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An Interview with Toby J. Long, Soundtrack Composer of Bag of Tricks

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2020

Films scored by Toby J. Long on (re)Search my Trash


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You've recently scored the short Bag of Tricks - so what can you tell us about your music for the film, also in relation to its storyline?


I started with a copy of the screenplay Brantley had sent me and started playing around with some presets in Logic to get some inspiration. Soon I found things starting to fall into place. Thinking of Halloween, and the rhymes children often recite, Timmyís theme was then created. The fascinating part is that the opening and closing credits, Candy to Die For was composed entirely from how I had imagined Timmy from the text. Iím glad I got that right. 


What were your major inspirations when scoring Bag of Tricks?


The biggest inspiration for me was John Carpenterís Halloween. The music is iconic, everyone knows what tune that is, and I tried hard to give Timmy a theme that was simple yet spooky. I also tried hard to not make it sound generic and wanted something different. Synth heavy, yet modern. I would also say that Nightmare on Elm Street was another movie I would go back to and study from time to time. 


Now how did you get involved with the project in the first place?


Two years ago I was contacted by my ex-boyfriend and current friend Brantley. He said he needed some music done for a film he had written and knew I wanted a little exposure. So here we are!


What was your collaboration with director Michael J. Coulombe [Michael Coulombe interview - click here] like when scoring Bag of Tricks, and how much creative control over the music did he have or demand?


Itís not always easy to take criticism or be asked to take a different direction on your work, however, when you work with others, flexibility is absolutely necessary. I do feel like the input from Michael, Brantley, AJ, Patrick, Brian and others was vital. When you think you can no longer improve is when, I believe, you need to hang it up. Working with the talented group at Horror House Media made me want to deliver a product that would match the hard work and dedication they poured into the short.


Do talk about the actual process of scoring Bag of Tricks, from composing to recording! And what are the general challenges of scoring a film compared to making music for its own sake?


For me, the process at first was chaos. I had never done anything like this before! I always imagined creating an album, but never, ever thought it would be for a horror film. So first, as I mentioned earlier, I started with the script. Some correspondence with Brantley and Michael assisted in getting the intro and Timmyís theme down. Then came the stressful part. Getting the film to score to! Many visits to YouTube to listen to horror scores to make sure I was on the right path. Horror fans are great people, but you also need to make sure your shit is legit! LOL. My biggest challenges were finding the right sounds for the right moments, the right mix. The biggest difference with scoring for a film and doing music for me is that I actually have people that depend on me to deliver for the film, so that music actually gets completed!!!


Based on your experiences with Bag of Tricks, could you ever be persuaded to score another movie?


Iíd say that would be a good possibility. As long as Iím working with a fun and laid back group of people, Iíd love to. Just seeing people that donít know who I am actually enjoy what I have done is a huge confidence booster. Creating music full time would be the ultimate lifetime dream.


Other future projects you'd like to share?


As of right now Iím just working on building a little portfolio for my small studio Stobe Music. Itís quite different than Bag of Tricks, but Driving in Vermont is my newest single on Spotify. That was inspired by, well, driving around in my pretty little state, Vermont.


What got you into making music to begin with, and did you recieve any formal education on the subject?


I grew up in Southeast Missouri, right in the middle of the Bible belt. I was raised singing and playing southern gospel music. I then became interested in the alto saxophone and played from grade 6 to 12. At age 12 I had a craptastic keyboard and started learning how to play the piano by ear. Iíve never stopped. Aside from briefly attending Mineral Area College for music and band in middle to high school, I have no formal training.


Do talk about your musical career prior to scoring Bag of Tricks?


Iíd say Bag of Tricks is really my first break. Iíve had a few small jobs for friends here and there, but this was my first foray in film.


How would you describe yourself as a musician, and what can you tell us about your preferred styles of music and musical influences?


A one-man band. I can play well with others, but for most of my life, Iíve played alone. Iíve just learned to make the best of what Iíve got, and musically, thatís myself. As I touched on earlier, Southern gospel was definitely an influence. Although I no longer live in that lifestyle, I canít deny the imprint it has left. Also Nina Simone has helped get me through some tough times. Her ability to convey emotion and her raw musical talent is just amazing. Lastly, yet the most influential, would be my Dad. He wrote his own songs and really supported me early on in my musical discovery. Itís important to have a cheerleader in your corner.


And since this is a film site, your favourite movies ... and of course, films you really deplore?


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Your shop for all things Thai

Some favorites would be Chicago, The Producers (2005), Halloween (1978), The Conjuring, and Beauty and the Beast (1991). I did not particularly like Freddy Got Fingered.


Your website, social media, whatever else?


You can find my Facebook page at

My personal Soundcloud is


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD