We were offered a very unique opportunity and we jumped on it, interview someone from the Andi Mack show…wait we have already done interviews with most of the leads, so I wonder who they had in mind? Meet Jacob Yoffee, the artist that handles the score of Andi Mack, helping to evoke all the emotions that the characters portray with music. The Andi Mack show is something a bit different for Disney and Jacob lends his talent to make it the best that is can be. Try watching the show with the volume muted, it just does not give us the same depth, especially in a show like this.
Thanks to Jacob Yoffee for giving us some insight on his work on the Andi Mack show on Disney Channel.
BSCKids: In your own words, what is a score?
Jacob Yoffee: A score is an original, custom-designed body of music that supports a visual experience. It can be anything from a full orchestra to guitar, bass, drums or even just a piano. It’s all about supporting the story & characters with the right energy.
BSCKids: How did you get the opportunity to do the score for Andi Mack?
Jacob Yoffee: The creator of Andi Mack, Terri Minsky, had worked with me on MTV’s Finding Carter back in 2014. When this show went to series she recommended me to Disney. It’s a dream gig for me since I’m able to write so many kinds of music that I love, so I went after it with everything I had. There was an audition process where I competed with several other composers, writing demo music for particular scenes and crafting some tracks for an overall sound world for the show. We went a few rounds until they picked me as the show’s composer.
BSCKids: What was your background and how did you get into the business of working on television shows?
Jacob Yoffee: I knew when I was 8 years old, while watching Gremlins, that I wanted to write music for movies & television. My college years were spent studying music composition, orchestration & jazz improvisation at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. After that I spent several years performing with rock, jazz, pop, neo-soul, country & hip-hop groups for a living before finally coming back to composing. It was amazing – kind of a second college education. It really prepared me for scoring because, as a film composer, you have to write in ALL styles of music. (especially on a show like Andi mack!)
BSCKids: Did you get to watch some episodes before starting on the work, or did you just go off of the description that they gave you?
Jacob Yoffee: Before writing any music, the producers and I sit together and watch through an episode; discussing each moment, what the characters are going through, what emotions we want to support or what jokes we want to mark musically. For the pilot of a show it’s always daunting because you have to find the sound – Andi Mack is a very energetic and uplifting world that also has some more emotional moments. So I had to experiment and find a balance between a pop/rock sound and some more orchestral elements. Once we had that going I was able to focus on supporting the story which, for me, is when the real fun begins.
BSCKids: Does meeting the actors influence your work at all, or do you score just to the scene?
Jacob Yoffee: It wasn’t until I’d completed half the season that I met the actors. Peyton, who plays Andi Mack, is so full of life and positive energy, I can see why she jumps off the screen. It definitely influenced me afterward just in the sense of inspiration. Most of my work is done alone and, meeting some of the cast was wonderful because you can tap into that energy & excitement – it’s contagious and great for pulling those all-nighters to meet the deadlines.
BSCKids: How were you able to find the balance to use the scores to keep kids interested, but at the same time keep the more mature theme of the show?
Jacob Yoffee: I love listening to new music and I’m constantly searching for new artists and composers. It’s crucial to stay inspired and genuinely excited about every piece of music you write. The characters Andi, Buffy & Cyrus are always ON, there are no dull moments – every word or gesture is pushing the story along. So musically I’ve got to match that and then drive the energy of those moments. If it doesn’t have that feeling of excitement I go back to the drawing board. The serious moments are actually much easier because, in those situations, I find I just need to ‘stay out of the way’. A subtle approach ends up making the emotions more powerful.
BSCKids: Do you find that since there are three generations on the show that each generation has a uniqueness to it when you are working on the show from the standpoint of the score?
Jacob Yoffee: Regardless of age all the actors on the show seem to really ‘get it’. There’s always a sense of fun that pervades each performance, so each episode has an emotional continuity. It was a conscious decision not to make it feel more serious when it’s just the grandparents talking or just Bex & Bowie. And to counter that the kids have conversations that rival any ‘serious’ dialogue the older generations may have. Musically speaking I strive to score all the characters evenly, within the world of the show – especially so that we never drop energy if, say, Andi isn’t on screen.
BSCKids: Besides Andi Mack, what would you say is your favorite music work you have done for a television show?
Jacob Yoffee: One of my first television jobs was scoring ‘Blue’ for Rodrigo Garcia. Julia Stiles starred as a single mother struggling with a lot of serious issues. The writing on the show, along with the performances, was a beautiful tapestry for score and I loved working with that material.
BSCKids: Is there anything else that you are working on that you can tell us about?
Jacob Yoffee: I’m just wrapping work on a feature called The Valley, directed by Saila Kariat, which is about suicide & mental health. It follows an Indian-American family living in Silicon valley and explores the balance between career & happiness. It’s a fantastic film from a first-time director and I’m extremely excited for her and the future of the project. We recorded the orchestra here in Los Angeles with some AMAZING musicians and, later this year, I’ll be releasing the album. I can’t wait for people to hear it!
BSCKids: Besides working on music, what hobbies do you have?
Jacob Yoffee: My wife & I have both become ‘foodies’. LA offers some of the most amazing restaurants you can imagine and we spend way too much money eating out because of it. Lately my favorites have been BBQ and Sushi. (but not at the same time)
BSCKids: Where can we find you on the internet?
Jacob Yoffee: In addition to Youtube & Soundcloud, you can find almost everything on my website: www.jacobyoffeemusic.com