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Sibling non-rivalry in the Emmys

Kai Ryssdal, Mukta Mohan, and Tommy Andres Aug 4, 2015
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Among the nominees for this year’s prime time Emmy’s are a pair of composers who happen to be brothers. Thanks to their work in the FX Network drama Tyrant, Mychael and Jeff Danna are nominated for both Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music and for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series.

The siblings’ music has a distinctly ethnic flair to it which, they say, comes naturally.

“We both started in Canada for quite a while now,” Michael says. “Canada being a very multicultural country, I think there’s a lot of exposure to different instruments in different countries. I think it’s something we’re very used to.”

To achieve their unique sound, the brothers say they frequently collaborate with one another. They pass what they’re working on back and forth constantly, they say, in order to refine it to their standards.

“We often liken it to animators who could draw something, pass it off to someone else and they could say well what if the ears looked like this instead? And He’d erase it and draw the ears on,” Jeff says.

The Danna brothers believe they both bring different qualities to their music.

“We definitely have different strengths and weaknesses,” Michael says. “You have something that you think is great and then my brother will say, ‘There’s a weakness right here. This is not as great as the rest of it.’ You might not have noticed or maybe you did notice it and tried to fool yourself into thinking it was okay. But the other guy won’t go along with that.”

This refining process helps the two composers get to what’s important in their work: assisting the narrative of the show, they say. 

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