If there is anything that enhances the look and story of a film, it’s gotta be the music. Learning what it takes to bring a scene to life from scratch is fascinating. While on one of my trips to Disney Animation, I attended a press junket for TinkerBell and the Legend of the NeverBeast, I was very entertained and educated by the brilliant BLEU, who was introduced by the musical supervisor of the film, Brett Swain. These two are the men behind the music of the new movie. They chatted with a small group of us as they shared the music making process.
Music of TinkerBell and the Legend of the NeverBeast: BLEU Interview
This interview was different than the ones I have done in the past for we were given permission to take video. This is really great for you get to actually see how the instruments come to life for the film. BLEU and his assistant Ben did a great job of sharing and demonstrating this which I have placed clips throughout the post. I think if you take a few minutes, you too will be fascinated on how he got the perfect sound for TinkerBell and the Legend of the NeverBeast.
Brett: Bleu and I produced all the songs in the film. I wrote a couple of them and I worked on the sound and color pallet of unusual instruments. Let me tell you a little bit of how we got to the sounds of the film, the score, and talk about themes and all of that.
So one of the things we do when we’re talking about the music for the film is we have themes for each of the characters. In this case, you know, we were talking about things for Fawn (played by Ginnifer Goodwin), things for Gruff, Nix, the storm in this case cause it doesn’t necessarily have to be a person. It can be, you know, something that’s very important to the film.
And a lot of times when we come up with these themes, they’re melodic things. You know, they’re tunes for this film, we not only wanted melodic themes for the characters but we also wanted just really peculiar and you know, unique sounds. In the case of Gruff, primitive and ancient because we don’t know where he’s come from. There’s a part of Pixie Hollow that we haven’t been to before. So Steve (Loter, Director) wanted to challenge us to come up with unique sounds so that the minute you heard it, we knew it was associated with that character.
BLEU: Well first of all, let me just start off by saying that this is the first film I’ve ever worked on, so it’s really exciting — exciting to be able to talk to you guys today. This whole journey has been really incredible for me, for my first film to be able to work on a Disney film is amazing.
Brett: You did a good job by the way.
BLEU: Thank you. I got involved in the film because the Director Steve Loder had been a big fan of my artist career for years. And while he was working on the film, he was listening to my records and so these are his words, not mine. So my albums were sort of his soundtrack to the film as he was working on it. He came up to me after a show one day and basically sort of mysteriously said, you know, “I have this project I’m working on. And I think you want to be involved. I can’t really say too much about it”, and then I walked in, you know, to the studio here one day and I was like whoa, I think I might be working on a Disney film. This is amazing. But yeah, you know one of Steve’s directives really from the very beginning was that he wanted to make sure that the music for this film was unique, not just within the context of the fairies franchise but unique for really anything and so I really challenged myself to try to come up with things that you hadn’t heard before and I knew I wanted a really percussive score especially because one of my main directives was to come up with a sound for Gruff because he’s the new character.
And he’s obviously such a looming and larger than life character in this world and in this film. And you know, he’s an aging character. We already know that he’s lived for thousands and thousands of years and in the old fairy lore, he’ll probably live for thousands and thousands more, if not for forever. So percussion instruments being probably the first instruments that man ever played, we think of those as being, you know, very primitive but I didn’t want to necessarily just draw from percussion instruments of the world because a lot of times those put you in a very specific place, La Tabla from India or the Celtic Frame Drum or whatever it happens to be. So a lot of what I was trying to do is go to the Home Depot and the toy store and those sorts of things and find unusual percussive sounds that don’t come from a sample library or you know, from a specific ethnic region or anything like that but you know, something that’s unique and might remind you of something but it’s not exactly the same. So one of the first things I came up with for Gruff were these pots and going around the hardware stores and stuff like that, I found a ton of these outdoor planters and they all have this hole at the bottom for the water to drain through. And it allows them to fit exactly perfectly on a Cymbal Stand, which was incredibly convenient. So I ended up getting dozens of these pots and dove around, you know, and like I balanced one on a Drumstick in the store…This was actually how we did it and I listened to them and people would walk by…
Were you wearing the hat? (BLEU finishes the story in this video)
BLEU: And also one of the things, you know, we, or one of the challenges was we had a song for Pixie Hollow which is kind of a Celticy kind of a feel for Pixie Hollow and TinkerBell and all of that. And then how will these sounds work with, um, the existing music that we, for the existing arrangements that we had for Pixie Hollow. So here’s an example. (See video)
They’re kind of dissonant and earthy, you know. Nice. So yeah, that’s — that’s one of the first things we came up with, uh, for Gruff as — as was this and I knew obviously that I was gonna have to do something big and loud for Gruff because he’s this, you know, huge looming character in the film and he’s always stomping around and stuff like that. And um, so I had this idea of doing large sets of toms and when we would actually record it, it would be even more toms and larger toms and that sort of thing.
I augmented it with all kinds of different things, like these trash cans we have here today but we have these big metal vents and things so it wasn’t just a tom thing but you know, and it wasn’t the Japanese Tyko and it wasn’t, you know, its own thing combining the toms with these, you know, found instruments and we recorded it in this huge long reverberous tile hallway and we put a mike at one end of it so you end up getting this really big sense of space and something large. Ben will demonstrate this idea for you here.
So you see, even in this room which is kind of, you know, a dead room with all the carpet and stuff like that, you can still tell it’s a very powerful big sound. And so that’s one of the most noticeable things you’ll notice for Gruff in the film. Another thing that the director kept talking about was the idea that the storm itself is a character in the film.
So another thing that you heard in that cue was actually my favorite instrument that we came up with for this Film and I’m calling this the Dulsitar.
This is awesome!
So you’ve not talked about the wonderful Pipes yet.
OK, Pipes coming at you. I guess you can’t have this thing out here like this and not ask, cause that’s the question. What’s that thing behind you?
I’m trying to envision you in a hardware store going through and doing Gruff. What is that process for you?
Well it was a lot of fun, and I think, you know, one of the kind of like unintended messages so to speak that ended up coming out in the process of working on all this stuff with the film is that music is everywhere and music is everything.
I love that.
You know, there’s a musical element to everything that’s out there. It’s like, it’s in your world. It’s in everybody’s world, and so yeah, it was really fun. I mean a lot of people have asked like “where did they ask you to stop, or what are you doing,” that kind of thing? But actually mostly the reactions were all just curiosity. People were wondering what are you doing? And then of course, I’d say “well actually, I’m actually looking for sounds for this Disney film I’m doing.” And so I mean, what can I say? It was a lot of fun.
I can’t imagine going to go do that and saying “yeah, it’s for a Disney movie”.