Interview with the Talented Composer Jake Monaco

Jake and Family <3

Jake and Family <3[/caption] When I started working on Mommy Makes Time I had no idea the different places this little project would take me. One of the amazing opportunities I have through Mommy Makes Time is meeting and working with amazing artists in children’s entertainment. Never had I imagined that I would get a chance to talk with artists that create the music on some of my, I mean my children’s, favorite shows (Ok I admit I am and will always be a huge fan of cartoons and children’s films). I was lucky enough to recently interview Jake Monaco. Jake is an amazing artist and his music is currently featured in three family-favorite animated series:

We are huge Scooby Doo fans in this house and when the new Be Cool Scooby Doo came out we caught every episode. It was fun to see the new take on this classic. The soundtrack to this show is fun, funky and makes this revamp unique in it’s own right! If you haven’t caught this yet you can find it on Cartoon Network. We have caught a few episodes of Dinotrux and would also highly recomend checking it out.

Along with these amazing shows, Jake has also been a composer and producer of additional music for Christophe Beck, having contributed to big names such as Frozen, The Hangover Trilogy, The Muppets and Waiting for Superman. He creates custom instruments out of everyday objects, finding music in everything. Above all, he is a devoted father and husband. Check out our interview below:

MMT: First off, I grew up with the classic Scooby Doo and was a huge fan. My son has loved the classic series for most of his short life. Were you a fan of the original series?

Jake: Absolutely! As well as subsequent incarnations like Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo and A Pup Named Scooby Doo. They were in regular rotation for my Saturday morning lineup as a kid.

We are huge fans of the new Be Cool Scooby Doo series and your distinct sound definitely brings something new to the revamped classic. What was your inspiration in creating this unique score?

I remember there being a jazz influence to the otherwise small orchestral score of the original series, and I wanted to maintain a hint of that in this newest version. Be Cool focuses much more on the comedy and banter between the characters, so the music often caters to that. One of my favorite things about this show is that the score varies slightly from episode to episode, depending on where (or when) the gang is solving the mystery at hand! Incorporating different instruments to match the set pieces is a challenge, but it makes every episode special; writing the score never gets boring! One of my favorite things about the scoring the series is the different arrangement of the end credits theme for each episode, which embraces the unique musical characteristics of where the gang cracked their latest case.

Do you have a favorite composer or artist? Favorite music genre that you pull inspiration from?

I am a big Thomas Newman fan. From the drama of Shawshank Redemption to the spirited comedy of Wall-E and Lemony Snicket’s, Newman’s scores are always so impressive and unique. Otherwise, I feel like I can find inspiration from almost anything, whether it’s a classic John Williams film score or the latest Beyoncé hit.

Working on children’s animated series looks like it would be an amazing (and fun) career! Was this something you had always wanted to do or something that evolved as your career took off?

It’s great! Especially since I have a two-year-old who can enjoy The Stinky & Dirty Show now, and in a few years, I look forward to watching Be Cool Scooby Doo and Dinotrux together. Working on these series is something that helps connect my work and family life. It’s not something that I ever anticipated doing, but being open to trying anything (and everything) is the best way to find professional happiness and success (in my opinion). Plus, creating scores for animated shows makes going to work every day… never really feel like work! I love scoring adult comedies, like Absolutely Fabulous and Keeping Up With The Joneses for the same reason: I get to help enhance the comedy!

What was your biggest obstacle in getting to where you are in your career? Do you still find obstacles even with your work on all those amazing projects?

I started my musical career wanting to be a “rock star,” pursuing the singer/songwriter path, so I never studied piano or classical orchestration. Over the course of the last decade, I’ve had the privilege to be a part of so many amazing projects and have taken every opportunity to learn along the way. There are always new obstacles, and it’s one of the things I love about what I do. Everyday is something different! Sometimes the obstacles come from imposed deadlines, and sometimes they are self-imposed, especially when I see the opportunity to do something new and different from what I’ve done before.

What would be your dream series or film to work on? Or is there a series or film that you would have loved to work on?

My favorite movie as a kid was the original Ghostbusters from 1984. My family often quotes the film due to its constant repetition in our home. With the franchise’s reboot, I hope there may be an opportunity to be involved in some facet! Otherwise, I still love songwriting, so being involved in a musical is another thing I’d like to tick off my bucket list.

My blog started as an attempt to talk about balancing work, family and personal life. How do you balance a busy career and small child? What is your biggest obstacle?

I think this is a challenge for everyone. My biggest obstacle is probably myself. I work out of a garage-turned-studio behind my house, so there is enough of a separation between “home” and “work,” however… the temptation to procrastinate and run inside to play with Hot Wheels or watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is sometimes too great! I’ll typically get up with Tommy in the mornings so that we all get at least an hour together. Then, at the end of the day, we get to spend another hour or two eating dinner and playing before bedtime. If I still have more work to do, then I just walk back out to the studio and finish what needs to get done.

I’ve heard you have an extensive collection of custom instruments. Do you have a favorite? What was your inspiration for creating these unique pieces?

I’m always looking for objects that can make some sort of sound, whether they’re meant to be instruments or not. The Stinky & Dirty Show focuses on the two main characters trying to solve problems out of found objects, so I figured that would be the best way to approach the score as well! Instead of a conventional shaker for a rhythm part, I found some small metal pots that I clamped to a piece of wood, then I played them with wire brushes. I also have Ukuleles and banjos made from cigar boxes and hubcaps…you name it – the possibilities are endless! They all have a special place in my studio. 🙂

[caption id="attachment_6235" align="aligncenter" width="273"]Wine Box Bass Wine Box Bass

Hubcap Banjo

Hubcap Banjo

Cigar Box Violin

Cigar Box Violin

I’d like to thank Jake for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. Learn more about Jake and his projects by conneting with him on Facebook and Twitter! You can hear some of his music in the theme for Be Cool Scooby Doo!

Disclosure: Mommy Makes Time receives products in order to conduct reviews. No monetary compensation was provided unless noted otherwise. All opinions are 100% my own. Some posts may contain affiliate links that I receive commission or payment from in exchange for referrals. In the event of a giveaway, the sponsor is responsible for delivery of the prize, unless otherwise noted in the posting. I only recommend products or services I personally use and believe will be a good fit for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 225: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

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One comment on “Interview with the Talented Composer Jake Monaco

  1. Sarah Muennix

    Seriously this is such a cool interview!! Thank you so much for sharing – I LOVE IT!

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