August 12, 2014

My new gig with Nickelodeon!

I became interested in music because of the influence of children’s television. Hearing Carl Stalling’s erratic & spastic scores and his Raymond Scott arrangements on the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes subconsciously made me a fan of music for moving pictures. At age 11, I was watching PeeWee’s Playhouse unknowingly being influenced by the music of Danny Elfman, Mark Mothersbaugh, and The Residents. When I was 13, my older brothers took me to see THE RESIDENTS perform at the Japan-American Theater in Los Angeles. This was when I became convinced that music could be weird, subversive, and meaningful. I knew that one day I would be doing something similar.

I’ve been lucky enough to do some interesting things since I decided to christen myself Ego Plum. It started in the 1990s with my first CDs – recorded mostly with Casio keyboards on a 4-track recorder in my bedroom. I followed that in the 2000s by putting together the Ebola Music Orchestra, which was basically my most talented friends performing the imaginary cartoon soundtracks I had in my head.  This was followed by actually writing music for independent films as well as my first real cartoon: the weirdly wonderful (but short-lived) TV series created by Amy Winfrey, MAKING FIENDS.

This year, I signed a contract with Nickelodeon to write music & songs for a new cartoon series called BAD SEEDS (working title). It is the brainchild of C.H. Greenblatt (who is best known as the creator of Cartoon Network’s CHOWDER back in 2007 and also for his work on SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS). It’s a super peculiar & heartwarming show that I think most of you will love when it airs next year.

Upon signing the contract, I implored Nickelodeon to do something the network had never done before. I wanted to follow in the tradition of the classic cartoons of the golden age of animation. I told them I wanted to score the show with a 40-piece orchestra. The only other place where orchestral music is currently heard in animated television is on a primetime show like THE SIMPSON’S, or on Seth McFarlane shows like FAMILY GUY with their $2 million-per-episode budgets. Recording with a full orchestra has been unheard of for Nickelodeon and most TV animation for decades! After months of back & forth between the network, my agent, and lawyers, they finally agreed! I am really grateful to the studio for taking this giant leap of faith on me. I have never done anything like this, but I’ve always known that I was meant to do it.

By the way, my score will not be only orchestral. I’ve put together an unusual sound palette that incorporates many of my favorite post-analog sound machines I used as I was growing up in the 80’s and 90's. Try and imagine the charming low-fidelity quality of Casio SK-1’s, Yamaha VSS-30’s, Casio VL-1’s, Radioshack/Realistic plastic keyboards in conjunction with the gravitas of an orchestra of 40 musicians culled from the Seattle Philharmonic and the Seattle Opera. I am holding true to everything I did when I started, but doing it on a grander scale.

Here are some pictures from our first session this last weekend up in Seattle’s STUDIO X. An amazing recording facility where Soundgarden recorded their latest studio album, King Animal:

Our engineer, Reed Ruddy at the helm of the SSL 4064G Mixer.
Pretending like I know what I'm doing.
Score Producer Steve Bartek explaining something-or-other to me. (Note: Yo-Landi t-shirt)
The 40-some super-talented musicians of the Seattle Philharmonic and the Seattle Opera.
Steve Bartek talking to the members of the orchestra.
Me with my wondrous assistant John Nobori  
Series creator, C.H. Greenblatt sitting with Nickelodeon VP of Current Series,
Claudia Spinelli, and VP of Animation Production, Dina Buteyn.

I’m really excited to share all the new music I’ve been writing, and I can't wait for you all to see Carl Greenblatt's amazing new show on Nickelodeon in early 2015. THANK YOU ALL for your continued support!


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(Photos courtesy of John Nobori)

October 29, 2012

Machine-Man: The Musical Mayhem of Raymond Scott

Anyone that's followed my work probably knows that one of my biggest musical influences is Raymond Scott. Aside from making the music that was so beautifully adapted by Carl Stalling to hundreds of the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes, Raymond Scott was also a recluse inventor of electronic instruments and essentially pioneered electronica and electronic dance music with his musical experiments in the late 50's and 60's. That second part of his career had mostly remained a secret until the release of the critically-acclaimed  Manhattan Research, INC.  double-CD in 2000 (produced by Jeff Winner and Gert-Jan Blom).

Last year I contacted my friend Steve Bartek (composer/orchestrator/Oingo Boingo guitarist) with the idea of putting together an ambitious tribute to Raymond Scott in which we would offer our own takes on his music - everything from his insane cartoon jazz to his inexplicable electronic compositions. Going a step further, I also contacted my friend Sean Cawelti (of the award-winning puppet/theater group Rogue Artists Ensemble) to help re-create the infamous Raymond Scott/Jim Henson collaborations for the first time ever on stage.  With the invaluable assistance and blessings of music historian/producer/archivist Jeff Winner, we were able to make this dream a reality. I am very happy to announce

Machine-Man: The Musical Mayhem of Raymond Scott

Friday, November 9 • 8:30pm

I've assembled a talented team of electronic wizards to help me bring Scott's futuristic music to life. They include Josh Mancell, John Nobori, Elizabeth Luttinger,  Tara Busch, and Kevin Sukho Lee. I also recruited the super-talented Amy Winfrey (creator of Nickelodeon's acclaimed cartoon series MAKING FIENDS) to create original animations for my electronic set. 

Steve Bartek has also put together an amazing band that includes some of his old friends from Oingo Boingo. He will definitely not disappoint. Please get your tickets soon because the rumor is this event is on it's way to selling out!

Thank you!

Ego Plum

Press release from Walt Disney Concert Hall:

LOS ANGELES, CA — REDCAT, CalArts’ downtown center for contemporary arts, presents in cooperation with JEFF E. WINNER of The Raymond Scott Archives, a special evening celebrating pioneer of electronic music Raymond Scott. Machine-Man: The Musical Mayhem of Raymond Scott will be held at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater on Friday, November 9 at 8:30 pm.

Though musical shape-shifter Raymond Scott may no longer be a household name, his inimitable “cartoon jazz” is instantly recognized by millions: it has been adapted to underscore the antics of BUGS BUNNYDAFFY DUCKREN & STIMPYTHE SIMPSONS, and many other cartoon characters for 75 years. Scott, moreover, was an inventor of instruments and a pioneer of electronic music.

In this unprecedented celebration of Scott’s polymorphic career, former OINGO BOINGO co-founder and guitarist STEVE BARTEK and his band (including other Oingo Boingo alums) find new takes on the composer’s early cartoon classics, while composer EGO PLUM’s ensemble re-envisions Scott’s farsighted electronica. Joining in is theRogue Artists Ensemble who will stage a first-ever live interpretation of a vintage Scott film collaboration with MUPPETS creator JIM HENSON.

October 7, 2012


About a year ago, I joined a collective of multi-disciplinary visionaries called the Rogue Artists Ensemble. They are a Los Angeles-based theater company responsible for some of the most innovative stage productions I have ever seen. I composed music for their critically-acclaimed GOGOL PROJECT in 2009 and was awarded an Ovation Honor for my music 
by the Los Angeles Stage Alliance.

For over 10 years now, the Rogue Artists Ensemble have been quietly in development of an amazing project that will finally see the light of day in the Fall of 2013: PINOCCHIO, as only the Rogue's could imagine it. I am very excited to announce that I will be composing the score and all the original songs for this show.

Based on the original text by Carlo Collodi, it is safe to say that this will not be anything like Walt Disney's much beloved animated film from 1940. The Rogue's Pinocchio will finally shed light on the real story of the wooden boy and create an adult-minded retelling of this tale of lust, desire, death, birth, madness and ultimately hope. If you always wanted to see the Cricket die, the Blue Fairy as the Angel of Death, and Pinocchio get hung by the neck, then you need to support this project!

This is a plea. We need to raise $20,000 by October 21st in order to make Pinocchio happen. Please take 3 minutes to watch our kickstarter video, make a tax-deductible contribution, and then help spread the word!

We are 1/3 of the way there and have 2 weeks left on this campaign. By supporting Pinocchio, you'll receive amazing rewards, including: original artwork, A sneak preview from the original Pinocchio soundtrack, tickets to Disneyland with a guided tour by the Rogue's Artistic Director Sean Cawelti, an actual Pinocchio puppet, original artwork, custom masks, the complete soundtrack to Pinocchio before it's released to the public, and chance to have me perform the music of Pinocchio in your living room!

Please get to the Kickstarter page now and support this amazing project:

Additional information about the Rogue Artists Ensemble's:

Additional information about me:

Thank you!


May 23, 2012

I am proud to announce that THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X is screening at Hollywood's Chinese Theaters as part of the Dances with Films Festival!

Dances With Films
Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood, CA
Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 • 2:45pm

ADVANCE tickets are NOW ON SALE and may be purchased through OR by going directly to the Chinese Theatre box office.  All tickets are $10 prior to May 31st.  THEREAFTER all tickets are $13.

This film features my first orchestral score as well as my orchestrations and arrangements of Scott Martin's original songs. This music represents where the better part of my 2011 went, so I am eager to share it with friends and fans in Los Angeles. I was heavily inspired by Franz Waxman's score to The Bride of Frankenstein, Bernard Herrmann's 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and 1950's Hollywood stock horror/sci-fi music. Here's a sneak preview of some of my music from The Ghastly Love of Johnny X! Coming soon on Kritzerland Records:

There will be a Q&A after the film for which I will be present, as well as director Paul Bunnell, and a bunch of our cast! Buy your tickets now before they sell out!

April 6, 2012

Forbidden Zone 2: The Forbidden Galaxy

I don't even know what to say about this. This is something out of a dream. I grew up being such a huge fan of Oingo Boingo and Richard Elfman's cult film, "The Forbidden Zone." It was all such a big part of my life when I was 15/16.

Fast forward to twenty years later, Richard calls a meeting with me... "Hey Ego, I'm writing a sequel to Forbidden Zone and I was wondering if you would be interested in writing music and songs for it with my brother Danny? As you can imagine, he is terribly busy with film commitments and we think you would be great... blah blah blah"

I fell on the floor and and I've yet to come out of this dream! FZ2 will start filming in the fall, but here's a little teaser that was filmed for the SyFy channel featuring an original piece of music from yours truly and Danny Elfman:

-Ego Plum

February 29, 2012

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X

I spent the better part of 2011 working on a single project: the musical score to Paul Bunnell's, THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X. I had never composed music at the grandiose scale Paul was asking for – but for some reason, he knew that I would be capable of doing it. Was I in over my head? Probably! Starting around February, I spent several weeks walking in circles at the track at my gym listening to a few incredible film scores over and over. I was attempting to learn by osmosis and channel the spirits of Bernard Herrmann's scores to The 7th Voyage of SinbadVertigoThe Day The Earth Stood Still, and Psycho. Then there was James Horner's score to Something Wicked This Way Comes, which seemed completely beyond my range of abilities. I listened to the music John Williams composed & adapted for the Indiana Jones Ride at Disneyland for some very specific references. I made myself loopy from Jerry Goldsmith's Twilight Zone television scores. Finally (and most importantly) I immersed myself in Franz Waxman's score to Bride of Frankenstein, which I have now heard more than any film score ever! What I learned from listening to Waxman's Bride of Frankenstein score may have laid the foundation for most of the music I wrote for Johnny X. In fact, what I learned from listening to Waxman may have laid the foundation for the rest of my composing career!

After about six months, I emerged from my self-imposed exile with what would be my proudest musical achievement: about 78 minutes of original orchestral music composed, recorded, and produced for the Ghastly Love of Johnny X! (See trailer below)

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X will have it's world premiere at
the CINEQUEST Film Festival in beautiful San Jose, California!

Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 9:30PM

presented in glorious 35mm!

Cast & Crew Q&A session will follow the film screening

Admission: $10

(The film will also be screened on March 6th & 10th at the San Jose Repertory Theater)

Please come by and say hello. I will be at the screening, as well as director Paul Bunnell and stars Creed Bratton (The Office), Kate Maberly (The Secret Garden), and others! Also,  I will be live on the air at KFJC 89.7FM (San Jose) with Paul Bunnell talking a little more about Johnny X on Saturday, March 3rd at 11am. I could not be more excited about sharing this work because I really feel it's the best musical thing I've ever done. Stay tuned for an official soundtrack release on the Kritzerland label in a few months! In the meantime, here's a sneak peek at one of the more subtle cues from the film that involves a spaceship, a biker gang, and a disembodied head floating in space (don't ask!).

additional info about the film at the Johnny X website:

October 20, 2011

My Rejected Musical Work: The Jimmy Neutron Spin-Off!

Back in May of 2009, Nickelodeon was gracious enough to ask me to audition for a new show that was in the works called Planet Sheen. This was to be a spin-off of the wildly popular 2002 TV series The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius as well as the 2001 Oscar-nominated film Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. This new CGI-animated show would follow the antics of Jimmy's sidekick, Sheen Estevez, as he caused mischief on a distant planet with an entirely new cast of characters. The prospect of landing this scoring gig seemed exciting because in the producers notes they explained that they were looking for a quirky, New Wave-y sound reminiscent of Mark Mothersbaugh (DEVO) and Danny Elfman (Oingo Boingo). Needless to say, I felt right at home within these parameters! I came up with three different theme ideas, all in slightly different, but keeping in mind the producer's notes.

The first thing I did was a bubbly, pop-punk cross between DEVO, X, and They Might Be Giants with some temporary lyrics I came up with- just to give them an idea of how words would fit in to the song:

Here's a theme for Planet Sheen.
I know... It's a spin-off show... based on Jimmy Neutron.
That's my show!
It's called Planet Sheen!
It's called Planet Sheen!

I couldn't stop thinking about the B-52's for some reason so for my second attempt I had this vision of a mutated Planet Claire complete with sputnik satellites and a bit more rock energy. Finally, the third version was a simple, safe, punk-nouveau ditty complete with New Wave synths and a surf guitar solo.

The prospect of landing a new cartoon series at Nickelodeon during this time would have been great for me. I had just come off of composing music for the short-lived, but critically-acclaimed, Making Fiends which was currently airing on Nicktoons every week so my hopes were high. I submitted the songs, along with some additional spec cues for their early animatic pilot and anxiously awaited a reply.

I didn't get the job.

Ego Plum

PS- In case you're wondering, this is what they went with: