LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Quirky musical TV comedy “Glee” returned to Fox this week after four months off-air with nine new episodes, including a highly-anticipated program featuring the show’s unique twist on the hits of Madonna.
Since taking a break in December, “Glee” has picked up Golden Globe, People’s Choice and Screen Actors Guild awards for best TV comedy, and saw its remakes of songs top music charts in Australia, the UK, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada.
Reuters spoke to “Glee” music producer Adam Anders — a Hollywood-based, Swedish-born songwriter and bass player — about how he creates the mash-ups and original cover versions of songs for the TV series.
Anders, 34, said he had 20 songs in production for the remaining nine episodes of season one, including 10 for the Madonna episode alone, which airs on April 20.
Q: How did you get this job?
A: “I am Swedish, so pop music is in my blood. I grew up with Abba. ‘Dancing Queen’ was playing in the delivery room! I started as a bass player, studied jazz, did a lot of session work and went on to producing and songwriting and had big hit with “More than That” for the Backstreet Boys. I had done about five or six theme songs for different Fox shows. They suggested me to (“Glee” creator) Ryan Murphy. He asked me to take a stab at a cover version of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” on a Friday, and have it ready by the Sunday.”
Q: What’s the process of arranging and recording the music for “Glee”?
A: “They write the script. Ryan pretty much picks all the songs. He’ll go ‘here’s a list for this episode, here’s the script, have fun!’”
Q; How much time do you have to create the arrangements, especially the mash-ups?
A: “Not enough! You are working on a TV production schedule which is totally insane. (In January) I had over 20 songs in production at the same time. There are times the cast haven’t even heard what they are doing when they come to me ... I do mock-ups with ‘stunt doubles’ and studio singers that represent each cast member. So by the time the cast comes in, they listen to it a few times and then record it.”
Q: What can you tell us about the Madonna episode?
A: “There are 10-11 Madonna titles. Even if they only use 10 seconds of the song, I still have to cut the whole thing ... On ‘Like a Virgin’, we have six different people singing the lead, so finding a key that works for six guys and girls was not the easiest thing in the world ... Ryan is the biggest Madonna fan ever, so this is a dream of his. It is going to be an amazing episode.”
Q: How challenging is it creating mash-ups of songs that you would never think of as having a relationship?
A: “I started to think Ryan was (messing) with me at first because of some of the things he wanted to mash together — like ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ with the rap ‘Busta Move’. But it’s really rewarding when you make it work. You are creating a whole new piece of work. I get bored easily, but I never get bored on ‘Glee’.”
Q: Is it true that there are plans to introduce some original music into “Glee”?
A: “There definitely will be at least one original song in the episodes this spring. ‘Glee’ is about reinventing classics that everyone knows and loves. But I think it will be a nice twist to start sprinkling in some original music. It will be interesting to see how that works, and how much more we do.”
Q: Which of your skills has served you best on “Glee”?
A: “I have never been a one-trick pony. I have done everything from Sheryl Crow to ‘High School Musical’ and classical. So that has served me well with ‘Glee’ because I am doing pop, Broadway, country. It’s all over the map. But it’s not just a one-man job. I have a team of 8-15 people.”
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Patricia Reaney