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‘X-Men,’ ‘Thor,’ ‘Terminator’ Screenwriter Zack Stentz Loves FM-84 (& Other Things)

He’s Written Films and TV Shows You Love, and Like You, He’s an FM-84 Fan

California synthpop producer FM-84 has a superpower.

The mild-mannered Col Bennett, when donning his FM-84 keys, has a preternatural ability to craft catchy, contemplative, and reaffirming songs like “Jupiter,” “Running in the Night,” and “Don’t Want to Change Your Mind,” that make you feel like no matter what, everything is going to be all right. It’s a method that has won him more than a million streams on Spotify and fans in several nations after only two years.

Screenwriter Zack Stentz, an FM-84 fan.
Screenwriter/producer/superhero Zack Stentz, an FM-84 fan.

One of those fans is Zack Stentz, who along with writing partner Ashley Edward Miller, wrote Marvel-centric films Thor and X-Men: First Class.

Stentz also has made his mark with television shows like Andromeda, Fringe, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. He’s even crossed the aisle and written a few episodes for The Flash, the show based on the D.C. Comics character. He’s also written novels. All in all, Stentz is a superhero himself.

Recently, Stentz did a quick Q&A with Vehlinggo to talk about what he likes about FM-84’s Atlas album, the synthy scene overall, what he listens to when he works, and which synthwave artists Wolverine and Charles Xavier would listen to, among other things.

(Edited slightly to fit that slick Vehlinggo style.)

Aaron: What are your five most-listened-to synthwave/retro songs or albums right now?

Zack: I’m a huge fan of FM-84’s Atlas — it transcends a lot of the genre’s synthesizer noodling to deliver pure pop pleasure from an alternate universe where the summer of 1985 never ended.

I also dig Gunship — as a former writer on the Sarah Connor Chronicles, I love the ways they evoke the Brad Fiedel soundtrack from the Terminator films. Timecop1983, Carpenter Brut, and the Le Matos soundtrack for Turbo Kid — I love that movie — round out my top five.

How’d you get into this type of music?

Zack Stentz in the 1980s.
Zack Stentz in the 1980s.

Like a lot of people, the Drive soundtrack was sort of my gateway drug. I went on to buy the Kavinsky album and joked to my friends that the future of music sounded a lot like the soundtrack to Airwolf. From there, the YouTube channels were a big help in identifying artists I enjoyed.

What do you listen to when you’re writing? And does the substance or genre of your project influence what type of music you listen to while creating?

I tend toward the more ambient side of synthwave or M83 or whatever Pandora brings up based on those choices when I’m writing. When I drive in L.A. — and I spend all too much time in the car as an Angeleno — I tend toward the more structured, lyrical side of the genre. Atlas is PERFECT driving-in-L.A.-with-the-top-down music.

Drive isn’t really an 80s movie and the music isn’t very retro, but there are strands there that make people go down the rabbit hole of nostalgia. If you could write a film with that level of cultural importance and impact, what would you write?

I’ve actually written a screenplay called Rim of the World that I’m really excited by. It’s sort of a throwback to the Amblin and Castle Rock movies I grew up with that I’m hoping will be to a new generation of kids and families what The Goonies, E.T. and Stand By Me were to me.

I have to ask: Which synthwave artists would Wolverine listen to? How about Charles Xavier? 

I think Wolverine would bang his head to Perturbator or Carpenter Brut, while I definitely see Charles Xavier chilling out with a glass of wine and some Syntax.

Learn more about Stentz over at IMDB.

UPDATE, July 1, 2017: Stentz and Miller are among the writers for Top Gun 2, which is most definitely confirmed as in-production. And Harold Faltermeyer is doing the score!

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