How Networking Led Composer Mark Evitts to Scoring Apple TV’s ‘Frog and Toad’
Posted on: Aug 31, 2023
Mark Evitts is an accomplished American composer, songwriter, musician and producer working across the television, film and music industries. Most recently, Mark served as composer and songwriter for the new Apple TV+ animated series Frog and Toad, based on the best-selling children’s book, for which his work was submitted for an Emmy. His songwriting credits include co-writing Nas’ single “Brunch on Sundays,” which he also performed on, from the Grammy-nominated album King’s Disease II and The Game’s single “Violence”.
How do you feel about the music you composed for your Emmy submission on the show Frog and Toad?
I really like it a lot. It’s a good representation of the work that I do. The story is so beautiful and the story is so good and such a classic story that it was just an honor to even work on it.
How did that come about, you getting to do the music for the show?
I live in Nashville, Tennessee, where I was touring as someone who played the fiddle, guitar, mandolin, a bunch of stuff. I did that for years and decided I wanted to get into scoring. I started reaching out to different composers in LA. One of the guys I reached out to is a guy named Alex Geringas. He’s a children’s animation composer. I really liked his work, [which] I [initially] heard online. I sent him an email and said, “Hey, you don’t know me. My name is Mark Evitts and I would love to meet you. I’m trying to meet more composers in LA.”
He’s like, “Swing by the studio sometime.” I asked, “When?” He replied, “How about next Thursday?” I said, “Okay, sure.” So I booked a flight and flew out to LA. He showed me this film that he was working on. He’s like, “Could you help me with this? This part of the fiddle, these country instruments?” I said absolutely. He sent me a bunch of cues and I did it. He loved it. It made it into the film and I got to work with him. After that he approached me and said, “Hey, I’ve got somebody I want you to meet over at Apple.” I met this guy Frank Garcia over at Apple and he gave me the brief for Frog and Toad.
What was your process like for scoring it?
We had this beautiful story of how he [Frank Garcia] and I wound up being in New Orleans on the same day we were exchanging emails about the project. We wound up meeting up and spending the day together creating music for the show, New Orleans was the perfect atmosphere and it really was kismet we both happened to be there at the same time. Ultimately we took a singular-instrument approach, not a huge orchestral thing, more of a singular instrument vibe.
There was an energy between us working together, but there was also just this happy feeling. I was like, “This show is a happy, beautiful show. How can we make it sound like what we envisioned?” It took a few tries, but once it was off and running, I felt like we had a really good thing going. It was this beautiful collaboration, co-writing, and working together. Because that is the story of Frog and Toad. It’s two friends that are different that work together. So I think that if I’m going all meta with it, I feel like that was sort of the same vibe with the music.
Was there a particular scene that stood out to you to score?
There were several that stood out. I will say this. The cast was so incredible and unbelievably talented. I had written a song called “Ice Cream.” I was producing the vocals on it. Now, this is my first show [as] lead composer. I’m sitting in the studio and I’ve got Zoom open and it’s everybody. I see everybody that I’m working with and I’m looking at them going, “These are really important people and people that are really good at their jobs.”
Did you have imposter syndrome?
Yeah. We’re doing this song that I had written and I demoed all the vocals. I sang it, and then they would bring the cast in to re-sing the parts. So one was a banjo playing mink voiced by a guy named Tom Kenny. Tom Kenny is the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants. I’ve got Tom Kenny singing my song back to me. It was one of those moments where I was like, “Pinch me.” He was so good. I was supposed to produce him, but I’m like, “Well, what do I do? Tell you you’re great? Go, do it again.” That was almost every experience.
The animators did [the whole show] so musically and so beautifully, the way they animated the characters made it so fun to score. I’m creating the drums and the bass, this jazzy brush drum set with a walking bass as Frog is walking. I’m playing banjo to it and I’m thinking, “Man, this is all so good.” These guys have done such a good job that it feels like a true collaboration.
Any advice you’d give to someone who wants to be a composer?
Absolutely. Get to know people and then, be ready. I have spent so much time outside of the studio calling up people like Alex Geringas, flying to Los Angeles. But then when I was there, I was prepared. I had done the hard work ahead of time because I’ve always heard preparation plus opportunity equals success.
I was prepared for that opportunity and then it led to something that was successful. I was my authentic self and it worked. When the opportunity came it worked out to what I think is a beautiful show. I’ve co-written on Grammy-nominated albums and I’ve had this amazing career. I do not take any of that lightly. I am so honored to be with the people that I’ve been able to be with.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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