Interviewed by Justin D Williams
Otakus and Geeks had a chat with composer Sebastain Evans. We talked to Sebastain about his musical influences, TMNT and what's it's like composing for TV. Invigorating several hit animated television shows with his unique style, Sebastian has received considerable acclaim from fans and critics alike. Most recently, Sebastian’s distinct sound has helped reinvent the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise starring Seth Green and Sean Astin. With his head-bob inducing blends of musical styles, Sebastian provides a score that’s helped reinvent Nickelodeon’s Emmy-winning series for a whole new generation. Sebastian has also created scores for other hugely popular shows including Cartoon Network’s Ben 10: Omniverse, starring Yuri Lowenthal and Joe DiMaggio, Transformers: Animated, starring David Kaye and Tara Strong as well as Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go, starring Greg Cipes and Mark Hamill for Disney. He has also worked on various projects for Warner Brothers and Adult Swim.
Otakus & Geeks: Do you remember that very moment where you fell in love with music? That moment you said okay this is what I want to do with my life.
Sebastain Evans: I’m not sure what moment I fell in love with music though I’m sure it was very early on in my childhood. I distinctly remember when I wanted to do this with my life. I was 7. My father took me to see Return of the Jedi. Although I enjoyed the movie thoroughly, it was John Williams’ score that captivated me. At the time, I didn’t know what that job was but I new I wanted to do it.
Otakus & Geeks: Who were some of your musical influences growing up?
Sebastain Evans: So many. Some of my early influences growing up were Raymond Scott, Bernard Hermann, George Gershwin, Danny Elfman, Peter Tchaikovsky, Edvard Grieg, Dr. Dre, John Williams (of course). As I got older I acquired more influences like Benny Goodman, Timbaland, Bjork, Nabuo Uematsu, Thomas Newman, Massive Attack, Michael Nyman, Yoko Kanno, Tool.
Otakus & Geeks: Can you give us a little glimpse of your process of making a score? How do you approach making the music that fits the tone of a scene? scene? Do you watch the clip first and get a feel of the emotions and go from there? Or do you already have an idea on what sound you want to bring?
Sebastain Evans: My process usually starts with me watching the episode all the way through about 8 or 9 times while tinkering around on the piano. From there I begin to identify what is needed in certain scenes whether that be establishing a mood, enhancing emotional cues, or mapping out action sequences.I’ll then have a meeting with the director and we’ll go over what we both think is needed and identify what sections the score will be crucial to the episode. From there, everything usually falls into place.
Otakus & Geeks: You’ve scored for many different animated shows such as Transformers, Ben 10, Super Monkey and of course TMNT. What is like to record for such an iconic franchise as TMNT and Transformers?
Sebstain Evans: It’s a dream come true! I know that’s an over used phrase but it’s completely accurate. I never thought when I was a child watching Transformers and TMNT and begging my parents to buy the toys that I’d one day be creating music for those franchises. It’s a humbling honor to be associated with properties that were such a huge part of my childhood.
Otakus & Geeks: Now that we’re on the topic of Turtles. We heard from the grapevine that Donny is your favorite turtle. He’s my favorite as well. What is it about Donny that you love so much?
Sebastain Evans: I’ve always identified aspects of other characters I like in him. He’s R2-D2-like in his focus and resourcefulness. He’s Batman-like in his detective-like attention to detail as well as his intelligence and ability to create tools to give the turtles an edge over the enemy. Also, he’s just a genius!
Otakus & Geeks: We are seeing a rise of different ethnicities in this industry to finally show their composition skills (at least in Hollywood). As a black composer how important is it for you to not only show your talents, but to keep opening doors for the next generation?
Sebastain Evans: The increase in diversity is amazing. I’m also surprised by how fast the industry seems to be changing in that respect. But I also think the simple awareness of seeing someone of your ethnicity thrive in a particular profession is grossly underestimated. Sometimes when minorities don’t see people of there ethnicity in any given profession it can often create a mental limitation that in turn helps to perpetuate real world limitations. I believe diversity is key in dismantling those limitations so the next generation can aspire to be whatever they want regardless of there ethnicity.
Otakus & Geeks: What is the challenging part for you when it comes to scoring an episode?
Sebastain Evans: DEADLINES! In TV animation, the turn around time for an episode is very fast compared to movies or non animated TV shows so I’m always in a race against time to get the episode done and sounding as good as possible. I’m one of those people that needs a deadline or I could spend days perfecting 5 seconds of a single cue. I do believe the awesome factor goes up the more time I have though.
Otakus & Geeks: Can you tell us what is up next for you and how people can follow you on social media?
Sebastain Evans: What’s next for me is Season 5 of TMNT! Also, people can keep an eye on what I’m doing on my Facebook and Twitter pages. People can also check out some of my TMNT score tracks on Soundcloud.