Updated: Nov 2, 2022
By Justin Gray (Songwriter/Producer/Founder of MDIIO.com)
Once upon a time, a group of spooky hit makers congregated in the basement of a recording studio in Los Angeles to conjure up the first ever eerily focused music project specifically for Halloween.
We called ourselves LVCRFT.
All these vamps and vampires had one directive.
Do for Halloween what Mariah Carey did for Christmas.
And so it began…
In the first week of January of 2019, Scary Ana Grande (aka Sarah Barrios), Li’L Pumpkin’ (aka Evan Bogart) and yours truly…Count Trackula (me) created the lore now known as “Skeleton Sam.”
It was the first song ever written for LVCRFT.
Since then, we have released more than 60 songs.
Other OG LOVCRFT’ers were MNDR, Bonnie McKee, Peter Wade, J Hart, Sarah Hudson, Baby Daddy, and Trevis Harris. All of them with HUGE credits and smash hits. To be in their presence was an honor. I tried desperately not to fan out discussing the depths of their discographies.
Now…more than 50 people have contributed their pens and alter egos in order to terrify kids everywhere. This year we collaborated with famous horror composer Christopher Young.
I have been lucky to be in the right rooms from time to time. My credits aren’t too shabby…but I mean “Halo” and “Teenage Dream.”
I wanted to BLOW them away. Pull out every trick in my arsenal. 20+ years of experience had my back, and I was ready to crush it!!
(I am about to break the fourth wall here).
We wrote the corniest song EVER!!!!!!!!
I left that session thinking…”what a waste of a day.”
This song is too silly. It will never get licensed.
We wrote a song about a fictitious dancing skeleton who rises from the grave every October 31 to throw a party in the Lafayette Cemetery, in New Orleans.
Normally I’d give you 5 motivations at this point. Instead, I’ll give you 5 reasons that I couldn’t have been more wrong about that day, that song, and the power of Skeleton Sam.
1. I completely underestimated the void of too little Halloween music. Credit where credit is due to my collaborator and LVCRFT visionary Evan Bogart. It’s been his vision all along to create evergreen Halloween copyrights. As he said “Christmas is well taken care of. But nobody pays attention to Halloween.“ I mean how many times can they license the “Monster Mash?”
2. I really thought that the concept was beyond silly. It felt kitschy, campy, and just so ultra-specific as a concept that I just could not see anywhere where the song would be licensed. Boy was I wrong. Not only have we made multiple six figures on various licenses associated with the song, we’ve even licensed iterations of this song for specific uses. Most notably… “Straight to Hell“ for Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Netflix. (https://open.spotify.com/track/3TsnZQm78Idawqs1KtOas4?si=b0c48c5d0e1342c9)
3. This song was originally written in 2019. Years passed, and until 2021, my instincts were correct. No licenses. But suddenly…last year… Netflix came calling. And since then, this song has been used several times. Last year in the Adam Sandler movie “Hubie Halloween,” and recently, very prominently featured in the Disney+ movie “Hocus-Pocus 2.” Because of this Sync placement alone…the song has collectively streamed more than 10 million times across all DSP’s. The power of a placement.
4. We were writing Halloween songs during the first and second week of January. I mean… Can you think of a less spooky time? How are you inspired to be spooky in January? Although post-holiday credit card bills can be pretty terrifying. Again where I was wrong, was that in fact, we needed months to get the music exactly right. Even in that first year, we didn’t really truly understand that Halloween music was getting licensed as early as June.
5. Not only was I completely wrong about everything, but if you would’ve told me almost 4 years ago now that “Skeleton Sam“ would be one of the top 10 most Shazam'd songs in the world, and making the global top 50 playlist, I would’ve said you were absolutely crazy. Crazier than writing this song was in the first place. Yet all of that is completely true. I would’ve never anticipated that one of the biggest hits of my career would be a silly song about a dancing skeleton.
The Coda: Perhaps the biggest lesson that I learned is that when you surround yourself with creative people, the sky's the limit. I didn’t see the vision, but I wholeheartedly trusted those around me who did. Truth be told, I’m really not the biggest Halloween fan. But I am now!
See you next Halloween, and keep writing them hits