Date: Saturday, 23th October 2010
Thanks to Dylan and thanks to Máni for answers ;)
Dylan: Máni talks about the past, present and future of LazyTown.
NOTE: This interview wasn't planned and I was asking questions off the top of my head.
Dylan: LazyTown started out as a series of books, but you weren't really involved until the first play yeah?
Máni: That´s true. I had made music for Magnús´s aerobic routines before that - but my first LazyTown involvement was with the first play.
Noooo... hold it. Actually - we made a CD that was attached to one of the LazyTown books with simple musical games.
Dylan: Kind of like the Superhero Moves CD?
Máni: Hmm... well... yes and no. It was more like Magnús telling a story - and the music followed the story.
Dylan: Ahh ok, so when did Magnus talk to you about making it into a play? And what did you think?
Máni: Honestly - I don´t really remember. The books were really popular and it was just logical I guess. I must admit I was a little skeptical. I didn´t have any kids at that time and wasn´t thinking about kids or kids health.
Dylan: So with the first play, you wrote a song for each character?
Máni: Yes - that’s correct. Along with a few other songs.
Dylan: And the play was based on the book with a few rewrites here and there?
Máni: Yep - you’re right. He got help from an Icelandic director called Baltasar Kormakur - who just directed his first "Hollywood" film called "Inhale".
Dylan: And so was it right after you decided to do a second play? Or when was that decided?
Máni: No - the first show ran for a full house for over a year or so. The second show came 2 years later.
Dylan: I know some of the current LazyTown songs seem to be based on ones from the second play (eg Bing Bang is from Bing Bang Dingalingaling and Gizmo guy is from Megabæt)
Was there anything in particular that made you go back to these?
Máni: I think the reason is one of my mottos: If it ain't broken - don’t fix it.
For example, I haven’t changed the backing track of Bing Bang from the original recording in 1999!!
Dylan: Yeah I noticed that! Actually while I remember, was there any particular reason you made Bing Bang (Time to Dance)? And which version do you think is better?
Máni: I didn’t do the “Time to dance” version. I think they are both great – but I prefer the original.
Dylan: Oh really? Who did?
Máni: Honestly - I don’t know his name. Someone in the UK.
Dylan: So back to the plays, when you were showing the second play (Glanni Glæpur í Latabær) did any of you think LazyTown would become the worldwide success it is now?
Máni: I don’t think so. I never thought we would move it out of the country. Maybe Magnus was the only one that was 100% certain it could be done.
Dylan: So how long after the second play did you decide to make it into the TV show it is today?
Máni: I think it was about...2 years. Maybe Magnus decided it earlier - but I remember starting to work on it pretty heavily in 2001/2002.
Dylan: Working on the pilot episode?
Máni: Well - working on the short pilot and other things.
I wasn´t composing songs at that time. I didn’t really start that until we moved in to the studio in 2003/2004.
Dylan: So just redesigning the show yeah?
Máni: We spent a lot of time trying to come up with the "rules" of LazyTown and the "storymachine" behind it.
Dylan: Yeah that’s what I mean, like re....creating it sort of. So it was during this you filmed the pilot then Magnus went to sell it all? Or was the contract with Nick already done at the time?
Máni: No the contract with Nick wasn’t ready. We worked on restructuring the town/characters - then made the "pilot" - and then Maggi went on the road to sell it.
Dylan: So by now did you think you would sell it and get as worldwide as you have?
or did you still all think just Iceland?
Máni: At this point we all totally thought it could go abroad. Again, Magnús knew it all the time but more and more people were coming aboard, believing in LazyTown.
Dylan: So when you started production it went on for a while, filming and you writing a song a week on average yeah?
Máni: I was writing one song a week - on average.
Dylan: Wow! Where did you usually get ideas for your songs?
Máni: Well - the best ones (in my mind) came when I was driving home late at night from work to my house (about a 15 minute drive.)
I started to hum something - and when I came home, I recorded the melody into my mobile - and worked from that the morning after.
Dylan: Which songs are the best ones in your mind?
Máni: Hmmm .. You are a pirate - Always a way - Cooking by the book - Step by step - Spooky song .. to name a few from Season 1.
Dylan: I would have said the same, except I would have put Twenty Times Time in there too haha.
So lately you haven't been doing much songwriting yeah? Except for Go Step Go?
Máni: Unfortunately that´s true. I wish I could be writing more songs. “Go Step Go” was the last song I wrote for LazyTown. (You’re right... “20 times” should be there also.)
Dylan: Honestly I think most could go in that list, their all great! is there any plans for a new soundtrack soon? or will we probably not hear any new songs until the movie?
Máni: Hard to say - we all want to make more material one way or the other. Not sure what the future holds.
Dylan: So the future for LazyTown is..... not secure? not in a it could die/go bankrupt way, but more what's actually going to happen?
Máni: Guess you’re right. Nothing has been decided so to speak.
Dylan: So what's actually been happening these past few years? Just reusing material?
Máni: Well - we’ve been going into new markets and making contacts in those markets. We’ve been working a lot in South-America, Spain and Portugal and so on. Greece is taking off - and Eastern Europe has also been strong.
So selling Lazytown in countries that haven't seen it yet basically?
Máni: Yep. Also - because our target group is 3-5 years old - we get a new group of audience pretty fast.
Dylan: So, live shows, is there usually any new material for them ever? or do you just reuse songs/dances from the show in it?
Máni: We don´t make any new songs - maybe a re-arrangement or something - but the kids want to hear songs that they know from the tellie.
Dylan: Yeah, that reminds me of a video I saw when Magnús and Julianna did Go Step Go live at that UK play center, and no kids knew what the song was.
Then you saw Julianna dance to Bing Bang and the kids were dancing along too. So yeah I see what you mean there.
Dylan: Stefán Karl recently said he wouldn't be playing Robbie anymore, has anything been decided on a new actor?
Máni: No, nothing has been decided regarding that.
Dylan: Well that's about all the questions I can think of at the moment, Thanks for the interview!
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