Inside the Music with Frozen 2 Composer Robert Lopez

Interview with Frozen 2 omposer Robert Lopez

Songwriting phenomenon Robert Lopez is the youngest-ever EGOT winner (that is, someone who has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award) and is the only person to have done so twice over. Best known for his work on the soundtrack to 2013's Frozen alongside his songwriting partner and wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the duo also penned the music for the hugely successful sequel Frozen 2 (now the highest-grossing animated movie ever), as well as the Oscar-winning "Remember Me" from Coco.

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Bobby to discuss the dynamics of working as a married songwriting duo, the writing process involved, and the challenges behind following up a worldwide smash.

Download the official composer-approved sheet music for Disney’s Frozen 2

Interview with Frozen 2 composer Robert Lopez

Sheet Music Direct ("S"): You've clearly formed a formidable songwriting team with your wife [Kristen Anderson-Lopez]. What came first, your relationship or your songwriting partnership? How has one influenced the other?

Robert Lopez ("R"): We met and started dating when we were both in the BMI Musical Theater Writing Workshop. (The night we met was the very first public presentation of songs from Avenue Q!) Our relationship and our kids will always take first priority, but as we have grown as a couple, we've learned to really enjoy the process of writing together and have a lot of fun doing it. There's nothing better than having your job be like a musical play date with your very best friend.

S: You both have experience in writing for a variety of mediums – of course, Robert, you recently became the first-ever person to achieve Double EGOT status. Can you tell us about how your approach to writing varies from big screen to TV to stage?

R: We always go from story first. That never changes, no matter the medium. And honestly, telling a compelling and fresh story is always the most difficult part to get right. It's a lot of constant collaboration between us and our various partners, who deserve a lot of the credit for whatever power our songs have. In terms of different media — we really do love them all, but that doesn't make us experts on them. It is always fun to treat our projects as learning opportunities. No one knows everything — but it's fun to keep learning every day. As far as awards, that's always the last priority — but always a lot of fun to get dressed up and meet stars.

S: When you write together, do the lyrics or music come first generally?

R: As I said, we begin with story, which takes constant, often daily collaboration with our partners. We never start to talk about songs until we are fully understanding and feeling the story and are excited by the possibilities for a song moment. When that happens, Kristen and I split off from the group and continue to talk about what the song will be. We usually have a title or a hook. And then we keep talking until one of us is inspired enough to start something — be it vamp, melody, lyrics, or everything at once. Every song starts in the way it needs to. After that we usually make a demo, during which we put the finishing touches on whatever arrangement we create. We always sing and play our own demos — we both love performing.

S: Can you talk about the challenge of trying to follow up something as phenomenally successful as the original Frozen soundtrack?

R: There aren't many musical sequels and even fewer great ones — probably because most musical characters don't have much to sing about after their original stories are completed. The most important thing that [directors] Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck did at the beginning of the process was exhaustively examine the characters again, where they ended up after the original Frozen. Jennifer Lee journaled as Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff — and even took the full Meyers-Briggs personality analysis test as each character. And what they discovered was a very rich and emotional landscape of themes that led us to a story that had a lot to sing about.

S: Do you have a favorite song from Frozen 2?

R: That's like choosing a favorite child. "Into the Unknown," "The Next Right Thing" and "Show Yourself" are songs we are very proud of.

S: What songs or artists are currently on your personal playlist?

R: I go back to my favorites a lot — The Beach Boys, The Beatles, John Williams. I have been listening to a lot of film music to learn more and more about that as well.

S: What would be your advice for any budding songwriters just starting out?

R: Just write a lot, be open to learning as much as you can, and get your stuff seen. The BMI Musical Theater Writing Workshop in NYC is a great place to go hone your skills and meet collaborators.

See Frozen 2 in theaters now.

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