A Eureka Springs Musician on Soundtracking Ozark

Chatting with Eureka Springs musician Alaina Blake about that time Netflix emailed her and her husband-slash-bandmate Dylan Hawf about recording a song for the new season of the streaming service’s hit crime drama Ozark—on the eve of folk duo’s wedding, no less

How did Netflix end up selecting your music for the show?

[The executive] said he was browsing the Ozarks looking for music and came across one of our videos on YouTube and that my voice really fit in with what they were looking for. They wanted me to cover the Frank Sinatra song “Summer Wind.” And if you’re familiar with the song at all, it’s actually a pretty lively, upbeat, beautiful song. His view was to turn it into a dark anthem for the Ozark TV show. So really slowing it down, making it eerie—that was kind of our goal with this song.

How long did they give you to produce the song?

He never really gave me an exact time. He’s just like, This is the music business, so usually the quicker the better. But he was surprised I was returning his call, knowing I was getting married the next day. So we kind of laughed about that. We ended up getting into the studio the following week, and I think we had that track sent back to him within probably a week and a half.

That’s an interesting way to spend your honeymoon, right?

Yes, we spent it in the studio. We actually played a show right after our ceremony, too.

Were you familiar with the song before they pitched it to you?

You know, I wasn’t. So as soon as we got that email, neither one of us was really quite sure which Frank Sinatra song that would’ve been, so we put it on and just listened to it over and over again, just really trying to get a feel and get creative about what we could do to make it suitable for the Ozark series.

So how did you end up approaching the cover?

I kind of just heard this kind of speed that I wanted it to be at. I wanted it really broken down and really slow, almost dragging, just giving it that extra push of eeriness behind it. And it wasn’t hard, being familiar with the series, kind of knowing what would fit in that show as well.

Do you know how it’s going to be used in the show?

We don’t. We’re anxiously waiting to see if they’re going to use it for a trailer or some part in the series, or if they’re even going to use it at all.

Was it a challenge converting the style of Sinatra’s original to your more folky sound?

It is always a challenge, but I think Dylan and I just have a way of playing together that we end up putting our touch on things probably without even realizing that we’re doing it. It’s just kind of a natural way of going about things in how we write music and play music.

When you were recording with Eric Witthans at Homestead Recording in Fayetteville, how did the song all come together?

We really were trying to brainstorm what else we could do to this track because it still wasn’t where we wanted it to be. There was just something missing. We couldn’t figure out what it was exactly. Then Eric mentioned that he played lap steel and would be willing to maybe take a look at it throughout the night and see what he could come up with. When we showed up the next day to go back in and record, he had the steel part recorded that was just wonderful, and it tied the whole song in together and gave it that extra push and that little amount of eeriness that we really needed for the song.

Ozark’s second season will hit Netflix Aug. 31. In the meantime, hear more of Alaina and Dylan’s work at abdhmusic.com.