#093 Timestorm – Michael Aquino – In The Timestorm

Join Michael Aquino, composer for audio drama Timestorm in an upbeat soundtrack to a time-travel story. An immersive listening experience. Headphones recommended. 



The piece of music we’re listening to in the background is called In The Timestorm. It’s the theme song from Timestorm, an audio drama about two kids who get the chance to preserve their history. Today we’ll break it down and get into why and how it was made. You’re listening to How I Make Music, where audio drama composers get to tell their own stories. Every Wednesday, we break apart a song soundtrack or composition and take a trip into how it was made. My name is Michael Aquino. I’m a composer, musician, sound designer and podcast producer from New Jersey. And this is How I Make Music. Welcome back to How I Make Music Episode 93 by me, Michael Aquino. Thanks for listening in. Timestorm is an audio drama about two twins Alexa and Benny Ventura, who are yanked into another dimension by their cousin who gives them this crazy mission: to travel through time to preserve their culture’s true history. Throughout the the series, they visit three different continents across the span of five centuries. And they’re meeting people who have left their mark on Puerto Rican history.


So a big influence on the theme song was the theme song for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Every time I watched Buffy, and I heard that theme song, man, I was ready to watch the show. And I think that’s what I wanted to create with this theme song was this this energy and excitement about getting into the world of times. My next big inspiration was Saturday morning cartoons and cartoons in general. The creativity and imagination of Fraggle Rock, that theme song has always struck a chord in my heart. The Smurfs were another one. You can tell I’m 80s, 90s kid. Saturday morning cartoons really tapped into my kid imagination and inspiration. They didn’t speak down to the kids. We wanted something that felt like you were talking to the kids. And also hopefully engaging the parents because you know the parents are listening to this too. So we want to share it. They’re having a good time. Dan Zanes is a performer of kids’ music. And I watched when Dan Zanes was performing, the kids were jumping around and having a good time, and the parents were jumping around and having a good time! And I always think about that energy when I’m creating music for this age group, which is tweens, typically.


Timestorm is created by me and my partner in crime, Dania Ramos. Dani and I decided that we were going to take a weekend and hole ourselves up in this inn and write the theme song. “We’re going we’re getting out of our comfort zone and just going somewhere and and we’re gonna create this.” So we traveled four and a half hours north, in our in our little four cylinder car. It was the middle of February, and it was frickin cold. And if you know Vermont, it’s cold! Bumpy roads, it was crazy. We got there. We were the only ones The only other ones in this inn, so it was the innkeeper and us. And because it was so empty, he upgraded our room to this really wonderful suite with this fireplace. I went into the other bedroom, closed the door. And this is what I started on guitar. This whole theme song started on guitar. Dania gave me some lyrics that she had written. And I went to work on trying to compose the song. I wanted it to be energetic, so I kept it to two three chords and finally got it to a point where I came outside of the bedroom, opened the door. And, and I was like, Okay, I think I’ve got something and I played it for her. And, and she was like, and this happened a bunch of times. So like I would just come out, work on some things. She gave me some notes. I we’d hash it out. I go back into the bedroom, close the door, worked on it some more and came out and it was just a lot of fun. And by the end of Saturday, we had the the first version ready to go. And we had another day so we just kind of enjoyed the last day in Vermont without having to do anything else. It was great.


I enjoy rhythm so I knew that it was going to be very rhythmic and different drums, some electronic some actual drums, combining MIDI with actual sounding instruments. And then I went to the low end, finding a plugin of synthesizer that I really enjoyed. Very fluid and very wavy. And I got obsessed with a theremin when a friend of mine created what he called a “Theremin Devil’s Phone”. And he would use it at his gigs and it was really cool. It was this red phone. And it was it was a theremin so he would just play it. Added the theremin in there. I was the person who sang and rapped on the track, preparing the listener to re enter the world every time and just reminding them that the core focus of this this show is to witness find and remember history. History being the important treasure touchstone of the whole thing.


So yeah, so I think a big challenge for me was lyrically, making sure that a can sing and rap it and be the listener can understand some of these these kids that were listening to it when we were prototyping it, were like we just can’t understand everything. So we paired it back and being able to make that clear, make those lyrics clear and understandable were really important when creating this theme song. As I was beginning to pull out words, I was like, oh, wow, it’s so much easier now to sing and rap over!

14:04 VIOLIN

We had brought in this amazing violinist Aurora Mendez to come in and record some violin parts that were featured in the episode. And she came into the studio and did an amazing job in adding her touch to it.


What I really enjoy doing is creating these short musical transitions. So I’ll use natural sounds like for a play like they were outside and they were by a playground. I included basketball dribbling as a drumbeat. You know what I mean? It’s it was just so much fun to be able to create music that way. Here are a couple of the transitions. We’re gonna play them back-to-back.


I think I drive my wife Dania nuts. Sometimes when I when I find things with like tones or specific overtones to them, I’ll like begin to drum or hit on them because I’m very rhythmically oriented. So I’ll just be like, Can we please stop drumming on the microwave, or whatever it is, you know what I mean? It’s here, here’s the spouses that put up with our ridiculousness.

16:14 OUTRO

That’s about it for this week’s episode. We’ll listen to the full track in just a moment. But before we do that, thank you for listening to How I Make Music. Catch new episodes every Wednesday on Spotify, Apple or whereever else. We’ve been listening to music featured in the audio drama called Timestorm. To hear the full story or to check out my other compositions, follow the links in the show notes. Keep a lookout for Timestorm season three dropping this spring. We’re super excited about it. Check out what’s on offer at patreon.com/howimakemusic. How I Make Music is created by John Bartmann for audio experiences that keep people listening, contact John Bartmann via the show notes. And now here’s In The Timestorm, the theme song for Timestorm in its entirety. My name is Michael Aquino, and thanks for listening to How I Make Music. Catch you next Wednesday.


Timestorm timestormseries.com/
Michael Aquino www.michaelaquino.com/
Dania Ramos www.daniaramos.com/


Nerf Herder – Buffy The Vampire Theme
Robert J. Walsh – Fraggle Rock Opening Theme
Hoyt Curtin – Smurfs Opening Theme
Dan Zanes – Smile, SMile, Smile
John Bartmann – Chill And Grill




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How I Make Music is created by John Bartmann. For audio experiences that keep people listening, visit johnbartmann.com