Thomas and Friends: All Engines Go! is a new animated series that debuted in September. Appearing on Cartoon Network, the show reinvents the beloved children’s show, which initially appeared in a live-action format, with the trains of Sodor teaching young viewers the value of teamwork. Erica Procunier is a composer on the series and recently took time out to discuss her career and work.
Tell us about your background?
“I am a composer for screen based in Toronto, Canada. I’ve recently worked on projects here in Canada for the CBC and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. I’ve had films in the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as projects on AppleTV+, YouTube Originals, HBO Max, and now Netflix!. I was super fortunate to be nominated at the Daytime Emmys this year for my work on AppleTV+’s Ghostwriter.
How did you get involved with the new, animated Thomas and Friends?
“I’ve worked in the past with the wonderful team at Nelvana on a theme for the show The Remarkable Mr. King - the studio responsible for the animation on Thomas and Friends - and I was very excited that they brought me in to demo on this project.”
What where the show’s musical needs?
“With this show being a complete re-imagining of the world of Thomas and Friends, with the core group of characters becoming younger trains, it was really important to approach the score with a fresh take on the world. It was also so important to me that we maintain the charm and personality of these well-known characters. I have a whole set of brand new themes, and it was important to be approaching the pacing a bit differently as well, since it’s now a cartoon. I grew up watching this show as a child, so it’s super interesting to me to see aspects of their characters that are the same, but also how they’ve grown - or in this case, [gotten] younger!”
What gear did you use?
“I’m working in Digital Performer from MOTU, and have set up a large orchestral template. I’m really going after a classic adventure sound with all the instruments of a traditional orchestra. I get to play with rhythm as it relates to trains on the tracks. I have thrown in a couple of other sounds as well, specifically the character of Kana gets a bit more of a synthetic feel because she’s an electric train and really charged up.”
What were some of the interesting or unique challenges on this project?
“Some unique challenges are specifically, combining the new character themes, such as Kana’s electric sound, into the orchestral palette. Also, there are some fantastic tunes written by some amazing songwriters in the show! It’s been a real treat to integrate those in with the score at times. Sometimes the characters are using their train whistles as instruments, and on this show, it’s very important to get the right sound from their whistles, so I very carefully turned their whistle sounds into musical instruments.”
Where can we follow you online?
“My website is ericaprocunier.com, and you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @erica_pro.”