Yesterday I had the great opportunity to interview Daniel Ingram, a two time Emmy nominee for his work on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Being a huge fan of the show, and moreso the music I was so excited to be able to talk to the man behind the tunes. I was even MORE nervous. So about 3:30 my time I started to stammer my way through a very interesting interview.
I’ll have my questions posted in BOLD and Daniels responses will be quoted.
So lets get to it, how did you get started making music for cartoons and how did you end up working on My Little Pony?
I’ve always enjoyed making music, I love to make music. I performed throughout school. When I got out of College I was writing music for various shows. Then I got a job making music for the show Martha Speaks, which was really fun. One day I got a call from the shows producer, Sarah Wall, and she said that she was working on the new My Little Pony with Lauren Faust and that she wanted me to do the music for it. The first song I did was the Pinkies Laugh song from episode two. Then it all kind of grew from there.
I’m a huge fan of the show myself, did you ever think it was going to blow up like it did? And did you ever think it was going to be like by so many different kinds of people?
I never expected it to blow up like it did. I had put Winter Wrap Up on YouTube so that I could show it to somebody, and a few days later I get a call from them saying I was working on something big. That I had a million views on the song. It was crazy.
So last year you were nominated for two Grammies, how was that like?
I was nominated for Emmys, you have to actually have made a soundtrack for Grammies, I WISH I could be nominated for a Grammy.
OH YEAH! Thats right! So how was that like? HAHA! (My nerves had gotten the best of me and I had gotten the two awards mixed up…great.)
It was really awesome. It was really an honor to be nominated. It was fun to go through the whole process.
One of the great things about the Brony fandom for the show is all the music being created around. Do you ever listen to any of the remixes or original songs?
I try to stay away from the original songs, mostly because of conflict of interest. I don’t want to listen to something then a year down the road write something that sounds too familiar. As for the remixes I really like them, it’s exciting to see what some of the fans can produce. Like when Babs Seed came out I was blown away by how many remixes were up so quickly. There is so much out there.
What kind of direction will you be going in Season 4?
Well, I can’t really talk much about Season 4 just yet. I think everyone will like what I have planned.
What do you think about new and emerging genres? There are a lot of Electronic artists in the forefront right now, and are there any new directions you want to go?
Its always exciting to hear new stuff, there is a lot of amazing new music coming out. As for new genres, We have some new things planned for later this year, again I can’t talk about it, but the fans will definitely like it.
Walk me through your recording process, do you work on the tunes first or lyrics? And do you record everything, I guess traditionally or do you use synths and tools like Ableton?
I use a little of both really, first I like to plan out the lyrics. Its good to have something upbeat and happy to start with. So I write the lyrics and then play a piano or play the guitar while I sing them. Then I get with a singer and record a Piano Demo which is just the song in it’s rawest form. That is what we submit and then when it gets the go ahead we record the full piece.
So I guess this is kind of a cliched question, but are there any artists out there that you would love to record with?
Living or dead?
Why not both?!
Haha, well I’d love to play with Gregory Alan Isakov. I really like what he is putting out and it would be fun to play with him. As for someone just to pick their brain I’d have to say Randy Newman. It would be really great to talk to him.
I know the coronation concert is…is it this week or was it last?
It was just this last week.
How was that were you able to go?
Yes! I did get to go, I flew down for a few days. It was awesome. It was really cool to go to the event and be able to hear some of the stuff I wrote performed live. It was a great experience seeing all these kids having fun.
So I think I asked all that I wanted to, I am just a really big fan of your work.
What is your favorite song from the show?
Winter Wrap Up hands down. I was just going along with the show watching a few episodes, and when I heard it I was blown away and hooked. I couldn’t believe something that good was coming from a cartoon.
Haha! Thanks! It’s funny you mentioned that, I was on a plane recently and that was the only song I had on my iPad so I thought “Hey, I wrote this over a year ago why not listen to it”. It was a fun listening to it again after so long.
Do you have a solo career or do you write music outside of shows?
Well, I’m pretty busy right now. The HUB has got me on My Little Pony and Littlest Petshop, so I have a full schedule. I’d love to try something eventually.
After that we had our goodbyes and said farewell. Daniel is a very soft spoken guy and it is obvious from just talking with him that he really loves what he does. Making great music for some of our favorite shows.
Be sure to check out the newest episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is magic this Saturday the 16th at 10:30 AM EST to hear more of Daniel’s work!