The Sounds of Super Heroes, Composer Michael Gatt on Scoring “DC Super Hero Girls”

DC Super Hero Girls

Lauren Faust, the mastermind behind Hasbro’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, recently relaunched DC Super Hero Girls for Cartoon Network with DC Super Hero Girls: Sweet Justice, a one-hour movie that follows the best-known female crime fighters from the DC Comics library and the adventures that follow them. New episodes are currently airing every Sunday at 4pm ET/PT. The official description for the series, “The world may know them as Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl, but not-so-typical teenagers Diana, Kara and Barbara, alongside their Super Hero friends have much more to deal with than just protecting the citizens of Metropolis from some of the most sinister school-aged Super-Villains of the DC Universe. After all, being teens is tough enough, what with school, friends, family and the chaos that comes with managing a social life. But add super powers and a secret identity to the mix, and things can get a lot more complicated.”  Adding to the magic of the show is the eclectic score by composer Michael Gatt. Below Gatt discusses everything from working with the Emmy winning Lauren Faust, to what initially stuck out to him about the show and more.

-What about the series initially stuck out to you?

Sight unseen, I was just excited when I heard that Lauren Faust was doing a DC show.  Then I remember going to Warner Brothers for my initial meeting with Lauren when I was being considered for the gig, the walls were covered with color prints of artwork from the show…The character design and the art direction just blew me away, confirming my thoughts that this was going be an extremely cool show and a whole new take on the characters I had grown up with from the  DC canon.

-In a previous interview you discuss creating new music for your demo the day you got the email from your agent about this show, instead of sending in an already existing reel. Can you talk about that demo and why you think yours stuck out to Lauren the most?

We’ve covered an immense amount of musical ground since then.  If my memory serves, Lauren liked the rawness of the tracks.  My intent for these tracks was to have them sound more like a band doing a live recording then a polished studio album or for that matter, more conventional film score.   This rawness has lived on in the score of the show.   The food fight scene in Sweet Justice sounds like a garage band having a jam session, at the end of the cue when the principle comes, it sounds like someone came and broke up band practice with guitars sloppily stopping at different times etc. like the band is kind of falling apart.

-The characters on the show are teenagers, does this affect your score at all?

Yes, in the sense everything that happens in the score is story and character driven.  Being a teenager has so much to do with identity.  We can see and hear this in the “Adventures in Bunnysitting” episode, Kara plays tough as she often does and shows exasperation when tasked with looking after Zatanna’s bunnies.   But as soon as Z is gone, Kara is gushing and playing with the bunnies, making baby talk.  This is all reflected in the score, with a really silly and fun cue underneath her bunny time.   Conversely when she later flies in for a big save as Supergirl we hear her theme in the rock band driven sound that we use for her moments.

-In the episode titled #ShockitToMe the score definitely has an arc as the girls battle Live Wire. Do you map out each episode before you begin scoring it? Or what is your process?

We have a very detailed spotting session for each episode where we go through every scene and really dig into the story and emotional thread that the music should be scoring.  The #ShockItToMe episode is a great example of how much ground the show and the score covers in 11 minutes.  When you mention the score arc, indeed those were all very conscious choices that that we talked about in spotting and during revisions.  When we get to the part of the episode where Livewire is having a live event, the score starts with Livewire’s raw pop punk sound so the score sounds like the music being played at the concert but there are also guitar stings happening to highlight the embarrassing moments for each Super Hero Girl.  Then the score turns triumphant for Wonder Woman’s call to adventure, then sentimental for Wonder Woman’s talk to the girls about believing in humanity, then to determination as WW heads in alone, then shifts to a huge battle with Livewire that leans in and out of LW’s musical feel, then WW losing, then Supergirls’ theme coming in for her moment, and ultimately a big crescendo for Livewire’s massive power up that blacks out the city.  All of these story points happen in just 3 minutes and the score leans in to every turn.

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