• Daniel Ingram Interview has arrived!

    Tekaramity has recieved the much awaited interview from Daniel Ingram himself.  For those of you that don't know who that is, go listen to any song at all in Friendship is Magic.  Those ridiculously addicting melodies are all his work!

    We couldn't do a direct interview, but we were able to send him 20 questions and receive 18 back!  So check them out below after the break! There are some EPIC responses here.

    Hasbro has asked that this remain as-is as possible, so my normal color coded weirdness is going to be a bit less this time.  

    Interview / Q&A
    Daniel Ingram
    MLP: Friendship is Magic song composer
    Equestria Daily administrator: Sethisto ([email protected])
    Interview conducted by: Tekaramity ([email protected])

    My Little Pony and all related characters and indicia are ©1982-2011 Hasbro.      All rights reserved. Equestria Daily claims no ownership of the aforementioned.

     1. Hello, Mr. Ingram. Thank you very much for taking the time to communicate with the MLP: Friendship is Magic fanbase. Let's begin then. First, about your history - what doors opened that started your career composing for animation, and what shows have you scored / contributed to so far? Do you compose outside of animation?

    My first real break came in the form of an apprenticeship with veteran animation composer Hal Beckett, here in Vancouver, B.C. Hal taught me the business and also gave me opportunities to score scenes in many of his shows, including Pucca and Ricky Sprocket.
    I also was doing a lot of live action scoring at this time, including a dozen documentaries for Bravo in a series called “On Screen,” a college sitcom for MTV called “About a Girl” plus a handful of made-for-TV movies.
    About 3 years after starting my internship with Hal I was offered an opportunity to submit a demo for the reboot of George of the Jungle, and also Martha Speaks, a new PBS educational series. I didn’t get George, but I did get Martha, and that’s when I officially hung out my shingle for the first time as an animation composer.

    2. Continuing with your personal story, what sorts of music and musical productions do you yourself enjoy, both to inspire you and just for personal pleasure?

    I’m a huge fan of animation in general and always have been. I think great animation and great stories are very inspiring. I watch just about everything that comes out. My favorites are Finding Nemo, The Iron Giant, and most recently Despicable Me and The Illusionist. The music in these productions are usually phenomenal. Guys like Michael Giacchino, Thomas Newman, Randy Newman, and Ron Jones from the Family Guy, all write tremendous music.
    I also listen to a lot of pop music and comb YouTube for new artists doing their own songs as well as covers. There’s such an abundance of talent out there... that’s probably what inspires me more than anything. 

    3. This is jumping ahead a bit far, but what are your future goals and dreams in the realm of music? TV shows, movies, Broadway musicals, etc. What does Daniel Ingram ultimately aspire to create?

    Right now I’m exactly where I want to be professionally. I’m currently working on some amazing shows which offer me a great variety of creative challenges. But in the future I want to keep pushing my songwriting and scoring to new levels and out in all directions. The great thing about music is there are always new places to go, and more to learn, and new artists to work with.

    More specifically, I’d like to do a musical and also work with a live orchestra on a feature film. Both of those things would be pretty cool.

    4. Excellent! On to MLP: Friendship is Magic itself, then. You compose all of the vocal songs, correct? Will Anderson handles the rest of the score. What brought you to this show in particular?

    DHX Media in Vancouver produces MLP: FiM, and I’d been working with them for years. Sarah Wall was my producer on Martha Speaks, and I’d also worked with the Director, Jaysson Thiessen, on Pucca. When Hasbro Studios asked them to suggest composers my name came up. I wrote the “Laughter Song” that Pinkie Pie sings in episode 1 as my demo for them, using Lauren’s lyrics. Fortunately for me they loved it and hired me to write all the songs in the show, as well as the new theme song. 

    5. I'd love to learn about your creative process. That's always insightful. How do you come up with an idea for a tune? Do you generally have access to episode materials such as storyboards and layouts for guidance in this?

    On MLP, first we record the voices and then we storyboard, so the songs need to be recorded at the same time as the show’s dialogue. Therefore, I have to write the songs based off the script. That way the storyboard artists have the completed song when they plan the animation.
    Sometimes the writers are very specific with their musical references and will identify what style the song should be. Usually Lauren or the directors will already have an idea of what style of song they envision. My challenge is to meet and hopefully exceed their vision for how it will sound. 

    6. In turn, how long do you typically have to complete a tune for an episode? How does that process - from composer, to production, to broadcast - typically flow, and what's your role after song composition?

    Typically I write the core of a song over a day or two, depending on how ambitious it is. Then I bring in a demo singer and we record a bare bones version of just piano and voice. Once I get this demo approved by the directors and Lauren, then I proceed to produce the song, record the instruments, etc. Next it goes to Hasbro and the HUB for notes. Then when everyone is happy with the demo we record the cast. Lastly, the song is mixed and then sent off to the production company for use in the final product. The entire process can take several months in the end.

    7. Is the music composed for MLP: FiM thematically or structurally different from the music you've created previously? If so, what stands out? What tools & equipment do you employ in creating these catchy FiM songs?

    Well, as more and more songs get written for FiM the range of styles just keeps expanding, but typically I try to do a combination of pop-based guitars and drums, blended with electronics and synths and then fleshed out with a nice big orchestra to give the songs some scale.
    On shows like Adventures of Chuck and Friends, I just write straight ahead rock and roll songs. On a show like Martha Speaks, the songs are mostly orchestral in nature, with one or two singers. MLP is much more ambitious than most cartoons. The songs have large vocal textures, often as many as 5 soloists and lots of harmonies. So, for MLP I feel like I’m really pushing all the time to make the songs extra special and unique. You’ll hear this more and more in the upcoming episodes.

    8. My Little Pony has a well-structured world and mythos. What do you find your strongest influences, technically and creatively, to be when composing songs for an established series incarnation like MLP: Friendship is Magic?

    MLP: FiM is a very stylish and ambitious show, and as such the music needs to be as good as possible to live up to the production. The show has a magical quality and I think Will has done a great job making the underscore really epic and rich. I try not to let the fact that MLP is an established series influence or intimidate me though. I think it’s an exciting project and I just trust my own instincts and try to keep improving.

    9. Is your involvement with the show totally separate in location and development, or is there substantial cross-communication with other departments? Do you handle any lyrical composition or direction as well?

    Generally, the lyrics are provided in the script, but I often have to modify them to varying degrees once the song starts coming together. I work from my studio in Vancouver, not far from DHX but not part of it. For each song there is usually a conference call between Lauren and the directors and myself. We review the plan, and then I just go do my thing. It’s been a great time so far though. Hasbro and the creatives are always happy with my first pass, so I’ve been blessed with a project where our creative visions are very in sync.

    10. Let's touch on a few specific songs. The theme tune is easily the most well-known. It's quite a show to hear it start up normally, only to see Rainbow Dash burst through the clouds as it kicks up! How does one go about re-inventing such a longstanding jingle?

    Well that’s a great question. When Hasbro asked me to record the theme song I knew I wanted to give a nod to the well-known original, but I also wanted to create something new and edgier. The challenge was that Lauren really wanted to have each character featured (and 5 is an odd number!), but also to tell Twilight’s story about the value of friendship. That’s a lot to pack into a short song, but I’m really happy with how it came together in the end.

    11. Most songs in the show really fit the personality of the character singing them. For Winter Wrap Up, what prompted the idea for everypony to sing? Do you decide which characters sing which songs, or do others decide?

    Again, the script often includes specifics about who will sing what. “Winter Wrap Up” was a complicated one because it changed after we got into animation. I recorded only Twilight singing the lead in the chorus originally, and the cast just singing the backup. Then it was animated and we realized we needed to go back into the studio and get all the ponies singing different sections and solos in the chorus as well. So the end result was as much influenced by the clever board artist, as it was by the writer herself. 

    12. Along that line, if you had full artistic freedom in choosing the setting/characters for a My Little Pony song, what would you like that song to be about - and which characters would you choose for it?

    I’m certainly open to suggestions! Maybe Rarity singing a love song to herself? Or Rainbow Dash singing a Wonder Bolts Theme song? I’d love to hear what people think about that. 

    13. Sounds like solid additions to the show! Speaking of the show itself, have you had the chance to watch it - to see your songs in action, or just to check it out for fun?

    For sure! I try to catch as many episodes as I can of every show I work on. It’s the best way to see what’s worked and what things can be improved. I get a kick out of hearing my music on TV, but I’m also very critical, and sometimes spend more time cringing over the littlest things in the music than just enjoying the show for what it is. 

    14. Have you heard the online chatter about the show? It has gained a sizable following outside of its target audience. How does reaching a larger audience and reading any fan feedback impact you? What do you make of it all?

    Well, it’s only recently that I’ve come to understand just how positively people are reacting to the show. I think it’s great that so many adults are also so enthusiastic, and to be honest it doesn’t surprise me. On Martha Speaks I kept getting feedback from people saying, “I’m 22 and I love this show…” or “I’m 30 and is it ok that I watch this every day?” I guess there’s this preconception that cartoons are only for kids, but I know that’s not the case. It only impacts me in that it’s very satisfying to know I’m part of such a popular production, but I don’t think it affects the work I do. I always start out with the same thing in mind: Create music that I’m excited about and stand behind 100%. 

    15. A fan who goes by Eurobeat Brony has created several quality remixes of your songs in Eurobeat style on Youtube. I think they're spectacular. Have you heard them? Either way, what's your take on any reinterpretation of songs you've written?

    Eurobeat Brony is awesome, and yes I’ve definitely checked out his work. He’s made some great arrangements and even extended some of the shorter songs into longer melodies. The guy is talented and it’s an honor to have people get inspired enough by the work I do to go put their own stamp on it. That’s the great thing about music too… it’s such a fluid art form. As I mentioned earlier, one of my favorite activities is going on YouTube and hearing covers of my favorite songs done in new and unexpected ways. We’re just lucky to be in a time when these things can be shared between so many fans. What did we ever do before YouTube!?

    16. Thanks a lot. Couple of closing questions left. Have any wise advice for students & amateurs looking to get into your particular field of work?

    Writing music for TV involves a lot of different areas of knowledge. There’s so much to learn in fact that I think the only real way to break in is to apprentice with someone already well established in the business. No school can really prepare you for the intricacies of this business. So my advice would be this: learn the basic music technology on your own, like Logic by Apple, and start writing a ton of music. Just have fun, experiment, play around, get your chops up. Learn to write quickly. Maybe you’ll even find some starter projects to work on via film schools, or the Internet. Then make a demo reel from all of this and see if you can find someone in your community to take you on as their apprentice. In Canada we actually have a guild that pays aspiring composers to apprentice with senior members of the guild. It’s an amazing program. If you can find someone like that you’ll be on your way. 

    17. Quick fun one: do you have a favorite song you've written for MLP? "All of them!" is an answer, but it's not too satisfying to hear, haha. If it's an as-yet-unaired song, got any hints so we can keep our ears open?

    Well there are some really special things on the horizon. My favorite song for Season 1 hasn’t aired yet, but you’ll know it when you hear it because it’s pretty epic. I recorded a 20-person choir in Bryan Adam’s studio for this particular number, and every lead pony gets a solo. I also always liked the Laughter Song from the first episode, since that’s what started it all. I actually play that one on my acoustic guitar from time to time and it makes for a pretty good unplugged version!

    18. Thank you very much for your answers and for taking time out of your schedule to communicate with the fans. It's been a true pleasure. Do you have any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

    I just want to thank all the fans of the show for being so positive and enthusiastic about the music. I know Will appreciates it too. And to thank you, Tek, for the interview, and Sethisto for maintaining such a great fan blog. It’s been my pleasure too!


    And thank you Mr. Ingram for this awesome interview!  I never dreamed it would be so extensive.  Your entire team has been amazing to our strange pony community, and all of this direct feedback is definitely a driving factor for this show's crazy internet success!