Mike Reagan, aside from his various film (Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday or Elmo in Grouchland), TV, and videogame projects, has been our honored composer on Ape Escape Cartoons and the 52 episodes of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!. He came by the studio the other day and was telling me about the trés cool set up he’s put together for the music on Ape, and rather than my explaining it to you, I thought I’d let Mike do the honors himself:
I am having a BUH-LAST writing the music for Ape Escape! Working with Kevin Kolde and Karl Torge has really challenged me in the best way possible - really getting to stretch my muscles in this series. Their knowledge of music is pretty wide - we’re just a bunch of big kids doing what makes us laugh - it’s just fantastic. They introduced me to the world of Hoyt Curtin, Les Baxter, Bert Kaempfert and so many other great composers - music I’ve heard all my life, just hadn’t taken the time to really crawl inside it.
Each episode is pretty fast paced, with many twists and turns - so there’s just a ton of music to write. Everything from themes to accentuate the stupidity of some characters, to writing music in the style of Bernhard Kaun for the Frankenstein monster episode or 50’s style montages… the list goes on and on. Glad you liked the Frankenstein episode!
To quickly access each theme, I’ve created a system using pictures on a USB device that’s essentially 128 buttons that you can assign to just about anything. So, I basically save markers in Logic for each theme, then assign a series of key commands to a single button to grab what I’m hearing in my head and paste it at the right spot. After 18 episodes I’ve got over 40 buttons programmed right now, but there’s room for 128. I’m going to do the same thing for Wubbzy - get another box of 128 buttons and start organizing themes in the same way. For the pictures, I search through the Ape Escape quicktime movies and capture the screen shot that’s most appropriate for each theme. Specter, Jimmy, Nathalie, Monkeys, and Professor are the main themes, so there’s different (and multiple) pictures for them, but there are also montages, falls, stings, sinister themes, location based music like Paris, Hospital waiting room, Vegas, etc… that get pictures on their buttons, too. For instance, there’s a Paris love theme that has a picture of the Iefell Tower, and the barnyard / Turkey in the Straw tunes have pictures of a chicken.
It’s so much faster associating a piece of music with a thumbnail picture as opposed to remembering a marker number or a folder path… this keeps the creativity at the forefront, and the math and memorization on another planet.
To quote Napoleon Dynamite’s brother Kip:
“…I still love Technology, always and forever”