The X-Files Theme Song Combined A Spooky Vibe And The Smiths

Snow (né Martin Fulterman) was born in Brooklyn in 1946 and attended Julliard as a teen to study music. He was briefly in a band called the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble, which he co-founded with Michael Kamen, who also eventually became a famous film composer. Between 1968 and 1973, the band put out eight studio albums. Frankly, they weren’t very good. Soon thereafter, he parlayed his rock ambitious into a career composing for TV and film. 

Years later, when it came time to compose for “The X-Files,” Snow was an old pro who knew how to write for TV but had never tackled a spooky sci-fi show before. As such, Carter would give Snow a lot of instruction for new drafts when his composition didn’t quite match what Carter wanted. Evidently, Carter eventually started sending actual recordings of pop songs he wanted the theme to sound like. Notably, he sent over a recording of The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now?,” originally released in 1984 as the B-side on the band’s single “William, It Was Really Nothing.” For those unfamiliar, “How Soon is Now?” may be one of the band’s more recognizable songs. According to Vice, the CDs Snow received also included Phillip Glass and Portishead. 

Snow recalls listening to The Smiths, and then noodling around on a keyboard. Bored one day, he put his elbow on the key while the echo effect was activated. The sound emerged. Snow recalls: 

“So I thought, well, that’s a nice little accompaniment figure. […] What could be the other parts of it?”

The whistle part of “The X-Files” theme was also a quirk of his Emu 2 Proteus synthesizer. One of the built-in audio samples was a six-note audio patch called “Whistling Joe.” Wouldn’t you know it the melody was already out there. 

Leave a Comment