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Montreal-based saxophonist Colin Stetson.Ebru Yildiz

Who brings a woodwind to a chainsaw fight? Colin Stetson, the avant-garde saxophonist who strives to unsettle his listeners, even when he’s not creating scores for horror films.

“Every time I make music, I try to do something that is definitively and functionally outside of everyone’s expectations,” says Stetson, who contributed the music to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. the much-anticipated Netflix sequel to the 1974 original that premieres Friday.

Stetson splits his time between Vermont and Montreal. He has collaborated with everyone from Feist to Arcade Fire to Tom Waits, and his own albums are experimental in nature. “You use certain tropes to get your foot in the door, and then you use other methods to put people on their heels and make them truly uncomfortable. When you have people catch their breath in their throat, then you can really move them places.”

With that attitude, it’s no surprise that Stetson is making a name in the horror field. His credits include 2018′s Hereditary, 2019′s Color Out of Space and, now, a sequel to one of the granddaddies of the slasher genre.

Your Texas Chainsaw Massacre soundtrack will be released the same day as the film. Where does it stand in your discography?

For me, music is always telling a story. It’s probably true to say this soundtrack is sonically the most dense and abstract thing that I’ve done to date. There’s an enormous amount of twisting and processing of sound. It’s ripe with unconvention. On the surface, I suppose it sounds very aggressive. At the same time, there’s a story in there. There is an arc.

You released one track already, Every Last One. It’s quite wild, and more than a little disturbing.

It was constructed to play to the signature chainsaw massacre in the film. It’s a weaving of disparate moments, with a concise storyline all of its own in the three-and-a-half minutes that it spans. Is listening to a horror soundtrack for everybody? No. But I don’t think I’ve ever made music thinking that any of it was for everybody.

In another interview, you mentioned that you used the grunting of hogs for your Chainsaw soundscape. But I’ve watched the film and I didn’t detect that.

Yes, one publication really ran off with that story. But, no, you won’t be able to pick the hog grunting out because the sound is fused and stretched and made into something that enhances the moments they’re part of. But I do love how one word can be grabbed by the press and make it seem like I used a hog choir.

Unlike other projects, going into this one you knew there was going to be one sound for sure – the chainsaw. How did such a loud, unique sound affect what you did with the score?

All the sound that I’m using as a musical gesture has to work in and around and above and below that rumble of the chainsaw engine in the film. Much of what I did was using a lot of backdoors – getting sounds of reconstructed notions of machinery and scraping metal. Those sounds come from acoustic instruments played in unconventional ways and processed in even more unconventional ways. It’s a symphony of orchestrations that don’t have any real-world literal sound source anymore because it’s been so disfigured and transformed.

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Stetson scored the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre soundtrack.Daniele Maldarizzi/Courtesy of Redbird Music

There’s a lot of mayhem in the action scenes. Are you competing with the chainsaw roar, or are you complementing it?

My hope is to support the chainsaw and to get out the way of it. You can still be massive and support it. Sometimes I want to get in its way and take over the job of the big terror. Because, personally, I don’t feel the sound of chainsaw for an hour and a half is scary the whole time.

The directors initially assigned to this film, Ryan Tohill and Andy Tohill, were replaced early on by David Blue Garcia. Did the switch affect you at all?

I worked only with David. Early on we talked about the early footage that I saw, and about my reverence for the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre from 1974 and how the music and sound was approached in that film. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed working with David. He’s a lovely guy with a great eye.

Are there any through lines from the original film’s score to the score you created for this sequel?

I was attuned to the original score, but I wasn’t going to use any of the same devices. It shares DNA with the original, but my score is decades later, and decrepit, angry, rusty and dusty. It’s a grizzled, gnarly, howling beast version. And it’s turned up to 11.

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