Former Black Eyed Peas Band Members Transcend the Tour Bus To Become TV’s Hottest Composing Team
There was a time when the term "composer"' conjured up visions of some stately old gent commanding a massive orchestra with a baton. Fast forward to the present: technology has now made it possible to achieve the full sonic clout of an eighty-piece orchestra in a broom closet and a new breed of artisans -- including such big-budget composers as Danny Elfman and Trevor Rabin -- may be as likely to own a Stratocaster as a Steinway.
Mike Fratantuno, Terence Yoshiaki and Brian Lapin, three former founding members of the Black Eyed Peas band, have joined forces to formally launch themselves as Transcenders, a boutique music house specializing in film, television and commercial scoring. The Hollywood-based Transcenders are the series and main title composers for CW's new teen drama Gossip Girl, a music-heavy show with music supervision by Alexandra Patsavas. They previously created songs for Judd Apatow's Superbad and Knocked Up, the SenArt film Bonneville, and Chris Rock's I Think I Love My Wife. They composed the score for the Lionsgate/Element feature film College and the Universal/Beacon Pictures' DVD feature Bring It on: All Or Nothing, and additional scored music for Universal Pictures The 40 Year Old Virgin. They are the proud recipients of BMI Composer Awards for their work as episodic composers on the NBC sitcom Joey.
“If you’re a musician it’s very possible to make a transition from being on the road to composing,” notes attorney, Helen Yu of Yu Leseberg, who has helped the Transcenders make the transition from touring band members to successful composers. “People who had been in bands get tired of the traveling and touring lifestyle and want to find a bridge. They often ask, ‘How do I stay home, but how do I do what I love?’ Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo, Stewart Copeland from The Police and Jonathan Davis of Korn are all excellent examples of musicians who have succeeded in visual mediums.” It was natural for Transcenders to take their success with Black Eyed Peas and parlay it into a new career. It wasn’t automatic, but the Transcenders had the skills, name and acknowledgement to make it happen.”
Helen, who negotiates the Transcenders contracts and is involved with North Hudson Music, a publishing company that administers the trio’s music interests, recommends that musicians who are considering making the leap to scoring hone not just their musical skills, but their social skills.
To make the transition from songwriter and band member to composer, Helen recommends the following:
1) “It’s about meeting a whole new brand of people who are not in the music business. With the Transcenders, I advised them to get to know music supervisors, agents, and heads of music in film and television, and to build their reputations.”
2) There is also a shift in creative approach when one makes the change from the pop world to visual media. “When scoring to picture, you’re not writing songs; you have ten seconds to invoke emotions and feelings in the viewer”. In film, the focus shifts from holding the listeners attention for three minutes with a pop song, to supplementing and supporting the images on the screen and the emotions they convey.
3) Finally, there are significant technical requirements as well, Yu observes. “When you’re a composer, the studio or network is expecting you to deliver a final product. You’re the musician, the producer, the engineer and the mixer. You have to be able to do all of those jobs and it’s a different set of challenges.”
“It was natural for Transcenders to take their success with Black Eyed Peas and parlay it into a new career,” concludes Yu. “It wasn’t automatic, but the Transcenders had the skills, name, and acknowledgement to make it happen.”
In addition to years spent touring with the Black Eyed Peas (BEP), the three members of Transcenders are significant songwriters. Lapin co-wrote BEPs first single “Joints & Jam” in 1998. Fratantuno co-wrote both the 2001 MTV favorite “Request Line” featuring Macy Gray, and the Number One hit “Where Is The Love” featuring Justin Timberlake. Fratantuno and Yoshiaki also co-wrote the Grammy-winning Top 10 hit single “Lets Get It Started” with BEP, which earned them both 2004 Grammy nominations in the category of Best Rap Song. “Lets Get It Started” was also nominated for Record Of The Year.