Rick and Morty Composer Ryan Elder on Morty's Heartbreak, Season 5b

Season Five of Rick and Morty is full of discoveries. So far we have been introduced to Rick's long-time nemesis, his legion of decoy families, and Morty's heartbreak. Scoring these incredible revelations and adding additional emotion is composer Ryan Elder (Rick and Morty, Boss Baby: Back in Business). Legend has it that Elder was friends with Dan Harmon (Community, Rick and Morty) and Justin Roiland (Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites) for a long time. Collaborating, in fact, on the infamous Doc & Marty short that started this whole dimension-hopping ball of wax rolling. Recently Elder sets his portal gun to Dimension C-137 and joins Bleeding Cool to break down the music of the latest episode and share if he thinks that Morty could, or should, ever be happy.

Ryan Elder discusses his work on Rick and Morty, and more (Images: Adult Swim)
Ryan Elder discusses his work on Rick and Morty, and more (Images: Adult Swim)

The special thing about animation, and "Rick and Morty" is a great example, is that it creates a certain kind of shorthand that becomes emotional with the audience very quickly. There is something about it that you let it in deeper than other things and it sticks with you. your music is a big part of that emotional connection. Tell me about your process to discover the theme or tone of an episode.

Ryan Elder: That all comes from making an effort to tell the story, right? That's kind of my job. One big part of my job is to tell the story and help tell the story. To support the story through my music and a lot of that is taking cues from the visuals… How do I show that this character has this emotional moment? We just had an episode (with) Planetina  (S05E03 "A Rickconvenient Mort") this past Sunday night and in that there were several emotional moments. One of them was, a big moment at the end, that was a track that the writer had requested. Rob Schrab (Monster House, Community) the genius writer of that episode requested this song "I am the Antichrist to You" by Kishi Bashi which is just an incredible piece of music.

And so my job with that was to take that Kishi Bashi song and edit it and carve it in a way that would help tell the story in those moments we wanted. But in addition to that, there was a moment where Morty was really falling in love where we had the opportunity to create an original song. I got together with my friend Mark Mallman (Zombie Chic 3-D) and he wrote some lyrics. I wrote the music and I sang it and then when we put the full song together. He sang some backgrounds and stuff on it too. That was just a moment to really, like that we needed an emotional, almost overly earnest song that Morty might be listening to on his phone, or whatever, while he's texting with his new girlfriend. In that case, it was like how can we push this to the limit in terms of earnestness and emotional connection with Morty to show that he's like in a position that a lot of us have had the benefit of being in which is like, wildly in love, and any cheesy song speaks to you more in that moment, right?  

That's a really big gut punch at the end of that third episode. His first relationship was erased when his timeline was reset, Jessica just turned into a Time-God, now Planetina breaks his heart. Do you think Morty will ever find happiness? 

RE: I think it would be boring if he did, personally. Honestly, I think I will take Morty falling in love forever. For one hundred episodes. To me that's funny, that's interesting. If Morty gets into a relationship that lasts over the course of even more than two or three episodes, you know I don't think that's in the spirit of the show. He hasn't aged since the show (started) They just said in this last episode (S5E3 A Rickconvenient Mort) that he's just fourteen, the same age he was in the pilot. So it's kind of like The Simpsons, or any animated show, where the characters don't age. They sort of exist in this one moment so you know. Fourteen-year-olds rarely get into relationships that last that long, and so to me it wouldn't be fun. Honestly, I am not dialed into the writer's room so I don't know if we are in fact following the Morty we always have been. My guess is they don't care to make that distinction, but I honestly don't know. I'll leave that to the fans that want to pour over all the details. We could easily have an episode where Morty does fall in love and it lasts forever, but we are probably not going to revisit that Morty because there is no conflict in that. There's no interest.

rick and morty
Image: Screencap

 You have seen a lot on this show and every season gets bigger and stranger. Can you tease what you think the fans will get most excited about in the remaining seven episodes of season 5? 

RE: I don't want to say too much but I will say, I think that – the fans are going to be extremely happy with the back half of this season. Not that the front half is bad, it's amazing. I think this season is fantastic. I think it's just as good as any season, but the back half of this season is amazing. It's truly spectacular. So I'm really excited for people to see it. 

Season Five of Rick and Morty airs Sunday nights at 11:00 pm on Adult Swim. Keep up with Ryan for Rick and Morty updates on Twitter @RyanElderMusic, and Instagram @RyanElderMusic.

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About Jimmy Leszczynski

Jimmy Leszczynski has been blurring the line between comics and reality at SDCC every year since 1994, and was a nerd long before Lewis, Gilbert, and the Tri Lamdas made it cool. Middle aged father of 2 that REFUSES to grow up, lifelong Bat-Fan, and he thinks he's pretty funny.
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