Hi! I’m Brian, composer of music on many different TV & Film projects. I score the retro synth infused score to Star vs. the Forces of Evil, and even got to collaborate with Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump on a track for the series. Other projects I have composed music for include Abby’s, How I Met Your Mother and Bones.

Ask me anything about my composing process, my favorite characters or anything really! Really looking forward to chatting!

Proof: https://twitter.com/BrianWithAnH/status/1130209247004774400


Ask Me Anything! AMA!

EDIT: It's 1:00 now and I have to run. But I am SO flattered by all these questions and I will definitely come back later to answer some more! I hope you guys had fun over the past hour. This was a blast. Talk again soon!

EDIT AGAIN: It's about 5:00 and I came back and answered a few more questions that I had missed. Keep asking, I'll try to stop by throughout the week!

Comments: 516 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

BrianHKim289 karma

Hey guys I'm here let's do this thing

aruce9177 karma

Will we ever get a full version of here goes a shining star which is the season 3-4 outro?

BrianHKim171 karma

Probably not? It was a very tricky track to put together, because the singer (Agnes Shin) is in South Korea, and it was a lot of tough scheduling to put together.

But I'm not going to say 100% no. Who knows where this road will take me, maybe someday in the future it will become necessary and crucial? But right now, no plans.

smellyspunkjunk162 karma

Bless your music. It always ties the show together and give that punch of emotion. Im curious. On SVTFOE do you have to see the storyboards and create the music based off that? Or are you told the main scene and the storyboards follow your music?

BrianHKim170 karma

It depends! Like 90% of the time I'm one of the last people to see an episode, so all the animation is done and the edit is locked to time (meaning they're not going to make any more timing changes to picture). So all the storyboarding and stuff has happened WAYYY earlier, like sometimes a year earlier.

BUT. If there's a song, or some kind of music that the characters dance to -- basically anything where the animation has to be timed to music -- then I get started at the storyboard stage. I'll get sent PDFs or a short movie file of the segment, and then I'll compose something, and then me and the artists go back and forth about how it's working or not working.

Like one that may have flown under the radar for you guys -- the Pie Island episode, where Star sees all the Pie Folk making pies, there's kind of this Stomp-style track of boots and dough squishes and brooms and stuff that's all to rhythm. I had to make that track to the storyboard animatic, so the animators knew what sounds they'd have to animate.

WestCoast2224146 karma

Hi Brian!

What was your favorite song you helped compose in How I Met Your Mother?

BrianHKim403 karma

Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit! From the 100th episode. It was my first big project on the show and I was just an assistant to the main composer (John Swihart) at the time. But Swihart knew I had a big musical theater background and felt like this was a good chance to see what I was made of. So I worked very closely with Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, and choreographer Zach Woodlee of Glee, and we tinkered away at this one song for like two months, and then had a huge recording session at my favorite studio in LA, and I got to play piano on the song and sing backup vocals and oh man... for a young guy in his 20s who had just moved to LA not that long before, it was such a dream.

Amanbbi27 karma

Probably the slap songs that barney sang at thanksgivings.

BrianHKim101 karma

I didn't write this one! Carter and Craig did. BUT I did arrange the Boyz II Men version from the final season. I totally fanboyed during that recording session.

PewdiepieSucks130 karma

Your work on svtfoe is one of my favourites ever.

What were your main inspirations while composing? What was our favourite piece you made for the show?

BrianHKim136 karma

Daron is an unabashed Sailor Moon fan, so a lot of our early discussions were about that show and how it used certain instruments and sounds. And that led to a deep dive in a lot of anime from that period, and also me just watching lots of shows (anime or not) that I felt lent itself toward that kind of heightened style and emotion. So I think for me, the biggest inspirations were: 1) retro anime, particularly Sailor Moon and Ranma 1/2; 2) Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV show, not movie, though I love the movie, RIP Luke Perry); 3) Studio Ghibli films like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke; 4) Lost.

As for favorite piece in the show, right now I'm pretty partial to the whole closing sequence in the finale, from the portals onward.

BrianHKim98 karma

It's 12:15 now and I've been doing this for 15 minutes and all I'm doing is typing but I'm SO thirsty, I don't get it

ShmarcoShmiaz81 karma

I see you named your kid after Tom. How do you think this makes Adam feel?! - not Adam

BrianHKim59 karma

Hi Not-Adam! Don't feel bad, I'm sure someone loves you.

r0guezilla_56 karma

What was the process behind "Running to the portals", it's just SO SO GOOD? It's the kind of music that is both happy and hopeful but at the same time sad, heart clenching and tear inducing.

BrianHKim85 karma

I spent a really long time on this cue, because I knew how important it was, and I could tell how much love and care went into the artwork and the pacing and all the character callbacks. And I knew that not many opportunities like this come along during a career, sometimes never -- where you have YEARS of buildup and stories and emotions that are all coming together in one scene.

So I knew I wanted the cue to have one central ostinato (repeating idea) that I could have running through the whole thing, because that would give it momentum and also make the cue feel cohesive throughout. And that ostinato had to be flexible enough that I could move chords around it and give it shape, while still making harmonic sense. And I also wanted this ostinato to fit into the overall aesthetic of the show. So I came up with the string idea you hear at the beginning of the cue, that continues throughout.

Once I had that, it was just a matter of finding the right chords at the right moments. Like, the cue feels like it's in A minor for most of the time, but you can be tricky and if you switch to the relative major (C major) at the right moment then it feels like the world opens up and takes a more heroic bent... I don't remember exactly where I do that, but it was somewhere in the middle of the cue, where the audience has had enough time to realize what's happening. If you make a harmonic switch like that too early in a cue it won't have the same impact, because you need to really feel the rug before it's pulled out, you know? Or not? It's hard to describe music stuff with words! :)

wonder144052 karma

What do you think Star and Marco's wedding song would be?

Also, I've been looking for a copy of La Calaca Feliz (the song Marco plays when he's in Star's room in Blood Moon Ball) which is the ultimate earworm! Can you post it?

Thank you for your incredible work!!


BrianHKim89 karma

Wedding song: I think Star and Marco would totally be one of those couples that did a choreographed first wedding dance. And it would probably be a Love Sentence song. But NOT "Just Friends."

I'm not posting La Calaca Feliz because my Spanish pronunciation is SUPER embarrassing. I'm happy just leaving it in the background of the show where no one can judge me! :)

Ngame98936 karma

Hi Brian, your work is a huge part of the reason why SVTFOE is so special to me. Thanks for letting me fanboy at you for a few minutes at the Blood Moon Ball event, it was one of the highlights of my year so far.

In Here to Help, I noticed that when Star opens up her talk with Marco about wanting to be alone together and remembering what he said in the magic, Star's own personal theme plays for a few seconds. This really stood out to me since, as far as I can recall, that theme was usually used for more plot-centric or actiony triumphant moments for Star as a princess/queen (please correct me if I'm wrong here). Was there a specific motivation to use it here?

Also, what's your favorite variation on the Starco theme that you've written for the show?

BrianHKim36 karma

Hi! I remember you and your friend! Nice to meet you guys too!

You are correct, and I wanted to bring in that theme for just a quick moment because of how important it was to Star, but the moment is SO SHORT. The music needed some kind of callback, even if just for a couple seconds, because I hoped that would trigger some extra emotions in the viewer.

My favorite variation of the Starco theme comes in the final episode, but I don't want to spoil where it is because I don't know if everyone here has scene the episode. But I think the theme only appears once in the episode? Maybe? So if you've seen it, you know. :)

racionador32 karma

Hi brian, thanks for the soundtrack, now that the Tv show ended theres any chance for future new comics or even a new book related to Star vs the forces of evil or anything else?

sorry i know its not you area but i really curious if the show ended for good or if theres anything else.

BrianHKim6 karma

I don't know! Wish I had a better answer for you. Sorry!

Killcode110332 karma

What is something that you never thought you would have to learn but ended up being a big part of your career?

BrianHKim70 karma

I have spent a LOT of my time singing a cappella music. Particularly in college, where I was in a couple groups. Like, for four years straight, the thing I did most was sing a cappella. And what's funny is the skillset that I developed doing that -- arranging and producing songs, being able to sing anywhere anytime at the drop of a hat, good listening skills, team management because I was usually the director of these groups, etc -- all that stuff has come in way more handy in my current life than all the book studies I did during school.


HannaSykes23 karma

Hi, Brian! I love you 💜

Will you play the piano at Star and Marco's wedding? 🤣 Could you do some melody for that moment in the future for fans? Please!

BrianHKim29 karma

Hi Hanna!

Not a bad idea, maybe something for Tumblr later. :)

Wraithdagger1220 karma

Some lighthearted questions:

  • What is your favorite color?
  • What did you really think of Star's brownies?
  • Who do you have a crush on?

BrianHKim38 karma

1) Blue. I know that's boring. But it's true. Every time I read "The Day the Crayons Quit" with my kid, and we come to the page where the blue crayon is complaining about how he's all stubby from all the overuse, I feel attacked.

2) Listen if it has chocolate and butter in it I'm not gonna complain.

3) Um, have you seen me post about my wife? It's embarrassing how much I love my wife. My wife is awesome.

dcoates123414 karma

Would you comment on whether they may release an album collection of the SVTFOE music?

I would love to have even a small segment of these great scores!

BrianHKim38 karma

I get asked this question a lot, and I would LOVE for Disney to release an official album, with artwork and liner notes and unreleased tracks and all that jazz. But it's unfortunately not up to me.

But I'm not going to stop you if you, I dunno, start a petition or send a lot of passionate letters or something. Hehehe.

Snoopy2011113 karma

Hey Brian, thanks for doing this AMA and congrats on strongly finishing a series! It's been an emotional journey that's paralleled many of our own personal growths, in no small part due to your fantastic score. Way back in November of 2016 you answered a Tumblr ask from me about your job, and while your answers were great the most important takeaway for me was your answer for "what was the #1 thing you've learned on the job?"

>The job is, at most, only half about writing. The other half is being a receptive, emotionally aware person...so if you’re seeking advice, I’d say be a good musician, but also be a good person. I am still working on both of those things.

This had a profound impact on me. Just a week ago I graduated college, and I'm going to get my master's in Sound Design, but in everything I've done since that ask I've paid immense attention to the emotions of the content and of the people around me, and it's really been paying dividends, maybe minus the part where I cry at movies, shows, and games. I wanted to say thank you, but also ask actual questions:

  1. What was the most difficult stretch of time to work on Star for you? Not like writer's block, but as a person. Maybe a particular season or episode or life event?
  2. How did/have you managed to balance artistic work with having a family? A big anxiety of mine right now is the classic "working at McDonalds for life" fear.
  3. I never recall much serious musical analysis springing up around Star Vs. the same way that there has been for, say, Steven Universe. Perhaps someday I'll tackle that as a post-mortem, but were there any particular moments where you rubbed your hands and cackled with musical foreshadowing/storytelling?

BrianHKim19 karma

I love this! Congrats on graduating and best of luck with your masters!

  1. When my first son was born, I really struggled with how to be a good father, because I had all these ideas of what a good father was (from my own dad, from TV/film, from books, from all the parenting blogs I had been reading), and it was so hard to step away from my family and sit down to work. But I do feel, now, that pursuing your passion is a good example to set for your kids too, and so I do my best every day to not only be present in my children's lives, but also to show them that daddy is working hard to chase his dreams.
  2. Oh man I just kind of answered this one! I should have read ahead. The fear is what will drive you. :) Don't let it weigh you down, let it push you forward.
  3. It was hard for me to foreshadow on the show because I didn't always know what was coming, but when Eclipsa battles Meteora at the end of season 3, I was THRILLED that I could bring back Ecipsa's theme in such a dramatic, climactic scene! I did not expect to be able to do that when I first wrote the theme.

brb100612 karma

Not sure if you grew up during the "Disney Afternoon" era but what was your favorite Disney Afternoon show? My all time favorite is Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers (Which is currently in development as a live-action/CGI hybrid).

BrianHKim27 karma


I was so disappointed when the Nintendo game came out that you couldn't actually play as Zipper.

But then I was happy because that game is dope.

Davichek11 karma

What were your favorite Star vs. episodes in general?

BrianHKim27 karma

I've thought about this a lot over the past few months as the show has come to a close, and I have to say, the episode I keep coming back to is Naysaya. For lots of reasons:

1) Adam's work on the episode is spectacular and so empathetic. When he's confessing all his feelings to Jackie, I feel like he's saying things that teenage-me also felt, and his honesty is so mature and refreshing.

2) The music is sparse, which is pretty unique for the show, and so the episode is super dialogue-driven. And the music just comes in to highlight and give a little structure, but there are no big bells and whistles. It's about characters and their thoughts and feelings and I love that.

3) Naysaya loves cereal and I love cereal.

pbjoanie10 karma

You mentioned after "Curse of the Blood Moon" that there were other Tumblr-only cues that made it into the latest season. What were those?

Also, would you consider making the series' music downloadable (considering how unlikely an official soundtrack is) or are you not allowed to do that?

BrianHKim25 karma

The "Too Little Too Late" performance that Tom and Marco do in "Cornonation" -- I wrote that version as a joke for Tumblr, like some big bombastic 80s version of the song that no one asked for but I just felt like doing.

So when I saw the scene I was like hehehehehe I got something perfect for this.

Also I can't really make anything downloadable. I'm not even sure if I'm supposed to be posting stuff on Tumblr or Soundcloud, but hey no one has stopped me yet!


Nitrogenia8 karma

Hi, Brian, I loved your work on the show! What song and scene was the most fun/rewarding to write for?

EDIT: Looks like you've answered this question. Multiple times. But I might as well update it, kind of, because there's another question that's also on my mind. Was there any specific scene in SVTFOE that really... got you? You know, like hit you, made ya feel something. Because even though it's supposedly a children's show, it had some real truths.

BrianHKim4 karma

Two scenes -- one, I mentioned before, is Marco confessing everything to Jackie in "Naysaya", and the second one is similar, Marco coming clean during "Sleepover." Teen years are hard, and my teen years were a hot mess, and so I really appreciate and relate to these open acknowledgements of emotions on the show.

TormentDubz_EDM7 karma

Do you use any music production software such as FL Studio or Ableton?

BrianHKim9 karma

Mainly Cubase. But also Ableton and Pro Tools, when the need arises.

Wraithdagger127 karma

Brian, thank you for doing your part to bring Star to life.

Since the show has such a varied soundtrack, with different moods and tones to set, what would you say are your sources of inspiration for creating so much wonderful art?

BrianHKim3 karma

Thank you for watching!

The vibe of a cue will depend on two things, mainly -- the emotions of the characters in the scene, and the visuals. The artwork on SVTFOE is so incredible, and many times the palette in the backgrounds or characters will speak directly to the kind of sound Daron and crew want (a great example of this being the 60s vibe of Kelly's world). So I take that inspiration and then figure out what the characters are feeling, and mix it all in a blender and see what comes out.

fake_plastic_peace7 karma

Did Jason Segal have any/significant influence on the various little songs that he and others sang throughout HIMYM?

BrianHKim7 karma

Totally. Jason is a fantastic musician, and is obviously hilarious and a terrific actor. So whenever we'd go into the studio to record him, a lot of what we did was give him very basic instructions and then just let him do his thing. There's a series of songs Marshall "wrote" on his laptop, about things like losing a cat, or ordering takeout, and while Carter and Craig wrote the lyrics and I built the instrumental tracks, the emotion and delivery is all Jason.

puhtahtoe6 karma

Hi Brian, I loved your work on SvtFoE!

I don't have much of a question, I just want to heap on some praise.

I always made a point to listen for each character's leitmotif to appear and it made watching the show feel like a more intimate experience. Your development of the themes over the course of the show is remarkable.

The Starco theme you established in Thought We'd Never See Each Other is beautiful and one of my favorites. It never fails to tug on my heartstrings.

The Blood Moon Waltz is brilliant and I've literally sat listening to it on repeat. The revised version with the shift to major this season was a pleasant surprise. The version you posted on tumblr feels like it cuts off before it finishes (because of the scene abruptly ending I assume), do you consider it done or is there a possibility of an extended version? Either way, it's beautiful.

When you wrote the Blood Moon Waltz and Thought We'd Never See Each Other did you have official confirmation that they would end up together or were you going with your gut?

Other than Starco, Moon's theme and the variations it goes through might be my favorite but it's hard to pick. One of my favorite moments is when you used Star's and Moon's theme together at the end of Flags. I really have too many good things I'd like to say about all the character themes but I don't want to take up too much of your time here.

Your breakdown of the music at the end of Conquer was really interesting to watch and it'd be awesome if we could see more like that (I'd personally be interested in hearing how you developed each character's theme) but I'm sure you're a busy guy.

I don't know if it's up to you but I'd buy a soundtrack album of the show if there was one. Or at least a compilation of the leitmotifs and their variations.

Edit: Also wanna say that I sometimes find myself singing along to Just Friends in the car.

Edit: Also also, Star is a Dipper and Star's Princess Song are unbelievably good. Like I said, too many good things to mention I can't think of them all.

Thank you for helping to bring this amazing show to life!

BrianHKim4 karma

Thank you for your kind words! Let's see if I can get to your specific questions...

The Blood Moon Waltz in CotBM -- I consider it done, the whole purpose of that cue was to get interrupted before their conversation finishes, and so I tailored the chord progression in a way that would ensure it felt interrupted.

I rarely know what's going to happen in future episodes when I score a scene, so at no point during the show did I know Star and Marco's ultimate fate until their ultimate fate actually happened. I just go with the emotions on screen at any given moment.

I hope to do another cue breakdown video but it depends on time! I just had another kid so my free time is pretty minimal nowadays. :)

craftslover136 karma

Brian, I love you very much. My question is: What was your best experience working on svtfoe? If you were asked to make a new season or a movie for svtfoe, would you participate?

BrianHKim23 karma

I love YOU very much.

I loved every minute working on SVTFOE. Even the moments where I was stressed or behind schedule or felt like I couldn't figure out a scene, I was always aware that what I was doing was a rare opportunity, and I never took that for granted.

Of course I would participate in anything SVTFOE-related in the future. :) But, 100% truthful, I don't know of any future plans for the show. Doesn't mean they won't do anything! Just don't expect me to leak anything, b/c I ain't got anything to leak.

Hetos276 karma

Hi Brian! Huge huge fan of your work on Svtfoe! I personally think you should be given an award for your amazing compositions throughout the series. I have a few questions for you.

1.)How did you get the job scoring SVTFOE?

2.) Can you tell us what working with Mr. Stump was like?

3.) Do you have any amusing experiences working with the voice actors of Star vs. to share?

BrianHKim3 karma

1) Blind audition! Disney sent out the first episode to a bunch of composers to score and I guess I wrote the best demo?

2) Super fun, he's obviously extremely talented. Brought tons of great ideas to the table. Unlimited vocal range. But also surprisingly funny!

3) It's always great working with any of the actors, and I got to work with most of them at some point or another. I love getting to work with Adam, b/c he and I have become buds over the years and it's just like hanging out whenever we had to record anything. And I was FREAKING OUT when we recorded with Jaime Camil, because Jane the Virgin is one of my favorite shows of all time, and Jaime plays my favorite character. I was... awkward... around him. And recording with Esme Bianco is a joy b/c she's such a lovely person, and her voice has a nice lilting quality that worked so well for her songs.

justlikebuddyholly5 karma

How much say does Daron have on your scores?

BrianHKim14 karma

Lots! We sit down for each episode and discuss what music the scenes need, and then I go home and write for a couple weeks, and then we meet again and discuss what is working or what isn't working, and then I go home and revise, and then she gives everything the final approval! So much of my storytelling in the show comes directly from Daron's ideas on the episode.

I feel so fortunate to have worked with her over the past 5 years. I feel like our visions for the show really clicked and as the show progressed, we developed a shorthand so our meetings would just fly by.

alloythepunny5 karma

Star Vs. wouldn't be complete without you! My only question is what piece have you written that didn't turn out the way you expected but was still awesome?

BrianHKim3 karma

This is a hard one! It's tough to remember all the revisions I went through...

I remember scoring the Rich Pigeon episode much more like a creepy, slowly-building horror movie, and it ended up just making the episode feel very plodding. So Daron wanted to play up the action elements more than the horror, and it came together much better.

wulterblack5 karma

What's your favorite Fall Out Boy song?

BrianHKim15 karma

I don't have a favorite but I think it's funny how there's a Fall Out Boy song for like every anime credits sequence that would totally work. Every time I hear "The Phoenix" I want to make an edit over the "Attack on Titan" opening credits because it would be AWESOME.

slurt_turgleson5 karma

Is there a longer mix of Save The Bounce Lounge and what went into composing it?

BrianHKim6 karma

Oh man I think the track is pretty long already! How long do you want it?! :)

Honestly I spent a really long time programming that snare drum. Just the right amount of noise and snap on it.

The rest of it came pretty easy b/c I have been writing dance music since I was in college, and my first job was interning for an electronic music house in NYC. So the hardest part of the cue was structuring it to the scene around it, b/c the speeds and emotions keep changing.

RobertoAguas4 karma

Hi Brian,

Did you attend Holy Cross and / or CBA in Syracuse?

I have a memory of being a student at Holy Cross and having you come from CBA to perform piano in front of the whole school (this would have been 20+ years ago). More specifically, I remember you mentioning you could hear songs on the radio then perform them by ear, which blew my young mind at the time.

Glad to see you've continued to develop your talents!

BrianHKim6 karma

I did go to CBA! So yeah this was me! That's so crazy!

Learning how to play songs off the radio was how I figured out the nuts and bolts of songs before I started writing my own (years later).

Still trying to be the best musician I can be, but it's a work in progress. :)

wrightentertainment4 karma

SVTFOE has one of the best cartoon themes I know. I assume you grew up with kind of the synth-y music?

Also, I have to ask, are you a dog person or a cat person?

BrianHKim9 karma

Yes so much synth music, especially in college. There was a year where all I listened to was M83.

I have had both dogs and cats and love both, though currently I just own a dog.

Bellaberry1303 karma

I am curious about your Korean background, if you don’t mind sharing.

Are/were your parents 1st-generation Korean immigrants? If so, what was your experience as a 2nd-gen Korean pursuing music, and how has the Korean side of your identity affected your music and career, if at all?

BrianHKim13 karma

I'm so glad you asked this! I think this past year has been really amazing for Asian-Americans in the entertainment industry, and I hope it serves as a jumping point for us moving forward.

My parents immigrated to North America in the 70s (my mom to Canada, my dad to the US -- my mom moved to the US later). My dad was a doctor and my mom was a nurse, so obviously I went to college to become a doctor. But I hated pre-med. So I studied computer science b/c I knew it was something they'd understand (Bill Gates is rich!), but I was terrible at it. So I decided to major in music toward the end of college, and my parents obviously were very concerned that I wouldn't get a career out of it. I became a teacher after college b/c it was the most obvious move for me, a young graduate who really didn't know what else to do. (Also teaching is awesome and I loved it.)

So when I decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue composition, my parents did NOT know what to make of it. And it took years of showing them the kind of work I do, and how it can build a living, and how I can, you know, pay my rent or buy food or own a car and generally not be poor. And when they started seeing my name in credits of shows and movies with actors they recognized on networks they knew, they grew less and less worried and more and more proud.

It's been a long journey, and I'm not entirely sure my parents really understand what I do, but I can say that they are very proud of me and happy that I am happy.

I am extremely aware that, the vast majority of the time, I am the only person of color in a meeting here in LA. That is becoming less and less a thing, but when I first moved out here, my race was one of the biggest mental hurdles to get over -- part of aspiring for something is looking up to role models, and how could I believe I could succeed here when the only successful Asian film composer I knew of (Tan Dun) wasn't even based in LA? And wasn't Asian-American? (There are obviously more successful Asian film composers than just Tan Dun, but I was pretty green back then and didn't know much.)

I think representation is so important, and the more we see Asian names in cast and crew lists, the more Asian people will try to work in entertainment and tell their stories, and the less of an EVENT it will be when a movie with an all-Asian cast is successful. It is my hope that if, god forbid, one of my kids wants to be in entertainment when he's older, the color of his skin won't even enter his mind, because he will have grown up seeing people like him on screen already.

IwalkedTheDinosaur3 karma

Which singer/celebrity do you dream of making a song with?

BrianHKim6 karma

Right now I am obsessed (OBSESSED) with Lizzo and if she called me asking to make a track together I would die.

Also BTS. Man would it be fun to work with BTS.

Adze953 karma

How did you get started? I have a diploma in music production and not sure where to go from here. I'm a bit stuck.

BrianHKim7 karma

Find me on Tumblr (brianwithanh) and send me an Ask. I've touched on this a little bit here in the AMA and also on Tumblr, but I have more thoughts that won't fit here, and I'll do my best to give you more advice!

xtremetoxicguy3 karma

Hey man love your work! As a music major myself, my question to you is what advice would you give aspiring composers when it comes to getting your name out there? Thanks!

BrianHKim8 karma

My main piece of advice is very open ended: write what you love. You'll enjoy the process more, and it'll show in the final product, and if you are writing what you love you are more likely to develop your own independent voice, and it's that unique voice that people are looking for.

And it's a constant struggle, honing this unique voice, and something that we should never feel, as creative people, that we have 100% figured out. Because then what's left to discover?

Khajo3 karma

Hi Brian! I'm an undergrad music student halfway through a percussion performance degree and I was thinking of trying composition and maybe even film scoring. My only real option for a comp teacher at school has been described as very unhelpful, and thinks his music is the greatest thing ever, but I was wondering what your advice would be on the best way to get into this?

BrianHKim7 karma

Find me on Tumblr (brianwithanh) and send me an Ask. I've touched on this a little bit here in the AMA and also on Tumblr, but I have more thoughts that won't fit here, and I'll do my best to give you more advice!

Dogsbottombottom3 karma

My wife is a composer, working on getting more work and building her reel. What advice would you give her as a female composer in the film industry?

BrianHKim8 karma

I feel like any advice I would give wouldn't be super useful, as I am not a woman, but I would point her to my friend Layla Minoui, who I went to school with and does the music for Disney's Vampirina. You can find Layla on Twitter (@laylaminoui) and I'm sure she'd love to hear from you and your wife!

ShinigamiLeaf3 karma

How do you get into a compositional flow? I'm currently studying composition at university but can't seem to write more than 1-2 hours a day. I feel like I should be writing more but can't find focus or inspiration after a couple hours :(

BrianHKim10 karma

I think it's really important when you're studying composition not only to study the actual tools of writing music, but also listening to yourself and understanding what kind of workflow best suits you. For example, there are some people who can sit at a desk for hours straight and never stop writing and their work is consistent throughout, but that's not me. I like to keep really strict schedules and treat writing music like I would treat a job, where I start and stop at specific times of day, take breaks when I need to, etc.

Creating stuff on your own can seem really boundless and shapeless at times, and some of us need to give it boundaries to make it work!

So if you are having trouble working for more than 1-2 hours at a time, maybe work like 1 hour, then take 15 minute break doing something fun and energizing, and then come back again and try to do another hour? Or maybe just work in shorter spurts? But it's really important not to beat yourself up for working short periods of time. You just need to find what works for you!

Rex_Ivan3 karma

Hi, and thanks for your stellar work.

My question is about the background music playing sometimes when Pony Head starts to do something particularly Ponyhead-ish. I heard it mainly in season one, but it showed up again later too, although not as often. For whatever reason, it reminded me of the opening theme of the movie "The Neverending Story." Was that intentional, or am I just jumping to conclusions there?

BrianHKim6 karma

100% intentional. We just thought it would be funny if a character like Pony Head (who looks super magical but does NOT act magical) could have this super magical, super happy sounding music. Good ears!

Bexar19862 karma

You obviously had to know about what was going to happen in the show long before perhaps even the actors. How did you figure out how you wanted to go about making the music for certain scenarios?

What was your favorite track to make? My personal favorite is when they're hanging on to not go into the portal in Bonbon the birthday clown.

BTW I can't imagine the show without your music, it's some of the best I've ever heard, on any show hands down.

BrianHKim2 karma


I'm one of the last people to know what happens! Actors know much, much earlier than I do. I score the episodes when they're pretty much finished.

Right now I'm really proud of the last 3-4 minutes of the series finale.

WelshBOC2 karma

Hello! Your work on SvtFoE was awesome. My personal favourite piece was the one that plays at the end of"Running with Scissors". Beautiful.

I have a few questions:

1) Do you primarily use soft synths or hardware synths?

2) How many versions/drafts of a piece did you make before finally settling on one? Did some pieces click faster than others?

3) Primary influences for the SvtFoE outside of Sailor Moon and other anime?

BrianHKim3 karma

1) Primarily soft synths, b/c they are faster to work with and revise. But I have a few hardware synths that I love.

2) I usually only have time to do 1 or 2 versions of a cue for SVTFOE, but sometimes I'll get to 4 or 5 versions if it's not clicking for me, or if Daron needs a bunch of tweaks.

3) Buffy. Lost.

DanySVTFOE2 karma

Hello Brian! I am Daniela from Italy and I am a huge SVTFOE fan. First of all, I would like to thank you for the amazing soundtrack... Blood moon ball has been my favourite piece of music until yesterday. Now I would say that the tracklist from Cleaved is my top favourite, I must already have listened to it a thousand times! It's just so satisfying!

Here are my questions: 1) How much time does it take to compose the tunes for one episode? 2) How and where did you get your inspiration for characters and couples' main themes? (And what inspires you in general?) 3) What's the episode you enjoyed working on the most? 4) When did you realize that you wanted to be a musician?

BrianHKim3 karma

1) I got 1-2 weeks per episode. I preferred to spread the work out over that time, but sometimes I would have to do a whole episode in 3 days due to scheduling conflicts. Those were always a tough 3 days. :)

2) It's always about the emotions! Is the character a more heartfelt character? A hopeful one? A sneaky one? What potential emotions are coming for the character in the future?

3) The big ones! Season finales are always great.

4) I started playing piano when I was very little, but I don't think I decided I wanted to be a professional musician until I was... 25? 26? Somewhere in there. It took me a while.

veronicabunch2 karma

Favourite Abby's character? Piece you've done for the show?

BrianHKim5 karma

I feel like the entire cast is full of characters that I'd love to hang out with, but I think Abby in particular is a really special TV character for so many reasons. I want to know her whole life story, and I feel like she'd be an amazing person to have in your corner.

I had a blast writing the songs that Rosie's band plays. "Plays." Writing music that purposefully sounds terrible is surprisingly difficult, though.

BurgerPleaseYT2 karma

What's your favorite burger joint?

BrianHKim3 karma

Currently, The Oinkster in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles CA. It is both terrific and down the street from where I live. Unbeatable combo.

Talarin202 karma

Would you ever compose for Warhammer?

BrianHKim3 karma


1PieGuy2 karma

What's Brad Breeck like? Is he cool?

BrianHKim3 karma

Brad Breeck is super chill and nice. I got to hang out with him a couple weeks ago, because I'm building a new studio and really liked the pics of his studio that I saw on Instagram, and he was nice enough to take time out of his day to show me around and talk shop. Definitely looking forward to hanging out again.

OneMoreAmber2 karma

A question slightly unrelated to music-but do you have any anime/cartoon suggestions? Maybe ones that have AWESOME music, or ones that have a great plot?

BrianHKim3 karma


My favorite anime of all time.

Incredible music and visuals. And an amazing story about the concept of "talent," one that transcends sports and is relatable to any creative activity.

kzero02 karma

As a late bandwagon SvTFoE fan, wish I found it a few years sooner but hey not complaining, I'm so glad that I caught on this show (and your Tumblr) before it ended. Love your work, thank you for making an awesome show super amazing! Scenes like Star's Decision, Star's Tree of Hope, Running to the Portal (just to name a few) are just so damn incredible, the score just hits home, it's so powerful I get goosebumps EVERY SINGLE TIME. I would like to say that it's super generous of you to post your work online in addition to sharing your thought process and a bit of insight to the creation of the show. So cool. Thank you so much! My playlist for the past month has all been playing SvTFoE OST.


If you're willing to share, what's something "clever" that you've created in hopes that somebody would pick up on but nobody has mentioned yet? Or something that has a lot more (backstory?) than what meets the eyes (or ears :P)?

BrianHKim3 karma

Thanks for the kind words!!

Hmmm... something "clever"... well in the series finale there's a cue where I start a phrase with Eclipsa's theme and then I finish the phrase with Moon's theme and I was surprised that it worked... but I don't know how clever that is. :) The SVTFOE community is pretty active in their listening and they seem to pick up most things I drop in there.

I've mentioned this in other places or panels, but all the elevator/convenience store music in SVTFOE is basically the same, because I thought it'd be really funny if like every dimension got their hold music from one monopolistic source.

Galveira2 karma

Do you hate the "men" thing from Two And a Half Men as much as we do?

BrianHKim3 karma

I don't! It's really hard to come up with something instantly iconic, and while that cue might not be everyone's cup of tea, you know EXACTLY where it comes from when you hear it, and that can't be said about a lot of TV music.

KiNgOfSpEEdOJaCK1 karma

Will be there season, movie, comics or any continuation to Star vs the forces of evil?

Does Janna wake up at the end?

What Marco and Star did after looking at each other for too long?

Did Hekapoo die?

Did Father Time die?

Did Grossy really die?

Is there a way to retrieve the magic again?

I have became a fan of this show so quickly in a relatively short amount of time since season 4 started airing, I really hope you continue it, it has been a great wild and weird journey and I hope there's even more weirder journeys to this!

EDIT: Oops, it seems that most of these questions are not in your area of working ):

Just want to say that I extremely liked "We belong together" OST, it's only the scene I watched in shows that affects me emotionally and still gets me after watching it million time largely because of the music, "Running to Portal" OST was amazing too. Basically, all music in Cleaved was just amazing. Thank you for being a large part of what made this show.

So here's these questions:

How much time until you figured to do "We belong together" and "Running to portal" OST perfectly?

What was your favorite music you ever made in this show?

Do you remember all OSTs?

What's your most disliked one?

BrianHKim2 karma

Hi! Sorry I can't answer all the plot stuff!

Some of your questions I answered in previous questions, but as for your other questions:

Time for "End of Magic" and "Running to the Portal" OSTs: I think I wrote these over the course of two days, but I wrote them early in the process and went back to them a lot to tweak them, because I knew how important they were. So I probably worked on them for like 5 days total?

I think I wrote like 20-21 hours of music total for the show, but I wrote every single cue for the show (I don't work with an assistant), so I'd like to think I'd remember every cue. But you'd have to test me to find out for sure. :)

Disliked cue? I like all the cues! I wouldn't have made them if I didn't think they worked!