Beau Black

Multi-talented singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and Emmy-nominated composer, Beau Black began his musical career in his hometown of New York City, performing at concerts at the young age of eight with his famed father, Jay Black of the successful ’60s group, Jay and the Americans, known for hits like the wildly popular classic, “This Magic Moment.” A childhood teeming with gifted vocalists, musicians and an exciting rock and roll culture placed Beau in a highly fertile creative environment, igniting his budding musical interests and nurturing his many talents. Beau’s love for music sparked an innate passion for writing songs and lyrics and he has focused on honing this artistic craft since the age of 12. His unique voice and original compositions have brought him much exposure and success, particularly in the film and television industry.

When did you figure out that you could actually make a living doing music?

I’m still trying to figure it out. I was strangely forced onto stage when I was eight years old by my father who was a famous singer in a group called Jay and the Americans from the 60s. “This Magic Moment/Come a Little bit Closer.” He had a bunch of hits. And out of nowhere, one show he decided to bring me on stage and have me sing one of his songs. I had no idea it was going to happen. Then, it went over so well I became part of the act. And I never knew any different. Since then, I was on stage every show until I was in, maybe my early 20s. So I guess I just kind of knew naturally.

Do you approach your music for shows as an artist, as a songwriter, or as a producer?

I guess I have to wear all the hats at all times. I mean, you have to be an artist in the sense that you are conveying whatever is inside you and what you feel and your vibe. And then, you have to be a producer in how you translate it to other people. I think songwriter goes hand-in-hand with artist. I think they are kind of the same things. I mean, if you mean songwriter by performer, that’s different. But I feel like writing it I approach it the same way.

You write briefs a lot. Briefly explain what is a brief?

A brief is a brief explanation of what is needed for a particular scene or character. It’s taking creative ideas and translating them into a musical direction.

Q: When you read the brief, before you start doing the work, do you already envision the destination? Do you already hear how it’s supposed to sound? How much is improvisation vs planning?

The way I work when I’m doing these things. And especially after doing so many of them.

Q: What did you tell me? How many songs by the end of Lion Guard?

93, I have 12 left but it will be 93 within about three years. So at this point, when I read a brief and I get a little sense of the script and the character that is going to do it. I will let it ruminate in my head for a while. I usually hear the whole thing in my head. Then I translate it down to a single instrument. I sing with it. Then I flourish it into a full on demo or recording.

Q: Most of the time you don’t collaborate with other writers but you do collaborate with executives.

Yeah, I collaborate anyone from high up execs to, I mean, mostly the show runners I collaborate with the most and the producers. But sometimes you collaborate with the animators and the storyboard artists who need specific things to what they are drawing. And then recording all the voice actors is kind of a collaboration as well. Sometimes you need to shift little things to their voice in the session and even their personality. So you are basically collaborating all the time even though I’m alone all the time.

Q: Right, alone together. What is you favorite instrument to write with? How do different instruments influence the song that you are working on?

I’ve been more and more on the piano in the last couple of years and I think that just has to do with the show that I am doing. There like bigger songs so piano seems a little more appropriate. When I need to do something a little more rhythmic, usually on the guitar. It’s funny because I always hear drums first. I don’t write on drums but drums are the first thing I put down when I do anything.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you can give to someone wanting to write original songs for TV and film?

I wish I had a clever answer for this. You just have to do it. Do it, at as much of a high capacity as possible. It’s just experience. There’s no trick to it. You have to write and write and write and write. And learn how to do your production. Try to be less dependent on other people to translate what you want to get done. And just work at it. That’s it. It’s a pain in the ass but it works.