If your kids (or maybe even just you) are Disney Junior fans, you’ve surely heard Beau Black’s music. He has contributed to many series in the cable network catalog and the upcoming series, fire buttonsis no different.
Black is the Emmy-nominated songwriter for Disney Branded Television’s animated series fire buds, about a team of young children, who are the children of first responders, and their talking vehicle companions as they embark on adventures together and learn what it really means to be a hero.
Alongside, he is also the songwriter and composer of the hit Disney Junior series. Mickey Mouse Playhouse, a whimsical animated series for preschoolers featuring Disney’s #1 star, Mickey Mouse, and his pals – Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto and Funny, an enchanted talking playhouse. His additional credits include having been a songwriter for Disney Junior’s The Lion Guard, which continues the epic storytelling of The Lion King, and as a composer and songwriter for Disney’s Mickey and the Roadster Drivers. He also performs the theme song for both series.
We had the chance to spend a few moments with Beau and discuss his portfolio of work for Disney Junior, as well as the upcoming series, Fire buds.
LP: Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming Disney Junior’s Sherman Brothers equivalent? You are everywhere!
BB:It was as simple as…meeting Jay Stutler, who was the head of the Disney Animation Music department, and we kind of hit it off, and it turned into just…I’m almost 10 soon, and over 400 songs, I think, at this point. Yeah, I mean, before that, I was just doing commercials, music for commercials, and random movie and TV licensing. I just got locked in this Disney bubble, and yeah, it’s been crazy ever since.
LP: Everywhere you go, you hear people singing your songs, whether it’s from The Lion Guard Where Mickey and the Roadster Drivers or something… Your music is probably heard more than most people, because it’s Disney Junior and it’s on repeat and they love it, and they will love it for the rest of their lives. I mean, is this impact hitting you or are you just hanging around?
BB: I have my moments when he does. I’m kind of in my own little world of bubbles in my studio, and I’m moving on and just doing the work. And then from time to time I remember what is…especially the international scope, because that’s something that I’m so far away from, but the fact that it’s the kids in Poland or something that sing the songs… It’s amazing. And I would say that every month or so I get an email from a mother explaining what music means to her children. I often get a lot of emails about kids on the spectrum who really love music and it helps them in their development and whatever treatment they get. These are amazing. I love to hear stuff like that.
LP: Your latest project for Disney Junior is fire buttons, which debuts very soon, next (Wednesday). What was your approach to this project? I mean, you obviously work with Disney Junior royalty, from sofia the first and Helen of Avalor and all that.
BB: Yeah. I mean, it was a really cool different approach, and especially working with Craig, who is the show runner you’re talking about. He’s so into music and that’s rare. He really has an ear for it, to the point that I could send the production to him and he can choose the guitar mix and all that little stuff, and it was really amazing to be able to speak the language with the show runner. We make music that is not typical of a children’s show. We kind of elevated it a bit to very modern production, modern songs, sometimes a classic songwriting approach, all sorts of genres in the stuff. But we explored, kind of pushed the boundaries of music for a children’s show.
LP: And you’ve obviously written for a wide variety. I mean, obviously the music of The Lion Guard’is very different from roadster racerswhich is very different from just-
BB: fun house or one of those, yeah.
LP: Right. So, do you still feel challenged?
BB: Yes. I feel challenged all the time. I mean, when you get those numbers from…I mean, overall, I’m into 400 songs and something. But especially when a show starts, there’s the challenge of creating the sound and the mood and getting to know the characters, and then it becomes the challenge of keeping it going. And you’re on song 20, and then you’re like, you’ve written two albums of music and you’re like, “Well, this has to go on for another 50 episodes, maybe.” So it’s always difficult. But usually the result usually works. It’s nice to have the settings for the show, like a box to be in, otherwise I’d go crazy.
LP: Now, not to ask you to pick a favorite child, but do you have some of your favorite picks that you would put on your “best of” album if you could?
BB Phew. Man. Yeah. I don’t know, man. This is a difficult question. I mean, I’m really proud of a lot of songs on Lion Guard. I mean, I wrote 93 songs for this show, and I think that’s usually this show that gives me the most feedback. It had the biggest impact, because there were a lot of great songs on it. It’s really hard to choose. It’s funny, someone wrote to me recently that they found out Miles from Tomorrowland, which was a show that came out seven years ago. I wrote the theme song, and it was one of the first things I did for Disney Junior. And I listened to it because I hadn’t heard it in forever, and I was like, “Oh, that’s really good. That’s really, really good.”
LP: Every time I go to Tomorrowland and this song comes to mind.
BB: I guess I have to go back and rediscover a lot of things. I will say… the songs I made for fire buttons I really kind of… I feel like I’m not just elevating what we’re doing, but elevating a little bit and took me to a new level of producing and thinking about the writing and what might be possible in a Children’s Television Show. I’m really, really proud of the work we’re doing right now. And of course the Mickey stuff, just to write for these characters. I’m on three shows I’ve done now for the Mickey gang, and I never feel like it gets old because it’s just, I know those voices now, and it’s just awesome to write for them.
LP: In fire buds, you have a very diverse base of emergency responders. How did you approach the search for each of their own voices?… Their musical style?
BB: Well, what’s interesting is that I wouldn’t say they each have their own style. It depends more on the episode than on the character. It is a very varied range. I mean, the recurring song and the main title have a very specific style. We almost went for this kind of Prodigy mix, electronic rock type stuff, which I thought was really fun. But I mean, they all do everything from funk to country to hard rock to just electronic music. I mean, they’re all so diverse, and the actors are amazing too. The singing is great. It really is. Everything is at a very high level.
LP: I’ve come across the shows, but this is the latest Beau Black classic. Do you plan to continue with Disney Junior? Do you still find it a fun adventure for you?
BB: Sure. I mean, look, as long as they have me, I’ll keep writing these songs. I like the diversity of the writing process. I’m not glued to one thing, ever. Like I said, I’m constantly challenged, and I think as an artist you need that. So yes, I would definitely continue.
LP: Is there anything you hope kids take away from your work, whether it’s aspirational, inspirational, musical initiation? What do you hope the legacy of your vast work will be?
BB: The way I’ve always thought about that is that I don’t particularly write music for children. I never think about it because I write music for children. I just think I write music for families, for people. And I like the idea of the parent and the child connecting over this music, so that we’re not alienating the parents by making the music so childish and irritating, I guess. I’m sure it gets irritating after hearing it play 300 times in the car, but really, I love bringing music closer together between parent and child. It’s always been my favorite thing when I hear that.
LP: This is what Disney is about, isn’t it?
LP: Yeah, I’m on a Disney cruise right now and in three days I counted on hearing six Beau Black songs on the cruise here… You’re well represented at sea.
BB: Oh wow. It’s so cool. While everyone is having fun, they can listen to music. That’s all you do on a cruise, right? You eat!
Black’s music and compositions have appeared in over 50 national commercials and numerous television series and films. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife, singer-songwriter and actress, Alex Cartañá and their young daughter.
Disney Junior’s fire buds, an animated comedy-adventure series from Disney Branded Television featuring a team of young first responders and their talking vehicle sidekicks, premiering WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER. 21, with a simulcast on disney channel and Disney Junior (10:30 a.m. EDT). A first batch of episodes will be broadcast the same day on on-demand platforms and Disney+. From Emmy-winning creator and executive producer Craig Gerber (Disney’s Helen of Avalor and sofia the first), the music-filled series follows a group of friends, all children of first responders, who embark on adventures to help their community and learn what it really means to be a hero.