Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

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The creative partnership between composers/producers Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross reached an award-winning peak in the 2010s, but by then, they had already been working together for decades. With a lengthy history spanning their early industrial goth rock days, they eventually became synonymous with electronic-based film scores, winning a Golden Globe and an Academy Award in 2011 for The Social Network. After winning a Grammy for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, they had a prolific run into the end of the decade, crafting anxiety-provoking, emotionally resonant atmospherics for film and television alike.
The pair first got together in the late ’90s, when Ross and his band 12 Rounds released their sophomore effort on Reznor’s Nothing Records. As part of the Nothing family, Ross was in a prime position when Reznor’s band Nine Inch Nails issued their first effort of the millennium, 2005′s With Teeth, joining him in the studio as a programmer and producer. In addition to working on each subsequent NIN release (and eventually becoming a permanent member in 2016), Ross also formed a side group, How to Destroy Angels, with Reznor, Reznor’s wife Mariqueen Maandig, and Rob Sheridan in 2009. As they worked on these various NIN-related projects and production for artists such as Saul Williams, Zack de la Rocha, and Jane's Addiction, the pair took their first steps into the world of film scoring, which would prove fortuitous.
Applying the digital dread that they had been specializing in for much of the decade, they crafted the critically acclaimed soundtrack for David Fincher’s 2010 film The Social Network. When the pair won a Golden Globe for their efforts in early 2011, it came as a shock to those who knew Reznor and Ross primarily as industrial rock musicians. An even bigger surprise arrived weeks later when they took home the Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Having infiltrated Hollywood, the pair entered a fertile production period for both NIN and their collaborative work, with sounds and influences bleeding into one another along the way. After a second collaboration with Fincher — 2011′s U.S. adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — won a Grammy Award, Reznor and Ross returned to NIN for 2013′s LP Hesitation Marks. Swinging back to the movie screen, they reunited with Fincher for a third time, contributing the score for his 2014 thriller Gone Girl. After a brief hiatus, the duo returned in earnest in 2016 with Visions of Harmony, Patriots Day, and Before the Flood, composed with Gustavo Santaolalla and Mogwai. They also released the first installment of a trilogy with NIN’s Not the Actual Events EP. In addition to the short film The Black Ghiandola, 2017 found them reworking John Carpenter’s Halloween theme, as well as providing the backdrop for Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s somber documentary series The Vietnam War. NIN’s Add Violence arrived that summer. The next year, they closed out the NIN trilogy with the band’s ninth studio album, Bad Witch, which joined the soundtracks to Mid90s and Bird Box on their 2018 roster. Their very NIN-like work for HBO’s reimagining of the graphic novel Watchmen was unveiled in late 2019 (split into three volumes), just as the news broke that the pair would be partnering with Disney for 2020′s Pixar film Soul. ~ Neil Z. Yeung