By Justin RouillonThursday 21 Jan 202196five Afternoons
“I don’t know how well I’m known…I’m definitely no Hans Zimmer” laughs Bluey composer Joff Bush when I ask him about being propelled into the limelight through the runaway hit TV show.
The Brisbane based show about a family of talking dogs from Red Hill has won hearts of kids (and big kids) the world over, broken all manner of records for the number of downloads on the ABC’s streaming platform iview, and caused hardened TV critics to weep over episodes like Sleepytime.
The show follows the play based adventures of the Heeler family – Bandit, Chilli, Bluey and Bingo, with one of the most loved elements of the program being the music. Can you really imagine Janet and Rita getting around in the Granny-mobile without that 1920’s inspired number?
Joff caught the composition bug in high school, with his then piano teacher Ken McLean an accomplished screen composer. But it wasn’t until his time at the Queensland Conservatorium that Joff really leapt into the world of writing for film.
“I really wanted to be a jazz or concert pianist so I was studying piano at ‘the Con’. I was probably the worst in that year at piano, I don’t know how I got in! But my lecturer said to me ‘you’re really writing all the time and hanging out with film students, maybe you’re doing the wrong course’.
When I switched to composition I never looked back, and one of the people that I did student films with was Daley Pearson who is now one of the owners of Ludo Studios who make Bluey.”
Putting the music together for Bluey is no small feat which involves working on multiple episodes at once, and delivering one episode per week.
“Every week we have a spotting session, which is where we watch an episode without music, and we look for the spots where the music is going to go. We talk about what’s going to happen in those spots; all the key creatives for Bluey will be in the room and we’ll throw a whole lot of ideas around and a lot of those ideas end up in the bin!”
And after over 100 episodes of Bluey, Joff is clearly excited about finally having an album available for fans to enjoy.
“I’ve really been wanting to get this out for a long time. With the album we’ve been able to take the 20 second grab that might end up in the TV show, and turn it into the track that we always wanted it to be. We could bring in string or horn sections, and lots of Brisbane musicians appear on the album. I’m an absolute perfectionist so it’s been a lot of tweaking and creating these big extended versions that we always wished we could have done.”
One episode of Bluey that is loved by so many, including creator Joe Brumm, who told 96five back in 2019 that it was his favourite Brisbane location to recreate, is The Creek; where Bluey discovers that after some initial hesitance that the creek is beautiful. I ask where the inspiration for the music for that episode comes from, because the soundtrack just perfectly encapsulates the scene of a childhood spent mucking around down the creek.
“I love The Creek episode, and the thing that I really loved was that it was a collaborative effort across the entire Bluey music team. For the album Helena Czajka, who was one of the main composers on The Creek has gone and written some beautiful lyrics, and then we added some string arrangements, putting it all together in the studio here. I think that ‘I Know A Place (The Creek Song)’ is going to be something really special when it comes out.”
Bluey: The Album is out now on all major streaming platforms. You can also purchase a physical copy on CD at JB Hi Fi, Sanity and Big W.
You can binge watch Bluey to your hearts content on ABC iview.