Interview with Jacob Yofee and Roahn Hylton (composers of “The Wonder Years”)

“The thing we had to think about the most was making sure the sound world matched the narrative,” admits Roahn Hylton about the return to television of “The Wonder Years” of the 1960s. His fellow composer Jacob Yofe adds: “We really wanted to stay in this Bill Wither, Aretha Franklin, late 60s, R&B, Motown, rhythm section. It was a ton of fun, and not something you really hear on the comedy network. Watch the exclusive video interview above.

“The Wonder Years” is a reimagining of the Emmy-winning series from the late 1980s. Although still set in the late 1960s, this incarnation tells the story of an African-American family of the middle class in Alabama. It is told from the perspective of 12-year-old Dean (Elisha Williams) and told by Don Cheadle, who plays adult Dean. Hytlon says, “Our show has its own being. We wanted to make sure it was authentic to this family while still leaving room for the story of the majority that “The Wonder Years” really is.

Fred Savage starred in the original version of the series and serves as executive producer and director on the new version. Yofee reveals, “Fred at first was really excited to replicate the sound of the original. He suggested that we only use an acoustic guitar. When he heard the ideas and the sound of what we were doing, he was into it. All of a sudden it started to grow and the show’s music became a character in its own right.

Yoffee and Hylton compose the music for the series. In the series, Dean’s father, Bill Williams (Dule Hill) gave the songwriting duo something interesting to play with. Hytlon explains, “The show’s dad is also a funk jazz musician and college music professor. So the music was really central to telling the story. One of the coolest things we got to do in an episode was basically play the main titles live as imagined by the main characters of the show. It was a brilliant idea from our showrunner Saladin to incorporate the main titles of the show as part of the world in the show.

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