Did you know that the opening and closing theme music for 3 Amigonauts was composed by world-renowned scratch DJ and music producer Kid Koala! We interviewed Eric San, aka Kid Koala to get the lowdown on what goes into creating a super catchy theme song for outer space, and his answers were out of this world! Read the full story below!
What are three words you would use to describe the 3 Amigonauts theme song?
Nostalgic, Future, Funk!
What is the story behind the creating of the 3 Amigonauts theme song?
To start, I was given the series bible and some of the initial designs the Amigonauts crew were working on for Herby, Kirbie and Burt. I also got to see a couple early stage animatics, (they weren’t coloured at that point), but they showed me how everything would move in terms of the style of animation, like how stretchy and squashy it could get. So I kind of had all that swimming around in my head, while I was trying to make a track that could harmonize with the whole vibe of the show.
It was also really helpful to see the characters and the colour palettes the team were using, and their test animation, so I could see how stuff would move. It was very snappy but also very bouncy and stretchy. I knew the music would have to fit that type of animation. If it had been more vectored and cold feeling, I think I would have made something quite different. It seemed like such a joyous world that the 3 Amigonauts lived in, so I just wanted to see if I could match that.
Did the show’s space setting play into the piece?
Of course, the show being set in space always helps! It is funny, they say every musician at some point has to do a space phase, and I think I started mine 8 years ago and I haven’t left. So a space themed show was one of those things that I was actually kind of comfortable with – My last album was called Music to Draw To: Satellite and was set on Mars. And musically I was pretty equipped for the job, because a lot of the equipment I had accumulated and searched for to make said space records, and music, was designed to create spacey sounds. For instance, the most obvious one being the Roland Space Echo.
What instruments, gear and or samples did you use to create the song?
Drums, bass, several synthesizers, the Roland Space Echo – a synth with a tape based delay, so it records sounds that go into and then plays it back slightly later, so you can create spaceship-y sounds. A lot of guitar effects, the record cutter, and turntables. And there were some horns and a baritone sax in there as well.
And just FYI there were no samples used in the track. For the “three” scream you hear throughout the piece, I just recorded my daughters yelling ‘THREE’. And if something sounds like a sample it’s because I recorded instruments with 1950s microphones and sometimes cut stuff to vinyl on my record cutter and then scratched it back into the track on a turntable.
Even the counterpoint melody line is just me singing though a bunch of robot vocoders.
Above you mention “nostalgia” as one of the words to describe the song… can you expand on how you achieved this “feeling?”
When I was speaking to Kyle, he wanted it to have this kind of dusty sample feel and aesthetic in the music.
So what I would do, would be to play instruments and synthesizers, and then I would cut them to vinyl records – as I mentioned above I have a record cutter in my studio – I would then use that record and scratch it back in. What ended up happening is you kind of get the feeling like “Oh these samples came from some old record”, when really they are original-made tunes, which were just treated to sound that way.
That’s fun for me, because I’m mostly known for my turntable work, and once a sound is cut to a piece of vinyl, then I’m in my safe place so to speak. I like all the combinations of things you can do, once a sound is on vinyl. So, to have the ability to do that is pretty cool, at least in my recording process, it’s kind of a fun little revolution that I’m enjoying.
How does the process for writing a theme song for a show, differ from writing an original song for an album?
With a theme song you want it to kick off the show and signal, “Hey, this is it, we are heading into Amigonauts land!” A theme song is pretty much the tag of the show, so you need to create a welcoming piece, where the palette of sounds and the vibe of the song reflect the world you are about to go into.
After seeing what the Amigos team had created, and speaking to Kyle about the vibe and the tone of the show, it was pretty clear that the best thing would be for the theme to be joyous and inviting, something that would elicit a smile, and of course, something that was a bit squashy and stretchy in sound as well.
I tried to create sounds that suits the mechanics of the show. For example, Herby, Kirbie and Burt have skeletons that can stretch, so it would make sense that the instruments should be able to have a similar elasticity too! So imagine you hear what you think is a traditional instrument being played, and then you realize “Oh no wait, that is really just someone playing that sound on a record and now they’ve bent it out of the human range!”
Anything else to add about what makes a themes song different from writing your own music?
Yes! The time limit is a huge factor in writing a theme song. On my own albums I can do an 8 minute song, but here I had to think like “It’s the Amigonauts, we’re going in, we’ve landed and we only have a relatively short period of time to open the doors to their universe and pull the audience in with this piece!”
Is the short time limit challenging?
Well, I have a short attention span for the most part, so I felt kind of at home with the time limit!
Which Amigonaut are you most like:
a) Herby - Heroic, fidgety and blindly confident, Herby is the Amigos’ front-man.
b) Kirbie - A consummate over-sharer with zero filter, Kirbie can come off as kinda gross.
c) Burt - Joyfully mischievous yet supremely polite, Burt is a walking pyrotechnic fun-machine.
Yeah, I’d have to go with Burt. Mainly because of the pyro-mania, also “fun-machine” is a good title. If I ever have an office with big glass walls, with my name and title etched across the door in a big font, I want it to say “Eric Fun-Machine San”. But yes, I did have a minor pyro-mania phase, when I was maybe ten or eleven. I was into lighting off bottle rockets and firecrackers, but I grew out of it.
What was your favourite class in school?
Hmm… to be honest in high school it was physics. They do always say music is physics.
But, my fondest memories are from a course I remember taking, which spanned an entire year, where we had to do woodshop, metal work, electronic, soldering and cooking! That year, in the once class alone, I learned how to solder a circuit board and cook an egg. I don’t remember what it was called, but I think, as far as life skills are concerned, that class taught me the most profound amount of information I’ve actually held with me my entire life! In fact, just this morning I cooked an egg!
Any advice for the next generation of Amigonauts, who also want to become world class DJ’s, Musicians and Turntablists?
Dabble! Dabble in the stuff that you are interested in!
And if you have an idea for a project, if you have an idea for a song, don’t wait, just start. You don’t need a book contract to start writing, you don’t need a record contract to start making music, and you don’t need to have a gig offer to start creating a live show. If that’s what you want to do just start doing it and you’ll always find your audience.
I’m kind of like living proof of the fact that you can do the most weird, left field music and projects, and you’re still going to find an audience that are in your same boat creatively! You have to trust that even if you feel like you are a bit of an outsider with your artistic ideas, you are not alone, and there are other people, that are equally excited about the same ideas as you. In my experience, that is how it has worked! If you put your stuff out there on any level, eventually you being to attract people into your working sphere, who have that same mentality and same enthusiasm for stuff, and then when you start collaborating, that is when really wonderful things start happening too.
People just have to trust in their hearts that they know why they are here, and do what makes them happy!
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