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Making Music for the DCAU

Often, the music in a television program will go unnoticed by the casual viewer or even the most rabid of fans. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the DC Animated shows dating back to Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. Every single subsequent series, from Superman to Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans, has had its own distinct musical style, delighting fans both new and old.

When the DC Animated Universe was still in its earliest stages, there was a large of array of composers working under the guidance of Shirley Walker. Since then, the team of DCAU composers has boiled down to the “Dynamic Music Partners” – Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion and Lolita Ritmanis. Recently, these three talented individuals took time out of their busy schedules to chat with us about the challenges and rewards of scoring TV shows about adults (or teenagers) who dress up in silly costumes.

Dynamic Music Partners Composers Lolita Ritmanis, Kris Carter, and Michael McCuistion.

Toon Zone: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you become interested in music?

Michael McCuistion: As far back as I can remember our home was filled with music. My mother was a choral music teacher, my father sang in the community choir, and my sister sang and studied piano as well. I started studying piano when I was five years old and continued pretty much non-stop through college. I was also active in the school band program (I played all the instruments in the clarinet family) and formed some groups of my own to try out arrangements and attend contests. By the time I was in high school, I found that I was choosing music for all my extra-curricular activities, and I especially enjoyed playing in the pit orchestras for stage productions; I believe I was instinctively drawn toward the interaction of music and drama.

Kris Carter: Music has been my passion as long as I can remember. My father was a minister, so I grew up surrounded by music at his church. I began studying the piano at age four, and creating little pieces was always a part of my training. By the time I was a teenager, I was composing in earnest. I had quite diverse musical interests—on one hand I was exploring classical music for chamber groups and small orchestra, and on the other I was writing songs with rock bands. I went to school at the University of North Texas, where I obtained a degree in composition. While there, I focused mainly on twentieth-century avant-garde composition, but I was exposed to quite a broad universe of music. North Texas not only has a world-class jazz program, but active ethnomusicology and early music departments, and it was so inspiring to walk through the halls and sample a hot bebop session, followed by a gamelan ensemble further down, and past a room where students were practicing shawms and baroque bassoons. I guess all of it made an impression on me, and it continues to influence my work to this day.

Lolita Ritmanis: I grew up in a musical family in Portland, Oregon. Both my parents were born in Latvia. The arts, especially music, are an integral part of our culture. My family was always very supportive of my musical dreams and talents. My childhood was filled with piano, flute and guitar lessons. I played and sang in both jazz and classical ensembles, performed in many concerts, and attended many competitions. I composed my first song at age 11. By age 16 I had toured the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, singing, playing and composing songs for a Latvian pop group. There are large Latvian song festivals every year somewhere in the world. I had the opportunity to compose, arrange and conduct for many of these festivals. This was a great benefit to my musical growth. When the time came to choose a place to study after high school, I made the trek down to Southern California and discovered the Dick Grove School of Music. That experience changed my life and my career goals.

TZ: What kind of background and training do you have?

LR: I completed the Composing and Arranging Program as well as the Film Music Program at Dick Groves. Every week we were writing music to picture and then recording our cues. The guest speakers who came to our classes were a “who’s who” of film music. I took a class with Lalo Schiffrin, where the assignment was to score the word “orange”. It was a great and inspiring training ground for my future career. At Dick Groves I met several people who would later help me break in to the business. I studied composition privately with composer Mauro Bruno. I also studied at Cal State Northridge.

MM: By the time I was a senior in high school I had decided to become a film composer, and in college I majored in music composition to learn basic classical skills that I could build upon for a career in the music business. I got my Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas—same university as Kris Carter! I then obtained a Master’s certificate in Film Scoring from USC, where I studied conducting to picture, synchronization, Hollywood-style orchestration and other specialized skills. During my USC education I was fortunate to study with many of the best film composers in Hollywood, including David Raksin, Bruce Broughton, Buddy Baker and Irwin Kostal, and attended master classes with Jerry Goldsmith, Henry Mancini and other greats. This was a great inspiration to me and really set the bar high for a career as a film composer.

TZ: How did each of you come to work on Batman: The Animated Series?

LR: I had been working in the film music industry for several years as a proofreader at the Disney and Warner Bros. music libraries. In addition to my usual work, there were occasions when a composer would be in a real time crunch, and I was fortunate enough to be there, ready to help with anything from orchestrating to composing. The head of the music library at the time was Joel Franklin. He, along with Patti Zimmitti the music contractor, recommended me to Shirley Walker, who had a plan to pick a handful of composers to mentor. After Shirley heard my demo, she gave me a call and asked if I was interested in working on Batman. I was thrilled and I jumped at the opportunity to work with her.

That is when I met Mike—we were Shirley’s first apprentices! Kris joined the team a bit later. We started out orchestrating for Shirley, which led to writing a few cues for “Christmas with the Joker.” Eventually she gave us a shot at writing a complete episode. My first solo was “It’s Never Too Late.” I must also give credit to the head of music at Warner Bros., Doug Frank. He was very supportive of Shirley’s plan to help us newcomers.

MM: I was working as a personal assistant to Mike Lang, a supremely talented keyboard player who does a lot of session work in Los Angeles. One of his technical consultants was Don Walker, who unbeknownst to me just happened to be Shirley’s husband. We were talking one day, and he found out I was a composer and asked me for a tape, so I gave him a video of a cue that I had written to picture as a demo for “Tiny Toons.” He passed that tape along to Shirley, who liked it enough to call me and asked if I’d like to try orchestrating a cue for her on Batman.

KC: I shared a music stand in the North Texas Orchestra with Shirley’s son, Ian, who’s a phenomenal bass player. Ian graciously opened the door to meet Shirley once I graduated from college, and after she heard a demo tape of mine she invited me to Los Angeles to be her assistant. In addition to typing faxes and making coffee, I was given an opportunity to orchestrate “Baby Doll,” and after that I had an opportunity to compose half the score to “Lockup.” Bruce Timm approved of the work, and I was able to compose “Catwalk,” one of the last episodes in the original Batman.

LR: Shirley created a real “training camp” for young writers, like myself. We will always have a deep sense of gratitude to her for giving us that opportunity.

MM: She was responsible for the beginning of my writing career.

TZ: You guys have also worked on some long-form stories: Return of the Joker, Sub-Zero, and Mystery of the Batwoman. Do you approach a long-form work in a different way than you would approach a TV episode?

MM: Actually, the only difference in my mind was the fact that the scenes tended to be longer, which gives the music more time to breathe. But other than that, I have approached every show I’ve written for as if each episode is a feature film. Thanks to the support of Doug Frank at Warner Bros. and Jean MacCurdy at Warner Bros. Animation, we had a larger budget for the music for SubZero than we did for the television series, so that gave us a lot more flexibility in the scope of the score, and we used that flexibility to hire a large live orchestra, a live big band, and a female choir to bring a true cinematic experience to the music.

LR: Yes, in the case of Mystery of the Batwoman, the story arc had more time to develop. Musically, I was able to paint with broader strokes. The collaborative process between me, Alan Burnett, and Curt Geda was very enjoyable. I would preview each reel for them before the final recording session, thus being able to make adjustments as needed based on their input. We completely approached it as a live-action film. Because of the amount of music that I had to compose and produce in a short amount of time, I relied on my husband, Mark Mattson, and Alan Derian for help with the orchestration and production of the score.

TZ: Were there any special challenges in scoring “Chase Me,” in which your score has the soundtrack all to itself?

LR: “Chase Me” was an absolute delight to work on. No sound effects! How glorious and fun it was to be given that kind of masterful visual sequence and asked to just “go write!” Although the picture came before the music, I wanted to create a homogenous feel for that little gem. The desired effect was to have this work feel like one piece of art, not separate elements per se. It was also great to have saxophonist and woodwind player John Yoakum as a featured performer on the entire “Mystery of The Batwoman” project. He made a great contribution.

TZ: Kris, was there anything special about composing for Return of the Joker?

KC: Because of the flashbacks to the original Batman series, we knew from the beginning the score would involve an orchestra. I think all of us approached the Batman Beyond series from an orchestral standpoint—we used harsh electronic elements in a symphonic fashion. Return of the Joker provided the opportunity to actually have the orchestra to blend with the heavy guitars.

TZ: How did you come up with the theme for Batman Beyond?

KC: The piece of music that ultimately became the theme to Batman Beyond started out on a CD of music Shirley, Michael, Lolita and I submitted to the producers to demonstrate that we weren’t just the “lush, symphonic Batman composers.” Bruce Timm had outlined to Shirley his vision for the score, along with a healthy dose of skepticism of our ability to produce it. The producers admitted that our CD was a hit, and they decided that one of my tracks would be the main title. I really enjoy watching that main title sequence—I think the images Darwin Cooke created for it are simply outstanding.

TZ: Lolita, how did you come up with the theme for Justice League?

LR: Arriving at the final version was a fairly long process. Bruce already had a very specific musical concept in mind. The assignment was to create a piece that captured the mood that he was attached to. There were many adjustments and revisions made along the way before we arrived at a version that both Bruce and I were satisfied with. This process is difficult, but it is a normal part of what composers go through in trying to fulfill the creative vision for a particular project. After all the hard work was done, I was able to record the theme at the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Bros. with a phenomenal L.A. studio orchestra. That made all of the effort worthwhile.

TZ: Michael, same question to you, but about the theme for Justice League Unlimited.

MM: I had a long meeting with Bruce, and we talked a lot about the scope of the show—how there would be many, many heroes, some that had never been on the screen before, and how the show was really opening up to become something much larger than the original Justice League series. So we decided to keep the orchestra and add to it other elements, especially more contemporary elements where the show would allow, to enlarge the musical vocabulary of the series to match the expanded cast of characters and larger scope of drama. He felt very strongly about including a live electric guitar player in the sound palette of the show, and he also felt that progressive rock was an appropriate “larger-than-life” genre that would fit well with the show’s new direction, so I immersed myself in that world and brought back to him the basis of what you know as the JLU theme. There are elements of that genre, like sudden tempo changes and having different distinct sections within a single piece (all in less than a minute!), that I wanted to incorporate to give the JLU theme an original and unique sound. After weeks of trying this and that and making small adjustments, we settled on a final version.

TZ: JLU has a very large cast of characters. Are there any challenges associated with writing scores for a show with such a large cast?

MM: If anything, I think having a large cast of characters just makes my job that much more exciting. When there are a large number of episodes to compose music for, it’s great to have the variety of different characters and personalities to bring freshness to each episode.

KC: We aren’t as “leitmotif”-oriented as on the original Batman series, but there are often moments where the heroes have their own musical signatures, and it’s fun to weave them into the score, sometimes overlapping and playing counterpoint to the character’s interaction on the screen.

LR: Truthfully, most of the episodes I have scored have dealt with only a few of these characters at once. My job is really is more about addressing the story than dealing with the fact that there are so many more characters. Bruce is very involved in our process. When we spot an episode with him, the goal is to leave his office with a strong sense of what his vision for the particular episode is.

TZ: Why was there a shift in musical direction when Justice League became Justice League Unlimited?

LR: I think there is always a desire by creative people to keep things new and fresh. I believe that was the idea behind this decision. As hired composers, it was not our decision to make. We have tried to incorporate the guitar into the new incarnation of Justice League. For me personally, it was difficult switching gears from a traditional orchestral approach to a more guitar-oriented approach when the show itself really wasn’t that different. As the show has evolved, so have our scores, and I believe we have definitely taken a step back more towards the classic approach, while using the guitar only in specific places for dramatic effect.

TZ: Is working on Teen Titans different from working on JLU?

MM: It is such a different show. JLU has a very strong history and legacy associated with the characters on the show, and it’s important to inject a sense of timelessness to those iconic characters.

LR: JLU‘s episodes have an “epic” quality to them, which often means the music must also be “epic.” But Teen Titans is all about taking musical risks. Glen Murakami is musically very open-minded. He discourages us from staying in one specific musical style.

MM: He doesn’t want to be boxed in by what would be considered “normal” cartoon music for his series.

KC: He won’t even tell us what his favorite moments are, simply so we won’t repeat them!

MM: We have a lot of freedom in how we write for that show. It already has a certain level of unpredictability visually, so the music really buys into that. Much of the time I’m playing against the picture, or I’m even playing against the genre that would be expected for a superhero-type show. It’s very refreshing, but I’m not sure that approach would work if Glen weren’t so interested in having each episode (sometimes each scene!) have its own musical world.

TZ: For example … ?

LR: “Haunted” is a very dark, “sound design” type of score. “Bunny Raven” has vaudeville energy. “The Quest” is orchestral, with an Asian influence.

KC: I approached the character of Terra by combining Ennio Morricone guitar with Celtic instruments, all on top of a heavy techno beat!

TZ: You guys have worked on many films outside of the various DC animated shows. Kris, for instance, has written for some feature films. How’s that different from writing for an animated show?

KC: Feature films often provide a chance to slow the pace down, contemplate a bit, and develop what it is you want the music to say. They also allow me to listen to a different muse, one who calls me to write styles and sounds that wouldn’t otherwise fit Superman going after the “Big Bad.”

TZ: Michael, you’ve written scores for video games. Is that a lot different from film and television scoring?

MM:It’s very different, if only because everything happens in reverse! Much of the music I have written for the Spider-Man games has been written before the picture has been finalized, and actually, in the case of the first Spider-Man game, before the game’s visuals were even conceived. Music becomes a part of the game early in the process, months before the game is finished, whereas in film and TV, we always write to an edited, locked picture, usually a couple of weeks or so before the episode’s master is made. The process of writing “mood pieces” not locked to picture feels very different as well, since I am determining the form and structure of the music, which normally would be determined by the picture editing. It can be very freeing.

TZ: Lolita, you did some work for another cool franchise.

LR: I was hired by composer Mark Snow to orchestrate for the X-Files movie. Mark is very talented and thorough in his musical vision. Jonathan Sacks and I were the principal orchestrators on this project. The recording sessions had tight security! We had to sign confidentiality agreements before being given cues to work on and before going to the recording sessions. The score was really great. It was an honor to be part of that project.

Apart from composing, by the way, orchestrating for other composers has been a large part of my musical career. I have had the opportunity to work for not only Mark, but for composers Michael Kamen, Basil Poledouris, Shirley Walker, and Carter Burwell, to name but a few. I don’t have very much time for that currently, based on the schedule demands of JLU and Teen Titans, but it is another part of the business that I really enjoy.

TZ: How do you go about preparing a score for an episode? Is there extensive sketching involved, or do you just plunge right into the composition?

MM: It depends on the needs of the episode. If there is a specific theme that needs to be created for a character or a situation, I might spend time working that out at first. For example, in JLU‘s “The Cat And The Canary,” I spent some time figuring out what Roulette would sound like. Then, armed with that material, I started writing at the beginning of the episode, and when I reached a scene with Roulette, I knew where I would go with that. Often there isn’t enough time to do anything but plunge right in, though, so that’s usually what I do. Things get worked out as I write.

KC: When I worked on the original Batman and Superman series, I would often spend several days sketching before I began to write a cue. That was when I was only working on one out of several episodes, when Shirley’s team had more members. Now that Mike, Lolita and I are handling two series on our own, the time to create has been compressed somewhat, but I’ve found as I’ve gained experience over the years that much of that initial sketching process happens instinctively now, and I’m able to conceive and refine the ideas as I go through the score after plunging in with “1M1″ at the beginning.

LR: I pray for some inspiration everyday, but I also know that no matter what, the job has to get done.

TZ: Are there any episodes you’ve scored that you’re particularly fond of?

LR: You’re asking us to pick a favorite child?

MM: I think I have a brief love affair with every episode.

KC: Right. One of my favorite moments is when I first get the work tape of a new episode, and I can simply sit and enjoy the show for the first time. I love being surprised by the unexpected moments and being as frustrated as anyone when “To Be Continued” pops up! To single out a few, boy that’s tough!

TZ: Look, we want names.

LR: Okay. “Little Girl Lost” from New Batman /Superman Adventures is one from way back.

KC: I loved scoring “Apokolips… Now!”

LR: More recently, our group effort on “Starcrossed” was satisfying. Scoring Grundy’s final moments in “Terror Beyond.”

KC: I think my favorites would be “Hereafter,” “Maid of Honor,” “Paradise Lost,” “The Once and Future Thing,” and “Task Force X.”

LR: I also really enjoy scoring Starfire episodes for Teen Titans, especially “Sisters” and “How Long Is Forever?” “Haunted,” which was really dark, and cerebral, was also I believe very effective.

MM: I had a great time using Theremin on the Teen Titans episode “Every Dog Has His Day.” How many times does a composer get to do an entire Theremin score?

KC: I enjoyed everything having to do with Terra and Mad Mod. The way the schedule worked out I actually did most of the episodes featuring those characters. Also, for Titans, “Overdrive” is one of my new favorites.

MM: I vividly remember scoring “In Brightest Day” from the Superman series. That was the first time I wrote a theme for a character, in this case Green Lantern. And I remember the wonderful orchestra we had that day. I could go on and on with this. Each one tends to be special in its own way.

TZ: Are there any particular musical influences—genres, songs, composers—that have heavily influenced you?

LR: Ennio Morricone’s scores for The Mission and Cinema Paradiso have deeply inspired me over the years. Dave Grusin’s On Golden Pond, Thomas Newman’s Little Women and Scent Of A Woman, and nearly every score by John Williams—all have influenced me. Chopin and Mozart are my favorite classical composers. A wide range of popular music inspires me, from Sting, Paul Simon, and Bonnie Raitt to some obscure composers and artists.

KC: I find myself inspired by great music-making, and it’s mind-boggling how many genres there are—far too many to know them all! I eagerly seek out opportunities to hear music that I’m otherwise not familiar with, just to help broaden my experience. The classical music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries really speaks to me, from the rich European traditions of Mahler, Wagner, and Brahms to the more stoic, methodical styles of Shostakovich and Prokofiev. In fact, I think Russian music from that period probably has had the biggest effect on me—I love Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. I also admire more recent composers: Joseph Schwanter, Jacob Druckman and John Corigliano.

MM: I’ve probably been influenced by everything I’ve heard or played since I started studying music. I don’t tend to gravitate toward one particular genre or composer or song, but I think I’m just as influenced by popular culture every day in all aspects of my life as I am by music of the past and the present. I listen to just about everything and enjoy it all.

TZ: Carl Stalling, famously, would lift musical moments from both popular and classical music for his cartoon scores. You can’t do Stalling-style scores for the DC animated cartoons, but are you ever tempted to crib (or have you actually cribbed) from a source in the public domain?

LR: Actually, quoting public domain material is commonplace, not only in animation but also in film/TV music in general. For instance, in the Justice League episode “Comfort and Joy” several Christmas favorites were incorporated into the score—”Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” “Nutcracker”, and so on.

MM: Unless I’ve been asked to write something that gives the same general feeling as another piece, I aim for uniqueness. Sometimes it’s appropriate to have a certain recognizable feeling about a piece and that is part of the story or the drama, but most of the time that would call unnecessary attention to the music, which would normally not be a good thing for the type of scores I’ve been writing. Using a piece that’s in the public domain is usually a dramatic choice made by the producer or director, and in that situation I’m just facilitating their choice.

LR: Sometimes the assignment is to write a “sound-alike.” In that case, it is completely intentional to write something which evokes the feeling or mood of a certain piece, composer, or musical genre without directly quoting the melody of the original piece. This is generally not the composer’s choice, but the choice of the producer or director.

KC: Batman Beyond‘s “Sentries of the Last Cosmos” episode, for instance, was all about parodying a certain famous science-fiction franchise, and I was directed to create a score that captured that flavor as much as possible. If you listen closely to the score, you can probably identify cues that were modeled after a certain very famous composer’s style—it was a lot of fun to try to capture the sound, yet remain a safe, “legal” distance from it!

TZ: How is the music credited when it uses something from the public domain?

LR: The cue sheet credit reads “Music arranged by.” On JLU, we do quote each other’s thematic material quite often. I have quoted Mike’s “Aquaman Theme” and Kris’s “Wonderwoman Theme” on numerous occasions. This is planned and accounted for on the music cue sheet.

TZ: Have you ever listened to one of your scores and realized that it is unintentionally close to another source?

MM: Let’s face it. With only twelve notes to choose from and about five hundred years’ worth of music that’s been written so far, things are bound to get repetitive! There have been a couple of times I’ve had to call up a friend and ask if they’ve already heard something I’ve written.

TZ: Are there any particular places that you look for inspiration in your scores?

KC: Deadlines.

MM: I look to the picture. Whatever needs to be communicated through music, the seed of that exists somewhere in the picture, and if I’m not finding that seed, then maybe I need to re-think whether there should be music in that scene after all. If I looked outside the picture for my inspiration, then I would be injecting something foreign into the drama that I think would feel forced, so I try to start with what I’ve been given and let the music flow from that.

I feel fortunate in that the shows I’ve been working on for the past fifteen years have been really great—the writing, the visuals, the voice acting, sound design; everything is such high quality. I usually find something inspiring about each episode I’m writing for. Each one has something in it that I’m fond of. Sometimes everything just comes together naturally and “works” right away, and that’s always nice. The Aquaman two-parter “The Enemy Below” was like that. And the music for “A Better World” also seemed to just flow forth. The story on that show was so good it was as if the music was already there.

KC: Actually, I don’t really find it necessary to look to outside sources to do my work, either. I find it very inspiring to hear great film music, and very educational as well, but that speaks more to my whole musical being than simply the composer portion.

TZ: What about general inspiration? Where do you go just to refresh the creative wellsprings?

MM: To the park! Seriously, I try to get out of the house and do something completely non-musical. I also like to sit in silence, preferably outside, and enjoy a lack of sound for a while. Great artwork is very inspiring to me—sculpture, painting, architecture, design. Spending time with friends and family is essential—composers don’t get a lot of human contact when we’re in our caves writing away. I also like to travel when I can.

LR: Travel is the best medicine for me, too. Seeing the world, immersing myself in other cultures, or just plain indulging my senses—by swimming in tropical waters or breathing in the crisp air in the Pacific Northwest. On a daily basis, I draw a great deal of inspiration from my children and my husband. My life is not all about composing music for these animated series. It is just one facet.

KC: I find that live music is the most refreshing to me—my wife is a concert violinist and conductor, and I go to many of her performances. It is so rejuvenating to hear musicians pouring their souls into a work in person. It helps remind me why I’m here—why I wanted to create music in the first place. But there is constantly music in my head—I never listen to music when I’m driving because the whole thing becomes a big mess!

TZ: Have you done any non-film-score musical composition?

MM: Yes, I’ve written some concert music, most recently a piece for Symphonic Wind Ensemble based on the painting “The Raft Of The Medusa.” It was performed in Texas several years ago. I’ve written choral music, chamber music, and arrangements for everything from recorder ensembles to gospel choir accompanied by full orchestra.

LR: I’ve written four original musicals, several choral works, including a cantata which was performed at Lincoln Center, and an original work for choir, childrens’ choir, soloists, and chamber ensemble, performed at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. I have over one hundred songs plus several chamber music works in my library.

KC: I’ve had commissions from various soloists for chamber pieces, and recently had the premiere of the first four songs of an eventual large-scale song-cycle for soprano and chamber orchestra. I have some sketches for a large choral work as well as two works for orchestra, but I haven’t been able to finish them yet. On a completely different note, I’m toying with the idea of something more in the pop realm, but it’s on the back burner for now.

TZ: Who or what is your favorite song, composition, composer? Other than things written by each other.

MM: My favorites change by the hour. I listen to literally every genre of music (when I’m not writing) and so many different composers and bands. Honestly, I can’t exclude Lolita, Kris or Shirley Walker from my “favorites” list. I am constantly surprised, inspired and motivated by what they write. I’m their biggest fan.

LR: I don’t have just one favorite composition or composer.

TZ: Is there anything or anyone you just despise?

LR: My brain doesn’t really go there.

KC: I can’t really think of anything I despise. Everyone it seems has something to say in their music, and I want to try to hear it with an open mind.

TZ: Everyone else gets songs stuck in their heads. Do you have that problem?

KC: Earworms! Yes, I have a chronic case of it! It can be anything, from something my wife is practicing to something on one of our son’s childrens’ videos, to something I might hear playing in the department store. If you know of a cure, please help me!

MM: With me, more often than not it’s TV themes from the 60′s and 70′s. They were so catchy. That can be really annoying when you’re trying to write music for a scene where the universe is about to collapse onto itself.

LR: For me, usually it is something my children Andris, Aija or Ilze are practicing on their instruments any particular week. One week it’s the first-trumpet part Andris has been practicing for a piece called “Red Car” by Roger J. Przytulski’s “Red Car. Another week it’s “Trumpeters’ Lullaby” by Leroy Anderson.

TZ: What are some of your plans for the future?

KC: Trying to become a better composer, always trying to learn something new, trying to become a better person. Big goals, and something I have to work hard at every day. Where is the ultimate destination? Who knows–but we have to make sure we enjoy the journey along the way.

MM:I love working on the shows I’m working on now—they are of such high quality. There will be more Teen Titans and Justice League Unlimited episodes coming up, which Lolita, Kris and I will continue to score under the umbrella of our company, Dynamic Music Partners. I’m always on the lookout for long-form projects, and a feature film now and then would be nice, too.

LR: We are in a really good groove right now. I am blessed to work with Mike and Kris, truly brilliant composers. We have a healthy competitive spirit between the three of us. It keeps me on my toes! I am often blown away by their work, which only inspires me to want to do better.

On a different note, this summer my family will travel to Riga, Latvia, along with a cast of sixty from the US and Canada. A musical I have co-written will be performed at the National Theatre for two weeks in July.

TZ: Finally, do you guys get free recordings of your own scores?

KC: I do all the final mixes in my own studio, so I always make sure there is an extra copy for my archives, yes.

MM: But we do have to buy our own CD-Rs.

LR: I sure wish we could make them available to the public!

TZ: Thanks so much for your time and for answering our questions. Good luck on the shows!

MM: Many thanks, Toon Zone!

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