- Brian Jacques
Following my interview with Jack Procher, one of the composers for the Redwall Television Series, I was put in touch with his partner, Mr. Daniel Fernandez. Daniel was gracious enough to answer my questions and provide insight into what goes into the other half of ‘Redwall’s’ music.
Some portions of the interview, specifically those concerning the production of season three, were completed prior to it’s broadcast on Teletoon.
Martin (The Long Patrol): First, thanks for giving me the opportunity to conduct this interview!
Daniel Fernandez (Redwall Composer): It’s an honor and I appreciate it!
Martin: To begin with, what are some of the shows or movies you’ve worked on prior to “Redwall”?
Daniel: My Summer Story, Kimba the White Lion, Acapulco Heat, Little Men, Random Encounter, Alaska, Migrations…
Martin: What made you decide to enter the world of composing? Did you start out as a student of one particular instrument??
Daniel: Yes, my instrument is the piano. It was a natural progression and evolution from composing solo piano pieces to songwriting and moving on to more orchestral pieces.
Martin: What do you think are the most important traits aspiring composers need to have?
Daniel: First of all, a good imagination and the desire and passion to create something new.
Martin: Who were some of your biggest influences or inspirations?
Daniel: There are many, from Chopin, to Bach to Rachmaninoff to Stravinsky to Mahler, Mozart, Puccini, Vaughn Williams, Ravel, Villa – Lobos, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Art Tatum, Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis, The Beatles, Supertramp, Queen, Deep Purple, etc…
Martin: I have a friend who is pursuing a musical career and they’ve relayed to me that, in some circles, soundtracks aren’t considered “real music”. Have you ever encountered this prejudice and/or what are your thoughts on it?
Daniel: That depends on your definition of “real music” and if soundtracks do not fall into that category then hey, it’s whatever you believe… everybody has an opinion.
Martin: When I interviewed Jack Procher, he said that there were three or so composers on the “short list” for “Redwall” (and ultimately his selections were chosen). Were you one of those composers or are you and Jack partners who were considered together?
Daniel: Yes, we were considered together.
Martin: I noticed that you’re listed (along with Peter Branton, Mike Northcott, and Anthony Crea) as a “Music Editor” in the Credits. What exactly does a “Music Editor” do?
Daniel: The short story is, he or she edits the music that is provided by the composer.
Here’s the long story.
During a spotting session the director, producer, mix supervisor, [and] music editors watch the episode and decide where (at what SMPTE Time Code) the music is to come in and out at and, if needed, to highlight a character or scene with a particular instrument or motif, basically following the ebb and flow of the picture. They also discuss what style of music is needed, whether it is an action-adventure, danger, suspense, romantic, tender moment, etc… From this point, the music editor takes his or her notes made in the spotting session and edits the show with an appropriate selection of music that enhances the scene.
Martin: What would a typical day of composing be like?
Daniel: Getting to the studio and start coming up with an idea and let it evolve.
Martin: How do you go about thinking up your themes and melodies?
Daniel: Themes and melodies come to me by, first of all, by sitting at the piano and start playing, something usually comes up and if I like it, I will develop it.
Martin: Do you have a theme that stands out as a favorite?
Daniel: No, I don’t. So far, they all are special to me in their own way.
Martin: Have any themes ever been turned down by whomever has final approval? (the producer?)
Daniel: No, we have been lucky so far that way.
Martin: Are there any themes you worked on but decided on your own wouldn’t work for the show?
Daniel: Well, there have been times when my first attempt at a theme have been put on the shelf. But, this is not uncommon when you are trying to develop the right motif and feel for the character.
Martin: How does it feel to find out that, while Redwall’s fans are a very picky bunch, the music of the television series has been widely met with approval and praise?
Daniel: Well, Jack and I feel good about that and we hope to continue with the good fortune.
Martin: Did you think, going into this project, that the music would be something fans all around the world (like me) would seriously critique?
Daniel: No, I had no idea that you would feel so strongly about it, but I am happy that you are.
Martin: In other animated shows, there are sometimes occurrences which I call “contrast scenes” (if there’s an official term, I’m unaware of it) where the music and the visuals are at odds (yet not to the point of not fitting the scene). For example, peaceful music while there’s a battle, giving the fight an almost ballet-like feel. Have you ever employed this technique and would you ever consider doing it in Redwall?
Daniel: No. I haven’t had the opportunity as yet and whether I would consider it in Redwall, this would depend on the director and producer and what direction they wanted to go in.
Martin: I review the episodes each week on my website. In the reviews I’ve commented numerous times on the tapestry-esque endings of the first five episodes. The simple still-screens and the music combine to create, what I believe to be, the most powerful moments in the series and are easily my favorite part of the episodes. With no dialogue, it’s the music that really makes them great (good job!). Do you remember working on those particular scenes? Are there any scenes you especially enjoyed working on?
Daniel: It’s now a bit of a blur, being a few years later, but I especially enjoyed working on some of the battle scenes.
Martin: What has been your overall impression of Redwall and Mattimeo?
Daniel: The quality of work produced by Nelvana has been outstanding and it’s been a real pleasure to work on. The stories and characters have been intriguing and exciting. There is a lot of action and adventure in each episode. I get a lot of enjoyment from the series and I know that there are a lot of Redwall fans out there, so I hope it’s on TV for a long time to come.
Martin: How is your work on the third season (Martin the Warrior) coming along?
Daniel: It’s going along well, we have been asked to write some songs and some new themes for characters.
Martin: How is the workload for it compared to the first two seasons?
Daniel: By the time season 3 rolled around, the music library had already been established, so season 3 workload-wise wasn’t as heavy. But, from time to time they would ask for music to be written for a specific scene, if it couldn’t be covered in the existing library. Also, they started to have some of the characters singing, so we had to write some songs for season 3.
Martin: In the book version of “Martin the Warrior”, the character Rose sang often. Were those songs included in season three and did you write any music to accompany them?
Daniel: Yes, they are, and yes, I did write some.
Martin: Having established the feel of the series, are you experimenting in the new season with instruments that you haven’t used before or themes that are decidedly different from what’s been done?
Daniel: So far, we are keeping with the same orchestral pallete and traditional instruments as before.
Martin: In the interview with Jack I passed along the message that I and many other fans would love to see “Redwall’s” soundtrack released on CD. Have there been any developments on that front or is it time I start up a petition?
Daniel: Well, I don’t know for certain, but, it would be great to have one.
Martin: Thanks again for taking the time to do this. Is there anything you’d like to say to all the “Redwall” fans out there before we go?
Daniel: Yes, I would like to express my deep thanks to all the fans around the world of Redwall for their incredible enthusiasm and dedication to the series, and I look forward to a new season of great storytelling and adventures of Redwall.
My sincere thanks to Mr. Fernandez for taking the time to give The Long Patrol this exclusive interview!