Skookum - Behind the Score by Sean Sumwalt

“Is it a bear?... Is it bigger than a bear??? RUUUUUN!!!!” Living in the mountains, the Skookum are beasts akin to Bigfoot himself, but a whole tribe of them! Creating the sounds and moods for SKOOKUM was one of the highlights of film scoring for me this past year.



The Making of The Score

I had been collecting ideas for months leading up to the final edit of SKOOKUM, the series opener for CEREBRAL. I had a few synths that I concocted with the help of my domestic beasts, Macchi and Mocha. Giving them a bath produced some rather interesting results…

Slowing those samples down to 40 or 60 even 100 times their original length made for amazing pads and textures.

Early on in the production, one of the VERSA Brothers came to my studio, and this spontaneous performance happened with the above mentioned kitty synth!

That completely improvised performance lead to the creation of the first cue for the episode. I took the full-length video (not shown) and carefully followed the same ebb and flow while crafting that scene.

I had the atmosphere of the film, now I needed a theme. The Moog Sub37 seemed to be the perfect candidate for the kind of 80’s synth-lead score the VERSA Brothers were looking for. Performed in the dreaded and overused D-minor, it was my lead ostinato that represented the Skookum. I felt a theme wasn’t needed. A driving ostinato, rather than an actual dynamic theme, better represented their primal urges.


Simple, yet effective! With the climax of the initial cue being a chase, I began to toy with that sound and created a musical ‘roar’ for the Skookum to add intensity to the scene.

Something was still missing, though. Something to drive and propel us forward that spoke to the tribal nature of the Skookum. I long had tapped various rhythms on the ice bucket of the café where I used to work. I always thought about using it in a score. This was the one!

After layering 6 or 7 of these in varying patterns, I pitch-shifted them down by about a minor 3rd for a darker sound. Once I peppered in some over-blown flute effects I knew I had the right sounds for these otherworldly beasts!


With all of these elements at my disposal I had the soundscape I needed to craft the rest of this very dark and brooding score!

I hope you enjoy it!