Interview With Scooby-Doo! And The Gourmet Ghost Music Composers Jake Monaco And Matthew Janszen
Scooby-Doo’s latest animated movie – Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost is now available on DVD in the United States from today (11th September), the movie is also available for digital download. Before the DVD’s release, I had the opportunity to interview the composer of the new movie (and also the Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! animated series) – Jake Monaco and fellow co-composer – Matthew Janszen and ask them questions about the music on the new movie as well as any general Scooby-Doo questions.
In “Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost”, Scooby and his fellow Mystery Inc. investigators visit the Rocky Harbor Culinary Resort to meet Fred’s uncle Bobby Flay, a real-world celebrity chef. The gang soon learn that there’s more to the resort than haute cuisine after they find out about the legend of the Red Ghost and the disappearance of Bobby Flay’s great ancestor chef.
When the Red Ghost returns to haunt the inn, the gang teams up with Bobby and his fellow chef friend – Giada De Laurentiis to search for clues, but will history repeat itself with the possibility of another world-famous chef disappearing? Scooby and Shaggy are definitely going to enjoy this mystery solving adventure because of their insatiable appetite and love of food. Celebrity chefs – Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis guest star and voice as themselves in the movie.
Before getting into the interview, would like to thank Jake and Matthew for answering every question and also to Andrea Resnick at Impact24 PR for the opportunity. Also thanks to Scoobypedia (The Scooby-Doo Wiki), co-host of the Scooby Dos and Don’ts Podcast – Billy Seguire and Isma (@The_Ismazing) on Twitter for contributing questions.
More information about Scooby-Doo! And The Gourmet Ghost on the following link:
JM: Jake Monaco
MJ: Matthew Janszen
Scooby-Doo will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, the show has become one of the greatest animated shows of all time, can you tell me your favorite memories of the long-running franchise? (this can include movies, whole series or individual episodes)
JM: I truly can’t believe that’s it’s been 50 years of Scooby-Doo! That makes him, what…. 450 years old? The first iteration of Scooby-Doo that I remember watching on a regular basis was “A Pup Named Scooby Doo”. It was after that when I started seeing reruns of the original series. Those theme songs will forever live on in the “useless information” part of my brain.
MJ: My favorite memory of the franchise has always been the original theme song! I watched a lot of the reruns as a kid and the theme was always in my head! In fact it will now by in my head for the rest of the day! I also have fond memories of Scooby Doo at a local amusement park called Kings Island near Cincinnati which used to have various characters from the franchise walking around the park!
How did you start your career in film and TV scoring?
JM: For a couple of years after graduating college, I played in a band, did the singer/songwriter/tour around thing, until everyone else wanted to settle down with steady jobs and a family. At that point, I looked into the Film scoring program at USC. I visited the program in 2005 and immediately fell in love. I applied and was fortunate enough to be accepted for the ’06-’07 school year. Just as graduation was approaching, I began working with Christophe Beck as his tech assistant. This began a seven year mentorship which led me to where I am today.
MJ: My first time coming to LA and experiencing the film music world was when I participated in the Henry Mancini Institute in 2005. I just fell in love with the music scene and knew I wanted to move here. After finishing college I was awarded the BMI Pete Carpenter Fellowship where I was offered the opportunity to study with one of the greatest TV composers of all time, Mike Post. Mike was very kind and generous, and at the end of the fellowship introduced me to Christophe Beck. While working for Christophe Beck, I also met Mark Kilian who I assisted for many years. During that time I attended the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop with Richard Bellis to help develop my solo career, which eventually led to me acquiring my first television movie. Then little by little, project by project, I began to build the career that I have today.
I’ve heard that you use a range of unique instruments to create the film’s score, how do you decide which instrument has the sound you’re looking for?
JM: I love toys. Anything that can create a unique sound. The challenge sometimes comes with deciding the best way to implement that sound as it sometimes may not register as innately musical. In the case of Gourmet Ghost, Matthew and I didn’t end up using any custom instruments, however, a large portion of the film ties in to colonial times, so bringing in some period instruments, such as a fife, seemed only natural.
Do you get inspiration from the music from the prior animated series of Scooby-Doo and if so, what are your favorite compositions?
MJ: The main inspiration comes from using a combination of jazzy elements and orchestra which is reflected in the original series. Beyond that it’s basically starting from scratch because the surrounding mystery is brand new, as well as the locale and the characters.
How did you become the composer for Be Cool, Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo and the Gourmet Ghost?
JM: I got an email from my agent one day with a brief for “Be Cool” as they were heading into post-production. They had sent a two minute scene from the first episode and asked a few different composers to write a demo to the scene. There wasn’t too much direction to go on, so I opted to pull some jazzy inspiration from the original 70’s iteration and kick it up a notch to score the scene with a more modern animation approach. The creatives seemed to like it, so I went in for a meeting and was pretty much hired right there.
When the director and producer were looking at music for Gourmet Ghost, they went through a bunch of past Scooby music as well as other demo reels that composers had sent in, and they liked a lot of the material from Be Cool, specifically how themes had been threaded through the episodes. So, again, I was asked to come in for a meeting and was asked to come on board.
What’s the difference between composing for a movie and composing for a TV show?
MJ: The overall job is the same, which is helping to tell the story with music. But logistically the main difference between the two is schedule. TV schedules tend to be a bit tighter, and many times you are having to crank out a first pass of music for an episode in 1 week!
Who’s your favorite character in Scooby-Doo?
JM: Velma. I tend to overthink things. Plus I like orange.
MJ: I relate very much to Velma as well. I’m extremely analytical in everything that I do! However in “Be Cool” Daphne took on a kooky comedic vibe which I absolutely loved!
What’s your favorite Be Cool, Scooby-Doo episode and what piece of music did you enjoy composing the most in the show?
JM: Ooooooh tough one. “Me, Myself and A.I.” was definitely a fun episode from season one. Got to introduce some synth elements and bring in a slight flavor of dubstep into the show’s musical palette. The romp song that I got to write for that episode is also one of my favorites.
MJ: So many! I loved Screama Donna. I got to write a lot of classical piano music and even a piano concerto near the end, which as a pianist, is very near and dear to my heart.
When is the music done during the process of making an episode and movie?
JM: It varies quite a bit actually. If a composer is lucky enough to be brought on early, during production or even pre-production, then we get to start writing themes and putting together ideas before seeing picture or hearing any temporary music that anyone may have already become attached to. There tends to be a little more creative liberty that can be taken. However, most of the time, a composer comes on during post-production, when they are done filming and are going through their editing process. For a film, I have had anywhere from 2 weeks to 9 months.
Do you work with the show and movie’s writers to make sure you get the right tone of music for particular scenes and do you get to see the animation in some form before you start composing and producing music?
MJ: Animation is a long process and we usually don’t come on board till the very end after the script’s have been written, recorded and animated. So at our first meeting there is usually a rough cut of the animation ready for us to start scoring to. Sometimes we are brought in early during the script phase if there is a specific song that the characters will be singing. The animators will then animate to the song so everything lines up.
Warner Bros. Animation is currently running a Get Animated: Invasion Exhibit at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, which is an exhibit about the music in many Warner Bros. Animation and Hanna-Barbera cartoons and there’s a section dedicated to the music of Scooby-Doo, did you contribute your music for the exhibit?
JM: I have read about this and want to go so badly! To my knowledge, none of the Be Cool music is part of it, but I haven’t been down to the exhibit, so I’m not sure yet!
I’ve noticed that you’ve composed music for Amazon’s The Stinky and Dirty Show and Netflix’s Dinotrux, both are in a completely different genre to Scooby-Doo, how do you adapt to each show and produce the right sound?
JM: That is the first challenge that I face with every new project. What is the unique sound for this specific world? For Scooby, the jazz element had been established 50 years ago, so I took that into consideration. For Dinotrux, the briefing asked for elements of “Stomp” and “Blue Man Group” — so heavy on the percussive elements. So, I bought a bunch of pitched plastic tubes and built the sound of the show around those. For Stinky & Dirty, the show is all about fixing problems, typically using trash or found objects to do so. I figured, why not have this be the concept for the score as well. So I had some custom instruments built from hubcaps, pots and other things I gathered. My kitchen still no longer has a wok.
What was your main inspiration while composing the theme song from Be Cool, Scooby-Doo since it’s very different from the previous ones?
JM: Ha! Sadly, the opening theme song was not written by me. Long, somewhat humorous story that I’ll save for another time.
How do you capture the personality of each Mystery Inc. member in the music?
MJ: When the gang is working together we use our main mystery theme, but sometimes they split off in to smaller groups which is where each personality can begin to shine. It always boils down to how the characters react to the situations they are in. For instance, Scooby and Shaggy always tend to be together, and since they’re basically scared of their own shadows, we can score the scene in a comedically frightening way to reflect their personalities. Also anytime they spot food we like to make a meal out of that musically to show their love of food!
There’s a brand new Scooby-Doo animated series coming out in 2019 – “Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?” will you be composing music for the new series?
JM: I have been following that as well as the animated film coming out in 2020 I believe. No word yet, but I’m trying!.
Jake Monaco’s and Matthew Janszen’s IMDb Pages:
Jake Monaco’s IMDb Page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2606933/
Matthew Janszen’s IMDb Page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3313261/