On September 29, Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA) debuted its At-Home Family Hour Series with the creators and artists of the popular animated Amazon Original series, Pete the Cat. ETM-LA families and community members enjoyed this special virtual event, which featured a drawing lesson, musical performances, and gave a peek into the creative process behind the making of the show.
Executive Producer/Artist Jeff “Swampy” Marsh (Phineas & Ferb, Milo Murphy’s Law, The Simpsons) demonstrated how to draw Pete the Cat and encouraged the audience to draw along with him. He explained not to worry about making a “perfect picture” – it is about perseverance. “Every artist has one thousand drawings in them… your job is to get them out as quickly as possible.”
Marsh revealed that his ultimate job is storytelling and that “music at its peak is telling a story.” He displayed the unique guitar used for Pete’s singing voice, made from the hubcap of an old car! KT Tunstall, Grammy Award-Winning Singer-Songwriter and the voice of Pete’s Mom and Catalina Casesolver, performed her song CatGo and the Nine Lives. Her character fittingly plays electric guitar and leads the show’s rock band, and Tunstall jokingly compared recording Catalina’s songs in-studio with a live band to being in The Ramones.
Tom Freund (Multi-Instrumentalist Singer-Songwriter; voice of Papi), who co-wrote the show’s theme song with Marsh, sang a song from the show called Just Gotta Be You. He shared that Pete the Cat has a “sense of family”; the feeling of purpose it gives is “the best feeling in the world,” and he loves watching the process of song and script writing. Marsh commented that the show’s process is rare in that both the music and storylines are written simultaneously.
After showing a clip of Sally Squirrel singing No, No, No from the Valentine’s Day Special – Where are the Cards?, the voice behind the character, Annie Award-Nominated Voice Actress Juliet Donenfeld shared that it’s one of her favorite songs from the show. She has fun voicing Sally because “she’s a lot like myself… she’s hyper, funny, and has so much energy.” Marsh marveled at Donenfeld’s “photographic memory”; she not only learns Sally’s songs, she learns all of the characters’ songs!
The event wrapped up with a Q&A, which included the question: “Sally Squirrel, would you like to visit California some day?” Donenfeld replied, “I live in California, so yes!” As the event came to a close, Marsh touchingly shared, “Everything about Pete the Cat feels like hanging out, having fun, and being silly with my friends.” Tunstall agreed, reflecting that Pete the Cat “brings joy to kids and adults watching” and it conveys “beautiful messages about life and how to handle it.”
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