Culture POPCast #1: Dynamic Music Partners Talk DC & Marvel TV Music

Welcome to the newest addition to the Skywalking Network – the Culture POPCast! This NEW podcast will go beyond the scope of the Disney umbrella. We’ll have conversations, interviews and games revolving around pop culture from the vintage era to today.  We won’t have a regular schedule for now, we’ll just put them up whenever we have content.

ON THIS EPISODE: Go behind the score with the Emmy-winning Dynamic Music Partners! We talk about composing scores for DC and Marvel TV series and working w/ Mark Hamill! Michael McCuistion, Kristopher Carter and Lolita Ritmanis have 25 years experience composing scores for animated DC and Marvel TV series. They are best known for ‘Batman Beyond’, ‘Marvel’s Avengers Assemble,’ ‘Justice League,’ and ‘Teen Titans.’

At WonderCon 2019, I had the opportunity to speak with Michael and Kristopher about their process and some of their new projects. I recommend listening to the entire interview here, as it contains musical examples as we talk about them. Scroll down if you’d rather read what the two have to say.

I spoke with Michael and Kristopher about the composition process for TV, which can be quite different than film.

Michael McCuistion: It’s really flexible, and we can depend on each other. We’ll split up a show and each of us will do certain excerpts from a show. And it all comes together in one musical voice. It really keeps the energy level high, and it also allows us to give our own internal perspectives. Shows can be done very quickly.

The Dynamic Music Partners often have about a week to compose one 20-minute show! TV animation is constantly evolving to keep up with growing kids, and often the composers find themselves writing for new shows.

Michael: Developing the sound of a show, a new project, we’ll take our cues from the producer, writers and director. What are they hearing or feeling? It’s a real collaboration. Back and forth dialogue really fine-tunes the exact sound and makes it super special and unique for that project.

In the audio interview with Michael and Kristopher, you’ll hear a snippet from ‘Batman and Harley Quinn’ which is entirely different from ‘Justice League’. It’s a great demonstration of the range a composer must achieve.

At WonderCon, a new Marvel Rising special, MARVEL RISING: HEART OF IRON premiered. I spoke with Michael and Kris about writing for an animated show that had a larger female audience and also incorporated popular songs written specifically for the show.

Kristopher Carter: Marvel Rising is a new show and it’s developing its fan base. The show is drawing in girls and women into the superhero world. They are stories that allow for having time to express feelings. Women process things different than men do.

Michael: We haven’t written any of the popular songs in Marvel Rising, but we are given the song before we compose. We’ve changed the sounds of the show slightly so it sounds more cohesive. So we have to write the score to go with the songs. We’ll change the size and scope and the sound of the score to match the different formats – movie, YouTube video, etc. It’s definitely a collaborative effort.

Speaking of collaboration, the Dynamic Music Partners wrote music for The Killing Joke, a controversial animated special featuring the iconic Joker, voiced by the even more iconic Mark Hamill!! Not only did they score the animation, they wrote a song for the Joker to sing!!

Michael: Yes we worked with Mark Hamill and had to record the song with him!

Kristopher: I was 5 years old when I saw him on my movie screen as Luke Skywalker. And he’s Mark Hamill! He is one of the iconic voices of the Joker, the character, and he hadn’t done it in awhile. But it felt like he was dropping into an old pair of shoes. He had to sing in character, and he just knocked it out of the park. It was unforgettable.

Michael: He’s a big film music fan, so thanks Mark.

You can follow the Dynamic Music Partners at @dynmuspartners and learn more about them at dynamicmusicpartners.com. Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron is available now on YouTube. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble can be found on Disney XD. Young Justice is on Cartoon Network. Justice League vs. The Fatal Five is a full-length animated feature available on BluRay or digital movie format. Watch them all and check out their amazing scores!

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