One thing I have learnt in this strange world of writing music for TV is you never know when the phone will ring or more likely the email will ping. New commissions often come out of the blue and rarely as a direct result of a carefully timed catch up email – although that can work when it works.
I had just finished writing music to the ITV series ‘Slow Trains through Africa with Griff Rhys Jones ‘ for IWC/Zodiak media. The director of the first series of Secret Life of Boys (affectionately known as SLOB by the cast and crew), Beryl Richards, asked the music department if they had any drumming music – she wanted a tribal drumming theme for the programme to connect with the boys will be boys thing. They happened to have one of the tracks created for the Slow Trains programme, big ethnic drums for the cheetahs chasing prey in slow motion type thing. She heard the track and selected it out of a few options given to her. It’s not music I often write and was created using sampled percussion loops but it seemed I was in!
They wanted a theme built around this rhythm – something quirky, cheeky and Australian, for the protagonist Ginger who comes to stay with an English family for the summer. So quickly we have gone from dramatic cheetahs in slow mo to a quirky kids comedy about annoying boys and an Ozzy girl! I had actually been working on some jazzy piano stuff for another project at the time so started to build a jazzy number with brass and more defined drums. My first demo’s thankfully were going in the right direction but need something a bit spicey – They mentioned giving it a latin feel – This was a brilliant call! It completely gelled everything together, gave it a real pace and groove whilst being quirky with the jazzy piano and brass underpinned by the primal rhythms. The whole thing is bathed in these incredibly guttural didgeridoo lines and a top line harmonica just lifts it at the end! The SLOB theme was born.
When the theme is cracked, everything else just flows from this. I created dozens of variations, stings, beds, stripped down, full on, gentle drums only, bass and piano only and everything else – The theme ends up having a big role in defining the feel of the programme. I was really pleased with the results. The show really makes the most of online interactivity and with series 2, I created a whole load of extra music for the website offshoots which are hilarious. I am the first to admit this was slightly out of my comfort zone – creating whacky songs, that the actors sing in mad outfits (only available online) – I had to sing the guides and singing is not my strong suit – I think i got away with – the result are hilarious.
SLOB season 2 is online now http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/games/secret-life-of-boys-2a and about to broadcast on CBBC/ABC Australia