The Music of Adventure Time: Interview with Composer Tim Kiefer

Just as Cartoon Network’s hit series Adventure Time is on its final countdown before the epic finale, what a better way say our goodbyes than taking the time to appreciate the best aspects of the series. Adventure Time took place in the mystical land of Ooo where many fascinating oddities galore. Jake the dog and Finn the human, the inseparable duo found themselves in an endless number of adventures along with other characters such as Princess Bubblegum, Beemo, Lumpy Space Princess, Marceline the Vampire Queen, Ice King and more. Adventure Time is something that you would think came straight out of a magical, colorful, unique daydream. If you’re pleased with the visuals, then you’ve definitely heard the music behind the show.

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The story lines and adventures that came about in this series was everything, but the musical composition behind those scenes made it all tie together in a perfect knot. Think of a mystical and enchanting, followed by epic, and you’ll get the music from Adventure Time. Since the beginning, there has been some musical masterminds behind the soundtrack of this show, and I am honored to have a chance to speak with one of them. Upon the ending of Adventure Time, I am honored to have had the chance to interview composer Tim Kiefer about his favorite musical moments and best memories from working on the past 10 seasons of Adventure Time.

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Cartoon Buzz: Hi Tim! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. So you have been working on Adventure Time as a composer for a majority of the episodes. Tell me a bit about the process it takes to compose a track for the adventurous & mystical series.

Tim Kiefer: Hey! Yeah, it’s been a long time and a lot of episodes. For the most part Pen/Adam would relay the mood and timing of what they wanted, then let me choose my own musical palette. That freedom meant I could mess around with all my favorite musical influences – Scandinavian skweee, Southside Chicago juke or footwork, 8bit nostalgia, or braindance – so long as I was expressive and earnest. I’d have as much as 2 weeks for some episodes and as little as 4 days for others, so some would be super intricate and polished while others were raw and edgy. Either way there was a beauty to how each came together.

Cartoon Buzz: So you collaborated with creator Pendleton Ward throughout the series. What are some moments that you’ll never forget while working with the man behind the show?

Tim Kiefer: Most of all, developing a sound with Casey around Pen’s “buddy music” concept, in which bros are just relaxed, comfortable and imaginative. It was at the very least grounding, if not meditative.
Cartoon Buzz: When composing music for the show, did you often envision viewers like me listening to it? How did you want us to feel or react?
Tim Kiefer: I wanted to paint vivid sound paintings that brought viewers deeeep into the Adventure Time universe as they watched. And most importantly, keep everyone happily on their toes – mashing up esoteric music movements with familiar pop sounds, finding weird ways to play normal instruments, you name it. Just constantly reinforcing how unique and magical the alternate reality of Ooo was.

Cartoon Buzz: How did you get into being a composer? Is it something that you always saw yourself doing or did you become inspired along the way?

Tim Kiefer: Well, I have this eerily accurate epitaph I made as a little kid for school or something, it reads: “Here lies Tim. He made millions of people happy with his music.” I guess it was just always the plan.
Cartoon Buzz: What was it like working on the series early on compared to working on the last episode?

Tim Kiefer: The whole Adventure Time universe was simpler back in the old days, and so was the music. The characters didn’t have much to worry about so there was a lot of chill “buddy music” or party tunes. After 8 years, the series ends on a pretty serious note and you can really feel the weight and complexity of the characters’ journey embedded in the music. I can’t help but tear up when I watch through the finale, it’s so emotionally loaded.
Cartoon Buzz: What are your favorite musical moments from the past 10 seasons?
Tim Kiefer: A few: Fionna & Prince Gumball talking about butts in “Fionna & Cake”, Bananaman’s workout music in “The New Frontier”, Oh What A Good Boy Am I montage in “Five More Short Graybles”, Megamush battle in “Mama Said”.

Cartoon Buzz: I’ll regret not asking this later if I don’t, and this may be a toughie, but who is your all time favorite character on Adventure Time?

Tim Kiefer: I’m a Tree Trunks guy!

Cartoon Buzz: If you could describe Adventure Time in FIVE words, what would they be?

Tim Kiefer: The Hero’s Journey Meets Spongebob

Cartoon Buzz: Many fans are heartbroken that Adventure Time is ending. Is there anything you would like to say to them?

Tim Kiefer: Keep it going in your own way.. it’s everyone’s story to finish.

 

And that’s the end folks! I want to thank Tim Kiefer for taking the time to chat with me!

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Preview of the New Interactive ‘Adventure Time #74’ Comic

It’s up to YOU to save Ooo from being a dull black and white land forever in this new creative and interactive Adventure Time comic. Magic Man is causing The Land of Ooo to lose its color! Only the brave hero holding this book has the power to bring color that Magic Man has sucked up back to Ooo and set everything right before Finn, Jake, and everyone else is in black-and-white forever! Special coloring book issue! I’m sure this issue will bring you back to your childhood days of coloring books and a lot of free time on your hands. Out March 7!

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Adventure Time #74 is published by KaBOOM!, an imprint of BOOM! Studios and written by Conor McCreery. The artistry is done by Jorge Monlongo while Maarta Laiho (& YOU) serves as the colorist and Mike Fiorentino is the letterer. Shelli Paroline & Braden Lamb are the main cover artists while Emei Burrell is the subscription artist.