Something Special: Brad Breeck On The Music Of ‘Gravity Falls’ [Interview]
If you're anything like me, you're probably trying to sort through your feelings about Disney's Gravity Falls airing its last episode this week. As many of you will understand, Gravity Falls holds a special place in my heart. The show is funny, charming, subversive, wholesome, and amazing, and I think I can speak without hyperbole when I say that it is one of the best things that has ever happened to television. If you've never seen it, you've got some catching up to do.
Now that we're perfectly clear on how I feel about the show, it should come as no surprise that when I was presented with the opportunity to interview the show's composer Brad Breeck, I jumped at it. Breeck is the man responsible for not just the iconic theme, but all the other music on the show as well --- as well as music for Star Vs. The Forces of Evil and We Bare Bears. To mark the bittersweet occasion of the show's final episode, ComicsAlliance is delighted to put a spotlight on one of the people that helped make it so great.
ComicsAlliance: Brad, how did you get involved with Gravity Falls?
Brad Breeck: I pitched several ideas for the theme song, all of which were rejected. Then Alex and his then right-hand man Michael Rianda — who was familiar with my band Mae Shi — found a piece of music on my website that they liked. They wanted to have that piece of music as the theme, but it was owned by another network. So we set about creating something for Gravity Falls that was in the same spirit of that piece.
CA: Your theme and music became so immediately intrinsic to helping establish the feel of the Gravity Falls world and marking it as something more than just another kids' show. Did you know when you started that you were going to end up playing such a crucial role?
BB: That's kind of you to say. Alex and all the artists on the show had already done such a mind-blowing job of creating a complete and immersive world that music was really just icing on the cake. It was an opportunity for me to write the kind of score you don't usually hear on kids shows, to do something more cinematic than is usually appropriate for Saturday morning TV. But music is always an important piece of the puzzle when you're trying to tell stories the way Alex was with this series, and I knew I'd have my work cut out for me.
CA: Were you at all prepared for the huge fan response and following the show gained? Could you tell that you were working on something that was going to end up being so special to people?
BB: The show was obviously something special right away. It was clear there had never been something like it in this context and that working on it would be very special.
CA: All of the music on the show is fantastic, but do any of the songs you worked on stand out as personal favorites?
BB: My favorite piece of music from the show is probably the score for the climactic scenes from the episode "Not What He Seems". The world is kind of falling apart in those scenes and the characters are engaged in high conflict. It was a challenge to make the music as crazy and exciting as what we see on screen and as emotionally charged as what is happening between the characters. I'm really proud of how those scenes turned out.
CA: The show and its story are obviously very personal to Alex and tied into his memories of childhood. Were there any particular childhood adventures of your own you found yourself calling upon while you were composing?
BB: Not specifically, but I could definitely relate to the spirit of adventure and exploration I remember from being a kid.
CA: A big part of this show's success has been how much people have related to the characters, so I have to ask who you most identified with on the show and why?
BB: Probably Dipper. I can definitely relate to being ambitious but feeling desperate to make a connection and have my voice heard.
CA: Now that the show has ended, what's the most important thing you're taking home with you from your "summer" in Gravity Falls, Oregon?
BB: Working on this show really honed my chops and made me a better composer. I learned so much about how to score a scene and support the emotional arc of a scene/episode working on this show.
CA: Did you ever try to hide any cryptic clues or backward messages of your own in the music?
BB: Sorry to disappoint, but no way! Disney would kill me if I did and they found out. I leave that kind of subversiveness to Alex!