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GKO EXCLUSIVE - BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD COMPOSERS TALK “CRIME JAZZ!” WITH EXCLUSIVE MUSIC CLIPS (PODCAST #2)
Below is a transcript of questions relating to Brave and the Bold, but I did also get the chance to talk about their background and what it was like to work on other Batman animated shows along side the late Shirley Walker.
I’ve also been given some "EXCLUSIVE" audio clips from Warner Bros. Animation, which have been individually cut for Gotham Knights online by Kris, Lolita and Michael.
When you where first told about the concept of Brave and the Bold, what was your initial reactions and did you decide to give the "show" itself a particular theme or try and give Batman and the other characters individual themes?
Lolita: Well the actual main title of the show is written by Andy Sturmer who you may also know having done the Teen Titans theme, so the opening theme is Andy's. But as far as the style of the show, James Tucker really gets most of the credit. He knew what he wanted; he kept saying "Crime Jazz". So the original approach was that we were going to be able to do sort of a slight homage to the old Batman Adam West approach.
Michael: We were all very excited because it was something that was very classic, very television and extremely well done when it was originally done. The idea of being able to do something so different for Batman and still have it be that, was very classy and cool.
Michael: Well James came to the table sometime with very specific ideas, and sometimes there were shows that were generically part of the series and then there were the shows that stood on their own... Kris, can you think of some scores that have been out of the box?
Kris: We have explored shows that have definitely needed their own sound. For example, when we had the "Return of the Fearsome Fangs!" episode with the Bronze Tiger, James really wanted to feature a kind of an Asian sound - but put through a seventies filter (laugh). He wanted it to kind of draw on sounds that you would assume and associate with a martial arts film of that era and one of the examples we discussed was (Michael cut in and mentioned) Enter the Dragon. Yeah but it was defiantly (sings), " we were kung-fu fighting”… The best part is that James is not afraid and encourages us to really, really go for it.
We have a character coming up pretty soon that James wanted to go in the direction of the rock band "Queen” this is a theme that comes up often. But this time James said "pull out all the stops and make it Queen "... Make it so! (laugh) As composers we love it when a producer has the confidence to not hold back and let’s us give our all, which is really satisfying from a creative standpoint.
Lolita: And it’s also wonderful for us when we can utilise the talent of some of our wonderful live musicians on this show. We have an incredibly talented woodwind player John Yokham, who play's all the various saxophones, clarinets and some ethnic instruments. It’s like a candy store! We’re going to have this villain and let the base clarinet be his main sound, or this villain will have a baritone saxophone or even pair it with a strange ethnic Asian flute to add affect. It’s great to be able to write something and have wonderful performances by soloists.
Michael: It takes the music to the next level and we're really happy to have the ability to do that on this show.
On a more technical aspect, what's the process you go through to compose and score episodes of Brave and the Bold? Does the director or producer give you ideas and how do you split the work up between yourselves?
Lolita: We have full recording session on the show, and we also have two engineers who mix our music for these episodes - it’s a full music production. It’s an elaborate system were we spot the music with James and identify what kind of style were going to have for each show. Then we mark where the music starts and stops and create the music. About a week later we will come back and play the music for him. He will give us suggestions, critiques and say “Hey-its perfect don't change anything.” Then we hire the musicians and record the live parts and mix it. It's full on production for each and every twenty-two minute length cartoon.
Kris: We tend to write independently rarely sit down together, but there have been experiences were we would all three sit and share the piano. When working on these episodes, we all sit down and split the work up in an equal fashion. Sometime during the spotting session with James about the music, there will be a scene that really speaks to one of us and we’ll call dibs. We each have our own individual list of about a third of the music that has to be written independently; meanwhile we still make a point of keeping in touch with each other. Were always playing things for each other, sharing audio files during development so that we know which direction we're going. In the end, we have created a very homogenous sound.
Michael: We each have our own individual studios where we do our own writing, but this enables us to put a lot of attention on the overall score simultaneously. This process produces an exceptional product in the end and enables us to meet the short turn around time to complete post production on the episode.
Lolita: We have tried it in the past, were we will each take an episode. It’s creatively very satisfying, but on a practical level a composer or composers might be waiting for their episode to be completed, while other composers can be in a time crunch or panic mode. Splitting up the work is a more effective solution and ensures that all our resources are being exploited. This situation ensures we are focused everyday, putting the attention on making sure the music is right and not exhausting ourselves.
What are the deadlines like for each episode and which episode has been your favourite to score so far?
Michael / Lolita: The “Musical” episode is my favourite, because it’s kind of out of the box.
Michael: There's been some wonderful moments where we've had a great opportunity for music. For some of the fight scenes James will decide that we can compose the music as if it was choreographed to the fight and he will back-off the sound affects in favour of the musical stabs and other audio cues instead of the punches. It really lets the music shine in places for the episodes that we've scored so far.
Lolita: It’s nice because James does like to favour music in certain spots. There may be a scene that kind of sits there and even though it is good, it doesn't have as much colour as another scene. It’s nice for us to be able to bring a whole different dimension to a particular scene. James is always willing to take that stretch and it is very rewarding for us.
I wanted to say a massive thanks to Kris, Michael and Lolita for taking the time to speak with me and what an amazing opportunity it was to speak with such professionals from the industry.
The full interview is included on this week’s Podcast and also includes my chat regarding other projects. Click here to listen…
The above sound clips are the property of Warner Bros. Animation and are not to be copied and reused without their permission.
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