I'm a pretty big music nut. Sometimes I do my work in silence, but most of the time I have some kind of music going on in the background. When I started work on Ella The Elegant Elephant in 2002, I began a tradition of choosing work music that helps get me into the right frame of mind for that particular story. It's easier for me to travel to a new place if I can hear it, if that makes sense. Once the initial storyboarding and character design is settled I might listen to just about anything, but when I'm developing the new material I find that the playing right music really helps flavor things.
During the Ella years, the main piece I listened to over and over for inspiration was the theme from the Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle. There's a carefree charm to this track that I've never quite found anywhere else, and it was a big influence on the way I designed Ella and her world.
For The Hanukkah Hop, klezmer music was the natural choice. I wanted something New Yorkish, Woody Allenish - something timeless. The modern klezmer music I found sounded too... slick for where I wanted to go. Then I discovered the classic early recordings of Naftule Brandwein - perfect!
I decided I needed something whimsical and off-beat to inspire the witches' parade in It's Raining Bats & Frogs. I was a little stumped until I remembered this track from Gabriel Yared's Betty Blue soundtrack. The calliope and the shimmering chime arpeggios got me in the mood for something silly yet slightly gloomy.
For some projects I'll find just one or two tracks that work perfectly for inspiration. Sometimes I'll pull together a small collection of tunes. For A Lucky Author Has A Dog I compiled a long playlist that included selections from the Gershwin piano rolls, jazz covers by The Kronos Quartet, and music by the Dutch ensemble The Beau Hunks.
I imagined this piece playing as the sun wakes up the dog on the morning of the big school visit.
What do you like to listen to when you work? I'm always looking for interesting new stuff.