Tag Archives: Craig McCracken

A New Music for Superheroes: Talking with Composer Andy Bean about Kid Cosmic (2021)

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with composer Andy Bean about his work on the Netflix animated series Kid Cosmic, which premiered on Netflix on February 2nd, 2021.

Andy Bean is an Emmy-nominated composer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He began his career barnstorming across the U.S. and Europe for nearly a decade with The Two Man Gentlemen Band before landing a gig writing music for the Disney animated series, Wander Over Yonder. He is currently songwriter and composer for Netlix’s Kid Cosmic, Disney’s Puppy Dog Pals, and Disney’s Muppet Babies re-boot. Between the latter two, he’s written over three-hundred songs across dozens of genres and scored over one-hundred episodes.

Enjoy this interview about his work on Kid Cosmic!

How did you get started with being a composer?

I was writing songs and performing with The Two Man Gentlemen Band back in 2012 when I was asked to submit a theme song demo for Craig McCracken’s last show, Wander Over Yonder. Craig and the team liked the theme song and asked me if I wanted to try composing for the show and I said… sure! Half the show was frantic banjo music, which I was comfortable with. The other half was synth-driven space orchestral stuff, which I’d never done before. I was a total novice writing and producing music for TV, so I basically locked myself in a room for 6 months and figured it out the best I could.

So I just finished watching season 1 of Kid Cosmic and I loved it! I have to ask, were you really not told anything about the premise aside from “imagine a 70s garage band”? How do you start composing for a show from that kind of starting area?

That’s definitely how it started. As Wander Over Yonder was finishing, I met with Craig and he basically said, “I’ve got this new idea for a show, but I’m not going to tell you that much about it. Just that the main character in the show has a favorite band called Dr. Fang and The Gang, and I’d like you to start writing music for them.” He showed me a drawing of the band and gave me some references – some older stuff and some contemporary fuzzed out garage bands – and I started writing music that night. I was a songwriter first before ever writing music for TV, so a “write songs like this” assignment was in my wheelhouse.

Of course, as I learned more about the show I started tailoring ideas to particular characters and refining the sound. But a handful of the tunes that I wrote early on are part of the score and soundtrack.

What was it like working with Craig McCracken again after Wander Over Yonder?

It’s great! On both shows we’ve worked on together, he’s given me really specific guidance on the concept he has in mind for the show’s sound. Then he gives me an incredible amount of creative license to figure out the nuts and bolts of it. For me, that balance of clear guidance and creative freedom is my favorite way to work. And just as importantly, we seem to be on the same wavelength musically. We like the same kinds of stuff.

It sounds like the story was written to accommodate your music, which doesn’t happen all that often. How did the process of making the story and music work together happen? Were there any unexpected difficulties?

Not so much the story, but I know Craig and the team built specific scenes around certain songs. Before writing and storyboarding started on season 1, I gave the team all the stuff I’d been working on while we were in development – songs and score sketches. I had some ideas about how they’d use some of them – fast rock songs for action scenes for example – but they also incorporated some of the ambient desert score stuff I did in really cool and surprising ways. So for me, it was great. I wrote a bunch of music then sat back and watched the incredible artists working on the show build super cool scenes around it.

Of course, the stuff I wrote ahead of time only covered a portion of the score. So one of the challenges was trying to match the energy and spontaneity of the early tracks when I was writing new music to picture. Most of the songs on the soundtrack were written before production started . But a handful are extensions of shorter pieces I wrote to picture.

How much time did you spend working on the music for Kid Cosmic? Where did the musical ideas start and how did it branch out as you kept writing the music?

Years. I started contributing musical ideas in late 2015 and actual scoring to picture didn’t start until late 2019. During that whole period, I was kicking around musical ideas and submitting demos whenever I had time in my schedule. The abnormally long development period allowed for a lot more experimentation than if I’d come on closer to post production. A lot of time was spent trying to incorporate synth and spacey sci-fi elements into the garage rock sound we started with. The songs ‘Galactic Interference’ and ‘Groundspeed Hustle’ are examples of that.

Also, If I write a bunch of songs in a short period of time, they tend to sound way too similar. So, getting to space out the writing over a long period helped with that.

What instruments are used in the musical score?

Traditional rock band instruments – guitars, drums, bass, organ – make up a lot of it. I leaned pretty heavy on some fuzz effects for guitar and vocal sounds. Distorted vocals with a slap-back echo are a big part of the Dr. Fang and the Gang sound.

I also got to work some pedal steel guitar into the desert country stuff. That’s always been a favorite instrument of mine, and I learned how to play just for the show. The rest of the score is a mix of traditional orchestral score, and synth-heavy stuff for the more sci-fi-y parts.

Did you create specific musical themes for each of the Local Heroes? As I watched the show I thought I heard musical ideas that recurred for different characters, particularly Rosa and Kid Cosmic.


Absolutely. The Kid has his theme. Papa G’s got a few hippy country cues I use for him. And Rosa’s got a recurring cue, too. We worked up most of those early on.

What inspired the “serious sci-fi” part of the score? For example, the awesome music when Kid Cosmic and the group are exploring the wrecked ship, it sounds like regular science-fiction music. It’s all dark and ominous and really fun for me to listen to, and I’d love to know how that came about.

Thanks, that episode was fun to work on. That was some great guidance from Craig and the team, to score an episode featuring a cat who can see the future with something John Carpenter-y.

Do you have a favorite part of the soundtrack?

“Greasy Spoon Space Gal” is one of the jukebox source tunes I wrote for the show. That kind of simple country rockabilly with silly lyrics is right up my alley.

Thanks again to Andy Bean for taking the time to talk with me about his work on Kid Cosmic!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Kid Cosmic: Season One (2021)

Composer Interviews

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My Thoughts on: Kid Cosmic: Season One (2021)

2021 has absolutely not gone according to plan so far, but there’s finally been a pleasant surprise in the form of Kid Cosmic on Netflix. This show debuted on February 2nd and comes from the brilliant mind of Craig McCracken, who also brought us The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and Wander Over Yonder.

Kid Cosmic takes place in New Mexico and follows the titular Kid Cosmic, a 9 year-old who lives for his dream of being a superhero. His wish appears to be granted when he finds the 5 Cosmic Stones of Power, ultimately distributing them between himself and his friends to make up the team of Kid Cosmic and the Local Heroes:

-Kid Cosmic: The Green Stone of Flight (and something else which is a plot spoiler)

-Jo: The Purple Stone of Portal Creation

-Papa G (Kid’s grandfather): The Yellow Stone of Multiplication (you can clone yourself infinitely)

-Rosa: The Blue Stone of Giant Size (picture a 4 year old 40 feet tall)

-Tuna Sandwich (a cat): The Red Stone of Foresight (it lets you see the future)

Kid Cosmic, Jo, Papa G, Rosa and Tuna Sandwich are all the total opposites of what you’d expect a superhero team to look like, but that’s also what makes them so lovable, because they’re misfits and a lot of people (like me) can relate to that. Jo is my personal favorite out of the group, because I can totally relate to being young and wanting to travel to exciting places around the world.

Don’t let the animated format of the show fool you, the ten episodes that make up season one of Kid Cosmic are among the best superhero content that I’ve seen in almost 12 months of pandemic-enforced boredom (I miss movie theaters). It starts out with a typically cute format, but it quickly gets super serious, especially once you realize that Kid Cosmic, for all his bravado, has no idea what to DO with his superpowers now that he has them. The entire series could be described as an object lesson in how actually being a superhero usually bears little to no resemblance to how it’s described in comic books.

That’s not to say that the series completely subverts all superhero cliches. Without getting too specific, there’s at least one predictable plot twist halfway through the season (predictable but enjoyable), and one plot twist that I guarantee you will not see coming until it actually happens.

Another thing I love about Kid Cosmic? All of the Easter Eggs referencing different comic book or superhero moments. Aside from the obvious reference to the Infinity Stones, my personal favorite? An honest to goodness parody of the Power Rangers, right down to the witty banter and moveset. I won’t say where this Power Rangers shoutout happens, but if you’ve seen any seasons of Power Rangers, ever, then you’ll know it when it happens and it is hysterically funny.

I am somewhat frustrated by how the first season ends, if only because it leaves me dying to see what happens next and there’s no telling when season 2 will be coming out. The good news however is that season 2 of Kid Cosmic will be coming eventually, so until then I think I’m going to have to watch this season several more times because it is just that good. I laughed, I wanted to cry, I apologize for ever doubting that I would enjoy this series.

I know 2021 is still really young, but Kid Cosmic is easily one of the best things to happen on Netflix this year. Go check it out if you can, you won’t regret it!

Let me know what you think about Kid Cosmic in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

TV Reviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂