EXCLUSIVE: Interview With AVATAR: THE LEGEND OF KORRA Composers Jeremy Zuckerman & Benjamin Wynn

<font color= red>EXCLUSIVE:</font> Interview With AVATAR: THE LEGEND OF KORRA Composers Jeremy Zuckerman & Benjamin Wynn

Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn have delivered the scores to not only the DC Animated Shorts, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Kung Fu Panda: Legend of Awesomeness, but also the upcoming Legend of Korra series which is due sometime later in 2012. In the following interview I ask them all about it..

Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn were approached by Avatar series creators and friends, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, to create the wonderful scores for the Nickelodeon series. The two agreed that the first Avatar series was the most challenging project of their careers. “We were pretty fresh on that first project,” said Jeremy, “I mean we had done commercials and things but we hadn't done anything of that scope. So we were learning episode by episode; scene by scene. We didn't even know when we first started who would do what. We just knew that we were going to be a team... ”

Eventually, the two started up their company The Track Team. Benjamin said, "We were each working at commercial music houses, working on commercials and working on very short, small-time frame projects. We would work together a lot and then once we got the opportunity to score Avatar we decided to make a company and just go for it."



When developing a score for a project the two will sit down with either an executive producer or creator to get an idea of what they want. Jeremy explains, “They might be pretty specific where they're referencing a style or some other soundtrack that they like, or they might just be talking about tone and emotion and where they want music. It's up to us to figure out how music is going to function and what the aesthetics of the music are going to be like and the instrumentation, all that. Then it's inspired by the story, the look of the project, the characters, and the tone of the scene.” 

With the next chapter in the Avatar series I asked if the scores for the story will differ from The Last Airbender. Jeremy replied, "Yeah, it’s going to be different, definitely. The music is informed from the earlier series but continues to remain it’s own thing. Viewers will recognize tiny melodies from The Last Airbender if they listen hard enough.”

Jeremy continued to explain that with the new series, “The tone of the story is much different now and the characters are The setting is different, well I can't talk about it much, but the setting is different. With all these factors, the tone is much more mature, and the result is the music is much different. We wanted to explore the instruments a little more deeply. The music is a little more sparse so that you can hear the actual performance of the instruments and you can hear the details.”



The two also added that this series will feature more live instruments, such as string players and a Chinese instrumentalist; something that The Last Airbender did not have. Even with the DC animated shorts, the duo provided most of the music themselves with the exception of Jonah Hex which they got to work with a violinist. 

Both Jeremy and Benjamin worked as sound designers for Avatar and the DC shorts, so I asked how the two job titles differed from one another. Benjamin explained that a sound designer does “all the sound for the show. Sound design can go everywhere from stuff called “foley,” which is movement of the characters; if they pick anything up or their clothes are rustling, to if they're doing some crazy fire-bending move. So that's the sound side and the music is obviously the music.” He also explains how a sound designer figures out the sounds they will use, “[Sound design is] very driven by the animation and the animation pretty much dictates what you need to have there, but then I guess the art comes in and what you choose to put there and how you make it, how you design it and all the little details.”

Though the two wouldn't reveal any details from the episodes they had worked on; they did make it clear that fans of The Last Airbender would not be disappointed with Legend of Korra“Trust me, it's awesome.” Jeremy says, “It's really stepped up from The Last Airbender a lot I think. The animation, the depth of the story, the maturity level. They're not just repeating themselves.” Benjamin adds, “It seems like everyone, the characters in the show but also the people making it and everyone involved have just matured.” 

Besides working on Legend of Korra, Benjamin is involved with a project titled Outliers which took the composer to Iceland with a group involving some photographers and a film crew to “create a photo book, a movie, score CD, and a compilation CD.” The project should be finished sometime in the middle or third quarter of this year. Below is the trailer. 

Outliers, Vol I: Iceland from effixx on Vimeo.


Make sure you check out the duos work in the upcoming Avatar: The Legend of Korra, due out later this year, and in Kung Fu Panda: Legend of Awesomeness or revisit some of your favorites with Avatar: The Last Airbender or the DC animated shorts.



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