Interview with Ninja Turtles Composer: Sebastian Evans
We got a chance to interview scoring powerhouse Sebastian Evans. He currently works on the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show. Please view his video interview in his lab, our separate interview is below.
Hello Sebastian. How are you today?
I’m good, how are you?
I’m doing good. So Sebastian Evans you are the composer for the Nick Turtles , correct?
Do you work at Nickelodeon studios?
Oh no I work at my studio. I normally conference call with everyone at the studio. I’m usually just sending them stuff, getting reviews, and then mixing and mastering.
At what age did you realize that music would be your profession?
Yea I thought about that. I had to check my age but I was actually 7 and when I went to see Return of the Jedi. There’s a spot in the movie where Admiral Ackbar goes “It’s a trap!” and the music gets really big . Right when I heard that, I don’t know, something, like my whole being turned on. That’s the moment I remember. I heard it and was like “what was that all about?” That just kind of set me on this path of music and it was just this one experience.
That is truly amazing and Ackbar is an interesting character in Star Wars universe. That is a young age but I guess you must of been really been drawn to it!
Yea I think it had to do with the score in general. Up to that point, they’re about to blow up the death star. You know, “It’s a trap!” I’m fine with it now, but at the time I’m like, “IT’S A TRAP!” (laughing)
Epic moments hits every fan differently. When you were young did you have a favorite cartoon growing up? Like the Ninja Turtles, or a movie like Star Wars?
For cartoons I’d say Turtles was definitely at least top 3. I grew up on Turtles just like everyone else my age. I don’t know I used to watch Bionic 6, Mask, Real Ghostbusters, Dennis the Menace. Those are all things that stand out in my head from my childhood, but Ninja Turtles was definitely among those.
Ninja Turtles from the classic to the current rendition, they did a good job with Nickelodeon trying to keep the origins and making a few small changes. Everything from beginning to finish has been great. Do you agree?
I’d have to agree. I mean I work on the show, but I do watch the show. The person heading up the show Ciro Nieli, he is the ultimate TMNT fan, so he’s really true to it and every episode is advancing the story and has an homage to every single TMNT iteration.
So how exactly did you land the job as a high profile composer working on this show? Was it tough? Maybe you can help educate some young composers that might be interested in following your path.
I mean I have to say that high profile is subjective. I don’t know if I consider myself a high profile composer. As far as getting into composing in general? Was it tough? I guess so. It is kind of tough. After learning how to compose now you have to be able to find the people who want you to compose things for them. My path was basically moving to LA and passing my stuff around. I finally got a job with Warner Bros. They were doing an online pilot program called Cartoon Monsoon and I scored all those. But I got my professional start with Ciro. Ciro was doing a show called Super Robot Monkey Team for JetX for Disney. I met Ciro in the Star Wars line for Phantom Menace in LA at Mann’s Chinese Theater and we kind of became friends. 4 years later he got the deal with Disney to do his show and he called me up and said, “I think I can get you in for a trial, do you want to do this?” And I was like, “of course, I want to do this.” I did it and got the job and he was like “Alright do the job” and I’m like, “I don’t really know what you’re supposed to do it. I haven’t done it for reals. He’s just like, “you know how to make music. You’re good at it, you told me you’re good at it. Do it. Everything else you learn as you go”. He treated me very professionally. He said “Dude just give me the music. Do what you do and we’ll go from there.”
Were you nervous going into it?
Yea I was throwing up all the time. I kind of told myself I was a composer already, but I didn’t know. I know how to make music and theory and everything about it, but I never really on that scale put it all in place, like doing it for real. I was kind of faking it to make it. But Ciro was really cool. He said, “Just concentrate on the music.” And you do learn everything as you go.
I’m really happy Ciro pushed you into it! The music that I hear in the show is great and Ciro has a great eye (or ear). As a composer, do you have a dream performance or something you’d like to compose?
A dream performance? I guess a dream performance that I’ve always dreamed about, that would be to do this huge orchestrated rendition of the Chronic with Dre. But totally redone in a classical accompaniment way. That would be a dream thing. As far as a project, I’ve always wanted to do a huge a Star Wars epic series, whether that be Game of Thrones or Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. Something that has volumes to it but it’s music. A canon of music that goes with the project. It has it’s own sound. That’s a huge dream for me as well.
I truly believe that music moves people. You get something right at the right time, it’s moving. Your rendition of The Chronic from Dre would be really cool to hear one day. But maybe some of the others, like Game of Thrones would be cool. I hope you get your dream performance one day dude!
Thank you! Me too! Or something along those lines. The composer’s that work on those shows are actually very good. They did a great job.
Sebastian, did or do you have a role model who inspired you into music? Someone that captured you into the whole business?
I don’t know. Like role model, I’ve never had one person where it’s like, “they smoke, I should smoke too!” type of thing, as far as music goes. I definitely have a lot of influences. I guess my main influence is Tchaikovsky…it’s not all classical music though. I really take a lot from hip hop music. Like Timbaland, Mos Def, Wu Tang, Beastie Boys. There’s also Danny Elfman, is a huge influence. John Williams of course, but I guess that’s for everyone. Edward Grieg. I have a lot of composers I like now that I’m into. But I guess it’s always like, you get influences from these what’s around you, that you incorporate into your style. I don’t think I’m old enough that I’ve stopped doing that. Maybe I am. The guy who does all the Pixar stuff. To me, he’s amazing. So as far as role models I don’t know, but as far as inspiration, a lot. Radiohead, Tool. Everywhere.
A wide variety, but that’s good. You take it all and some of the best moments that inspire you to do more for your personal work.
Yea it gets hard for me to narrow it down.
For myself, when I listen on the radio sometimes, some artists say we recorded this music in this country, or we went abroad. As a composer, do you have a preference on location?
No not really. But that could be because I don’t have that luxury. These guys they’re like, oh yea we’re going to record in a church in Ireland. I can’t just be like, oh I’m going to go to a cathedral in Scotland. I can’t do any of that anyway. I guess the location isn’t as important as the equipment I have with me. That’s really important to me. If I always have my Mac computer, Cubase, some samples, then that’s all I really need. As far as location I’ll do it in a basement if I need to. I don’t care where I do it.
The internet doesn’t have much information about you. Would you like to let us know more about you?
I guess I would, I don’t know what people would care about really. I’m kind of a closet recluse really. I really do try my best to stay under the radar, I’m not out there so to speak. I don’t know what anyone would care about – I love Lego…That’s my favorite thing to do, you know? But then again I just said that out loud and no one cares, you know?
I think you have an IMDB page, if I’m not mistaken , correct?
Yea that’s correct. As far as projects, I’ve done Super Robot Monkey Team for Disney, Transformers Animated for Cartoon Network, Drinky Crow for Adult Swim, just finished up Ben 10 Omniverse last year for Cartoon Network, now I’m still in the middle of Ninja Turtles for Nickelodeon.
The show is running strong. I would expect four more seasons, something of that nature, for your work.
Oh yea, I will do it as long…if it’s Ninja Turtles, whatever it is I will do.
I don’t blame you, I would do the same.
Like I don’t care if I’m working on something huge, really big movie or whatever, ok I will do..if I can, I am doing Ninja Turtles, whatever you want. I always want to be a part of it.
Have you had a chance to see the new film that just released?
No not yet. I’m probably going next week though.
I definitely encourage you to watch it. It’s really funny Sebastian!
Yea that’s what everyone says. That they really get the humor. I didn’t have a problem with the first one really. Everyone’s talking about the second one having a lot of humor that the first one didn’t really have a lot of. I am excited to see it.
Well that concludes the questions I have.
Awesome! I did it! You’re only my second interview!
We would love to have you again one day if that’s ok with you!
That’s totally fine with me!
Sebastian thank you for your time. We really appreciate it!
Ok. I appreciate too. Thank you very much!
Have a great day!