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Meet the gay composer who scored the ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ movie, has a husband and 2-year-old son

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY — Jake Monaco’s fingerprints are found on such films as “Keeping Up With the Joneses,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “Absolutely Fabulous: The Move.”

Monaco isn’t seen on the silver screen, but he still leaves an impression — albeit an audio one.

Monaco is a composer who has written numerous film scores, including one for that fabulous movie, sweetie darlings and contributed music to several movies, such as “The Hangover” trilogy.

He also scores three family-favorite animated series: Amazon’s “The Stinky and Dirty Show,” Netflix’s “Dinotrux” and Warner Bros.’ “Be Cool Scooby Doo.”

Monaco was the orchestrator and score arranger on the Pixar movie “Piper,” which just won the Oscar for best animated short film.

Away from the recording studio, Monaco, 34, and his husband, Ryland, live in the San Fernando Valley, raising their 2-year-old son, Tommy.

In an interview with Q Voice News from his home-based recording studio, Monaco talks about scoring the “Ab Fab” movie, working on animation comedies and balancing fatherhood and his career. Here are excerpts from the interview.

On getting the call to score “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie”

“I got a call on a Tuesday morning. They were replacing the score and would be mixing it in three weeks. I had 17 days to score the film, about 30 minutes of music,” Monaco says. “I never actually spoke with the director or anyone on the creative side. It wasn’t until the film premiere in New York that I got to meet them.”

On creating the music for “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie”

I watched episodes from the series. I wondered if I could use anything iconic, but it started to feel dated. They wanted to push it forward,” Monaco says. “I wanted a modern synth score, lots of guitar sounds mangled and processed.

“In the chase sequence, we used an accordion player. It was an accordion-based techno piece. They wanted it to feel French,” he says.

“There was a nice moment when Eddy and Patsy are sitting by the pool after the wedding shenanigans, and Eddy is wondering, Should we be doing this? There was a nostalgic feeling, reflecting on herself — Abandoning her life and family instead of facing her problems. But Patsy is saying yes, being the supportive person she is,” Monaco says, chuckling. “It was a momentary lapse of reason for Eddy.

Actor Jon Hamm, left, is seen at the premiere of the his film “Keeping Up With the Joneses” with Jake Monaco, who scored the film. Photo: CW3 Public Relations.

On film music being under appreciated

“It’s under noticed sometimes. A good score can go unnoticed. You are supporting the story. You’re not there to be center stage, unless it’s center stage with no dialogue,” Monaco says. “The job of music is to help heighten the level of the story for the audience.”

On working in animation comedies

“Most animation I have worked on have been comedies. I like that genre,” he says. “Music that is light and fun instead of heavy drama gets me going. It’s nice to keep my job lite.”

On being married with a son

“I always wanted to be a dad and have a family, but I had no idea how it would happen. I never got sad or depressed about it. I always thought it would be great, but it wouldn’t ruin my life if it didn’t happen,” Monaco says.

“But the cards fell into place. Ryland and I got married in 2011 in Washington, D.C. In 2013 we were exploring adoption.”

On balancing work and family

“There is definitely a lot of balancing. It was difficult in the beginning,” Monaco says. “I have an overall deadline, but how I get there is up to me. If my son has to go to the doctor during the day, I can work in the studio at night. My husband is understanding.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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