When Mychael and I ventured to Pixar Animation Studios to learn about a new project from director Dan Scanlon, we were astonished by the film that he revealed. Weirdly and uncannily personal for us: a magical yarn about an accountant father who dies when his two sons are young, and how the relationship of the brothers is affected by this. As a composer, you have to understand and empathize with the emotions of the characters and as brothers who had a similar life-story, there was no problem accessing all the personal emotions we needed for this one!
To elevate the fantasy and magical aspects of the story we turned to folk and early music instruments, including an array of unusual guitars, psaltery, crumhorn, viola da gamba and some instruments that we sort of invented for this film! Our tendency to take those kind of things that are a bit unconventional and then mix them with a large symphony orchestra really worked for Onward. The other cornerstone-task of the score was to be sure that we had heartfelt and memorable themes that would bring the brothers emotional journey straight to the heart of the audience.