Theme Park Insanity officially interview the attractions industry's leading music producer IMAscore!
Known for creating some of the most memorable and unique ride and attractions scores in recent years, this Germany based industry leader in themed audio and music has really dominated the theme park and attractions industry when it comes to creating the sound of some of the biggest rides and attractions out there, however how did the company begin?
Who are IMAscore and what has helped them to become the industry leaders they are today?
Here at Theme Park Insanity we are huge fans of their work and that’s why we felt truly honoured when after having reached out to put these questions to them IMAscore replied and advised us that they would be more than happy to answer our questions and help shed some light on what has helped them to progress to where they are today.
Over the years IMAscore have worked with absolutely massive clients including the likes of Disney, Merlin Entertainments and many other household names to help them bring their rides, attractions and even movies to life!
We are therefore thrilled to provide this unique insight into what drives IMAscore to create the music they do and what has helped them to become the company they are today;
Who are IMAscore and how did the company evolve over time from it's origins to the leading music producer it is today?
IMAscore is a team of twelve creatives, most of them composers.
We started as a team of three in our private rooms and evolved to a company offering its services to clients from all over the world.
That was possible by slow but steady growth and above all by getting a great and talented bunch of people together.
We don’t work with freelancers when it comes to custom productions. We are a team and as a team we’re working at one spot. There are many lone riders out there and it’s also an absolutely practical way of working, but we decided in an early stage of our company that we want to be a physical present team our clients can rely on and our clients can visit if they like to in our studio.
We think this philosophy and our love for the leisure industry made us who we are today. .
Please could you tell us more about what IMAscore offer their clients and how you fit into the wider theme park and attractions industry in terms of the product you offer?
IMAscore composes and produces music of all styles and moods for the leisure industry and beyond.
We’re not limited to this industry, as we also produce a lot of music for cinematic trailers like The Lion King, Aladdin or the Marvel movies for example, but there’s personal history that made us work for theme parks and attractions.
My founder colleagues, composers and brothers Sebastian and Andreas Kübler and I have visited theme parks all over Europe together in the past, long before the company IMAscore even started.
We loved going on roller coasters, but always thought those often not more than 3-minute audio loops aren’t the right way to musically cover an experience. Therefore, we slowly started to make our way into the industry with unsolicited demos we’d send out to potential clients.
The first ones have been rejected, but the one for Heide Park Resort’s then upcoming roller coaster Krake finally drew attention from the right people. The rest is history.
Our music is now an essential part of many attractions all over the world and we as a team can offer services many freelance composers can’t like producing many hours of music within a relatively short period of time.
One can hardly do that alone, but it’s also all about understanding the business, understanding how theme parks and their creatives work and also what airtime feels like – because you can’t write music for a roller coaster, if you don’t dare to ride one and do understand what the experience is all about.
That’s at least what we think and what our philosophy is when adding new creatives to our team..
Once a client request has been agreed and finalised in short how does the process work from concept through to the finished product?
We usually receive a written briefing and maybe some artworks before we start.
Then we write a 1-2-minute style demo to get on the right track in terms of style and mood. It may also already include a first idea of the main motif.
Sometimes it’s a one shot and the first gets approved, so we can go ahead with expanding it to the full length, but more often it needs some adjustments before the music sounds like the one the client already had in his head all the time, sometimes without even knowing it.
It’s absolutely understandable that our clients can’t give us exact musical directions, as they aren’t musicians.
It’s our job to create something unique with our musical and technical expertise, which matches everyone’s expectations.
There are endless ways how that can be achieved, but it will only be one idea that makes it in the end. .
Where do your client requests mainly originate and how have they evolved or changed over the years?
They come from many creatives from all over the world, who are always able to surprise and challenge us, and yes, the requests have evolved a lot because theme park music became way more important.
It’s now an essential part of the experience and having an individual soundtrack is an understatement.
That’s not only a good thing for us as a company, but also for other composers out there.
It’s great to see how important music has become, because it’s really a great way of theming an attraction.
Atmospheric but still catchy music combined with a sound ambience can really change the feeling of an area and work as acoustic theming.
The better understanding of this effect lead to creatives coming up or being open for many very creative ideas how to make music interact with the guests.
We’re excited to see where this all will lead in the future, but we’re sure there’s a lot more in coming, creatively and technically.
It's no secret that IMAscore are recognised as one of the main leading providers of thematic scores when it comes to theme parks and attractions across the world! Who would you therefore say you have enjoyed working with the most and why?
It’s impossible to choose one park or one individual from the ones we’ve had the pleasure to work with over the last ten years.
The leisure industry is a fantastic area to work in and we’re proud of every single project and made a lot of friends among our clients.
We create something very personal and therefore talk on a very personal level with theme park managers, creatives and music supervisors.
We honour that by being reliable, discreet and as fair and forthcoming as possible.
It's fair to say that the ride score you composed and produced for the Smiler at Alton Towers certainly presents as one of your most unique ride scores to date. Please could you therefore tell us a little more about how the music was inspired and what lead to the creation of the iconic music we hear today?
The creation of The Smiler’s soundtrack was very challenging.
Not only because it was clear from the very beginning that this will be an absolutely outstanding ride experience, but because of the hard to achieve goals that have been set also musically.
The music should be annoying, while being iconic at the same time.
We had no idea how to achieve that in the first place, however as always, we started to put some notes together, searched for melodies and tried to open up our minds for some really crazy ideas.
Our first demos have still been quite epic and diverse, but that wasn’t the direction the creatives at Merlin wanted to go.
They really needed to convince us to create music that disturbs the guests, not only by sounding dangerous or scary, but in a strange psychological way.
Their description of the attraction as an industrial assembly line of fun was the moment when we got it.
Suddenly it all fell in place. It needed this simple nursery rhyme melody, the ongoing unstoppable beat and the Ha-Ha choir – recording that was a lot of fun by the way, and our composer Sebastian always loves the moment when he laughs at the guests in crazy manner before the train goes up the second lift.
Who would you say is the most unique client you have had to work with to date and why?
We’ve certainly had some unique projects, like the already mentioned The Smiler, or Kärnan at Hansa-Park.
Projects with crazy ride systems or layouts, themes or styles.
Helix at Liseberg is another one we always like to mention, because it’s very futuristic but minimalistic theming combination with epic electronic music lead to a very individual and unique experience.
It’s always great to be allowed to do something totally different and it’s always worth to think outside the box.
Please could you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind the unique sounds of 'island like no other' - Thorpe Park Resort and how the creative direction behind the resort's overall musical feel was achieved?
The idea was to build a bridge between the radio music playing on site for many years and the idea of creating an overarching soundtrack, which should give the park an own musical identity.
Therefore, the music of some zones (particularly the entrance area) has an electronic influence to be upbeat and uplifting.
It also introduces the park’s new main motif, which can be heard in the music of the other areas in different forms as well.
It was our biggest project up to then with quite a lot of music for many big theme areas.
That was a challenge in terms of amount of music, but also because the main motif needed to be something that not only works today, but also in ten years in the best case.
Have there been any client briefs over the years which have proved particularly difficult to meet and what were the reasons behind this?
The Smiler was definitely one of them as mentioned before. Not because anyone did something wrong when setting it up, but because it was actually a new musical genre that needed to be created.
Besides that we also like to mention Chiapas at Phantasialand. A soundtrack for a Mexican theme area without using the typical mariachi trumpets, recorded with a live orchestra – that was for sure something we would have never expected to do.
We’re still very happy how it turned out in the end and what a fantastic overall experience Phantasialand created.
Are there any exciting future projects in the works at present which you are able to tell us a little more about?
We need to keep those strictly secret unfortunately, but we very recently announced our participation on the new indoor theme park Dream Island in Moscow, Russia.
This was a gigantic project with a total of seven hours of music, including IPs like Smurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Hello Kitty.
It was fun and challenging at the same time.
It was also our very first project for a Russian theme park and it’s always great to know that your music is running in another country and entertaining people in a new part of the world.
The team was great to work with and we can’t wait to show some of the music that we did!
We already announced that we produced a soundtrack for Kings island’s new giga coaster Orion.
That’s also one we can’t wait to share with everyone!
Working for US parks was definitely a dream come true and we hope to do more often in the future..
When someone makes a request for a piece to be written and produced what are the standard requirements they must fulfil prior to the project proceeding and how do these influence the end product?
We only work for commercial clients/projects, just because we don’t have the time and capacities for private inquiries, no matter how dedicated they might be and how much we appreciate creative effort.
We’re still a company with people making a living out of it.
The next step can be everything.
A phone call, a written briefing, a personal meeting.
It all leads to music in the end and there are many ways of starting the process. .
Here at Theme Park Insanity we are huge fans of the amazing creativity you continue to show as a company when it comes to creating the music you do! Who would you therefore say are the main creative minds behind the music or does this tend to differ depending on the request?
Thank you so much for your kind words!
It absolutely depends on the project and style of music.
Andreas Kübler, Sebastian Kübler, Florian Wunsch, Eric Krause, Adrian Gucze, Apollon de Moura, Jascha Heidicke and also our part time graphic designer/part time composer Oliver Berens all produced music that none of the others could have done this way.
They complement each other very well and IMAscore wouldn’t be the same without them..
Finally It's fair to say that IMAscore really do continue to go from strength to strength as the years pass by, therefore where do you see the company heading in the years to come and how will this influence the direction taken by IMAscore if at all?
We’re pushing our production music library a lot at the moment, where we offer music mainly for the TV and advertising industry with our publishing partner 5 Alarm Music from Los Angeles.
It’s an important next step for us as a company to be a rights administrator and build a business besides the custom work.
Still, creating music individually for our clients and especially for the leisure industry will always be an important part of our creative endeavours.
Like I said, we have friends there and we want that to stay like that and be a part of all those fantastic projects.
Besides that we’re really keen on doing more for the games industry.
We’re making another step at the moment with the creation of the soundtrack for the indie game Aron’s Adventure.
We’re excited to see what the future will bring!
We would like to offer huge thanks once again to the amazing guys over at IMAscore for agreeing to offer this fantastic and highly exclusive insight into what makes them the company they are today and we feel deeply honoured to have been able to share this with you all!
If you enjoyed this then please use the comments below to let us know and also which piece of IMAscore music stands out as your favourite?
It’s safe to say that we can’t wait to see what the future holds for this amazing company and we’re sure they will continue to move and astound us with their unique creations in the years to come!