From Scottish indie band, Belle & Sebastian to Boj! Talented composer Mick Cooke talks to us about his musical influences, Boj-ing instruments together and Jason Donovan’s very controlled falsetto!
Here are a few words that Mick had to say about working on Boj…
Give us a brief introduction to yourself & what you do –
My name is Mick Cooke, I used to be in Belle and Sebastian, now I compose music for film and TV. I write the music for Boj, including the theme song.
What attracted you to the project?
I loved the premise, the animation was great, and the people running the show were nice. And working with Jason Donovan sounded like fun too.
You have children yourself – did this influence your move into creating music for children’s TV?
I started writing children’s music several years before I had children. I curated an album of children’s songs called Colours Are Brighter, which came out in 2006, and then wrote an album of songs based at the zoo called Down At The Zoo, which I didn’t release until a few years after I recorded it (2011). My sons are now nearly 5 and 2, the perfect demographic for Boj. They are big fans of the show, it’s great watching it with them, seeing their reaction. One of the few words George can say is ‘Bojey!’
What have been the main highlights for you working on Boj?
Recording the theme song with Jason Donovan was a real highlight. It’s always great to see something you’ve been working on for a while being finished, but also I was a huge Neighbours fan in the last couple of years at school. Jason’s high vocal harmonies in particular were a revelation. It’s rare for a man to be so in control of his falsetto!
What has been your favourite song to compose for Boj? Why?
The lullaby, Under The Giggly Moon. As soon as I recorded the demo, my wife started singing it to George when he was going to bed, and now it has become his lullaby, we both sing it to him at bedtime. He looked confused when he heard it sung by Jason.
What are your biggest musical influences? Did these filter into the songs you created for Boj?
I love the British dance bands of the 30’s and 40’s, bands like the Roy Fox band. It’s really catchy music, but played with this strange mix of saxes, brass, violins, mandolins, clarinets…
I think all my children’s songs are influenced by its melodic style. But this series also called for a folksy outback element- ukelele, wobble board, jaw harp.
What instruments do you play?
Ukelele, wobble board, jaw harp… Also trumpet, guitar, bass, keyboards, french horn.
What instrument have you always wanted to learn?
Flute. I have one, been meaning to practise.
Have you ever made your own instrument?
Quite a few for Boj. For Musical Mayhem, I made a watering can trombone, and hit a washing up bowl for percussion. And I sawed a coconut in half to make percussion for another episode.
What do you feel is the best way to influence and motivate your child to pick up an instrument and learn it? And continue playing?
I think if you encourage singing from an early age and have instruments lying around, it will happen, if they are interested enough. The social side of music is really important too. Practising piano on your own ain’t much fun for a child. Your sense of rhythm only comes from playing with others too.
Which animations did you enjoy growing up? And what animations do you enjoy watching today?
I used to love Top Cat, maybe because of the theme tune. And the Oliver Postgate stuff- Bagpuss and Ivor The Engine. And obviously there’s Bod- only one letter away from Boj. These days I love the Pixar films, particularly The Incredibles. I took my son Ralph to see the Lego Movie – amazing animation in that – and he and George both love Frozen.
What are your plans next?
To write another musical. I wrote one with a couple of writer friends called Cannibal Women of Mars, which ran at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre for two weeks last summer. We’re in the process of getting that one back on the stage too. It’s pretty different to the children’s music I write, at least lyrically! Polar opposite even…
Find out more about Mick Cooke – www.toomanycookes.co.uk