eilish – “all the good girls go to hell
G Flip – “2 Million

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