Star vs the Forces of Evil: Interview with show composer Brian H. Kim

Headshot of Brian H. Kim - Courtesy of Impact24 PR
Headshot of Brian H. Kim - Courtesy of Impact24 PR /
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HR: Do you look at the characters in regards to their morality or more based on character?

Brian H. Kim: I think it’s less about whether they’re good or evil and more about what their journey is. Even Star, who is the hero of the show, her original theme was very bright and energetic, full of buzzy electronic stuff. But she has also had to make really grown-up decisions and judgments beyond her age range. Getting to write music for things like that is satisfying. It’s really just about characters who are complex and getting to be a part of their story.

HR: Were you inspired by any other shows while doing compositions?

Brian H. Kim: I’m a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and one of the cool things Christophe Beck did on that show is create character themes and manipulate them based on the situation the characters are in. When we started on Star, that was something I was really aware of, and writing a theme that could potentially be used in a lot of different ways because I didn’t know what would happen a year from then, or two years, and I wanted a theme that would be open to that moral ambiguity.

Another thing we were into when we were designing the score was retro anime. Darren Nefcy (the show’s creator) is a big fan of Sailor Moon and there is a specific way shows from that era use synthesizers, not only for music, but for sound effects. We try to emulate and modernize techniques from those shows with different instruments.

HR: I had a few fans ask me to see if you knew anything about a potential complete soundtrack release for Star vs the Forces of Evil since some OSTs and tracks aren’t currently available.

Brian H. Kim: I wish I had an answer to that. As far as I know, right now, there are no plans. But I think it will depend on interest and whether Disney thinks it would be worth their while – I obviously think it would be worth their while, I think it would be really fun!

HR: Is there anything you can tease about what’s coming up this season? Whether we might see new character themes or not?

Brian H. Kim: I probably can’t tease anything or I’ll get in trouble. But I will say there are some characters you’ve heard about previous seasons you finally get to see now, actually doing stuff in some way, shape, or form. It might be surprising who we see doing stuff in a larger capacity.

I do know, since episode titles have been released, there is an episode focused on Star and Marco’s friend Janna and I think it’ll be cool to see that character have a little fun in the spotlight.

Brian H. Kim
ABBY’S — “Pilot” Episode — Pictured (l-r) Natalie Morales as Abby, Jessica Chaffin as Beth, Nelson Franklin as Bill, Neil Flynn as Fred — (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC) /

HR: I’m looking forward to it! Did you want to talk a little about your work on the new NBC show Abby’s?

Brian H. Kim: I was so excited to get to work with Josh Malmuth, I was a fan of his work on New Girl, and Mike Schur is the executive producer and I’m a huge fan of The Good Place and Brooklyn Nine Nine, so the opportunity to get to work with both of them was mind-blowing.

Aside from that, the show is really funny, it’s about characters who care about each other and a place, the bar, Abby’s, I myself, would want spend time at every week. A lot of what we did with the music was to accentuate that aspect of it because we wanted it to feel friendly and familiar. I think it came together great.

HR: Do you have a different process to come up with compositions for a live-action show versus an animated show?

Brian H. Kim: So much of Star is cranked up to eleven, the drama is huge, the villains are huge – emotionally and physically. A lot of what I do on Star is ride that wave and push all that bigness as far as it can go to get the fullest emotional impact out of every episode.

For live-action comedy, you have to be really sensitive to timing of the jokes. It’s so easy to step on a joke with music. I feel like what I do on animated shows is additive, whereas on live-action comedy, it’s more subtractive in terms of finding those gaps and little beats to come in or get out of the way to make a joke land as best you can.

HR: I feel like Mike Schur has his own cinematic universe going on at NBC right now.

Brian H. Kim: Right? They call it the Schuruniverse. I can’t believe I get to be a part of it, I’ve been a fan for so long.

HR: Thank you so much for chatting with me Brian, I’ll wrap up with one last question: Any final thoughts about Star since the show is going to be coming to an end?

Brian H. Kim: I wanted to thank all the fans for making the show what it is. All the support online has been incredible. One of the biggest joys of the past few years is getting to interact with fans on social media, to see what it is that makes the show meaningful for them and seeing fans make friends with each other because they found the show. I know that’s important to Darren too.

Thanks for coming along for the journey and I hope you’re as excited about the final season as we are!

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Brian H. Kim has also worked on other popular projects in the past, including How I Met Your Mother and the 2015 film, Hello My Name is Doris, starring Sally Field.

If you want to follow Brian and stay up to date on all his upcoming projects you can find him on social media: @brianwithanh both on Twitter and Instagram!

The fourth season of Star vs the Forces of Evil is currently airing Sunday mornings on Disney Channel & Disney XD. Abby’s premieres Thursday, March 28th on NBC.