Composer Behind “Phineas and Ferb” Steps Out and Talks Music
BSCkids recently got the chance to interview the musician behind the music of the hit cartoon, “Phineas and Ferb,” Danny Jacob. He has composed more than 300 songs for show and is currently working on the third and fourth season of the show.
A three-time Emmy® nominated composer, Danny Jacob is raising the bar for commercial success in today’s television music. As composer and producer of the songs for Disney Channel’s mega-hit animated series, “Phineas and Ferb,” Jacob’s music is fresh, original, multi-dimensional and at times even hilarious. Influenced by his life-long experience as a world-class guitar player, Jacob bridges the worlds of score and song. As a featured guitarist, Jacob has performed on the “triple crown” of critic-awarded projects: On “Shrek,” which won the Oscar® for Best Animated Picture; on the Emmy® winning Bette Midler HBO Concert “Diva Las Vegas;” and on the Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin’s “Heaven Help Us,” which won the Grammy® for Best Duet
BSCkids: Danny Jacob
How did you come up with idea to give the show, “Phineas and Ferb” a cool, modern vibe bringing together many different artists?
I’m a guitar player by trade. Although I’ve toured with different artists, it’s my earliest years of working in bars in Top 40 bands that prepared me with a back pocket full of authentic styles and sounds. Animation is one big collaboration. Fortunately, “Phineas & Ferb’s” creators, Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, are really musical. They’re good songwriters. After the show runners send me a rough demo, I put in an all out effort to make it a record.
Do you work with the cast at all while composing music for “Phineas and Ferb”?
I work with the “Phineas & Ferb” cast to produce their vocals. As the song producer and composer of the underscore, I’m locked in my home studio working on pre-production and post-production, at the same time. Songs are recorded in pre-production (before animation begins) usually about a year in advance. Once the animation is complete, we’ll “spot” the episode with the show runners for ideas about the underscore. This is the post-production phase.
How does it feel to know that your music for “Phineas and Ferb” spent over 100 weeks in the top-15 on Billboard’s charts?
It’s fantastic! Animation has a long, long life, especially well-crafted songs. I definitely do not write “down” for children. I think kids and parents, alike, know when they’re being snowed. It’s my job to create productions that are true to the genre, to make the songs stand on their own.
What do you think makes your compositions different from other similar shows?
I compose themes on guitar. Every composer has his or her go-to instrument. It’s natural for me to pick up my Les Paul and just start to play. Since my background is songs, I bring that sensibility to my scores.
What has been your favorite show to work on so far?
“The Longest Day of Summer” [“Phineas & Ferb” second season finale episode] was a blast. It is very cinematic and the songs were great. I co-wrote some of the songs, too.
Is it easier to compose music for children’s shows/movies rather than those geared mainly toward adults?
When I write for “Phineas & Ferb”, I don’t think about adult versus kid shows. For instance, when it’s “Perry the Platypus”, I write for it as if it was for James Bond. Doofenshmirtz is an eastern European villain. It’s never easier in one genre over another. In all honesty, it takes dedication and passion to see any project through.
Does your teenage son enjoy listening to your musical compositions from children’s songs/movies?
Fortunately, yes. My son Aaron sings on many of the songs as well. You can hear his vocals on third season “Phineas & Ferb” songs Aerial Area Rug and Dance Baby, or Phinedroids and Ferbots from season one. Some families have sports in common, we have music.
So you have also worked as a guitar coach for the fantastic film, Almost Famous, how did you like working the cast and crew for that film?
Almost Famous was an amazing experience. I lived that movie (in the 1970’s). Billy Crudup studied with me like a method actor. By the time we were finished, he was a believable rock guitar player. I also got to hang out with Peter Frampton. Peter lent rock credibility to the film.
What is your next project?
I’m about midway through the third season of “Phineas and Ferb”. Yesterday, I turned in the first song for season four. Lot’s of new songs in the works.