The Man | Shawn Patterson

The Man | The Myth | The Legend {Shawn Patterson}

Songwriter | Composer

cover photos by J. Regis
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[dropcap letter=”H”]e can fly, he can fight crime, he can take 72 episodes of Dreamworks’ Puss in Boots and write original scores to every episode, turning it around in record time; he can drive a beatup minivan around town with a smile on his face and a questionable sense of cool; he is known to be more quick witted than most, can rock Armani,  scale tall buildings ALL while writing the funniest satirical musical you’ve ever seen about Sarah Palin and Jesus. Sure, Shawn Patterson might be the reason you can’t get the LEGO Movie’s, “Everything is Awesome” out of your head, but he also happens to be a musical genius. The man is one of the only men who could give Trey Parker and Matt Stone a run for their money. Yes, he’s that clever. I say this not because he’s my friend (because honestly, that’s why I WOULDN’T give his praises … I prefer giving him a hard time) but I say it because I have had the privilege of working and writing with him and have seen that not only can he take any idea and compose it into a musical masterpiece, he’s a damn funny writer.

With recently joining the William Morris Endeavor {WME} Team under the direction of Agent, Amos Newman (a man with musical bragging rights and a roster of successes that would make your head explode, who also happens to be a genuinely nice guy), Shawn is finally getting the acclaim he deserves.

As Shawn says, “He’s a 20-plus year overnight success”.

Since the Academy Awards nominations along with a slew of other clout worthy nominations recognized by his peers, you will find him these days working on his musical, taking spontaneous private plane trips to New York where a random Instagram pic might appear with him and Bryan Cranston, at home with his three kids, or still writing insane amounts of music for a heavy episodic schedule for Dreamworks (and he rocks it). Point is, Shawn is not the kind of musical mastermind that likes to be in a lull. He works harder than anyone I know and has the poise and humility to embrace it all. Everything he does, he does with all he’s got.

Taking cues from musical greats like John Williams, risks like Steve Martin, and reminding us all that music can, and should have a sense of humor, sharing a bit about who Shawn is, a bit more unfiltered, is something I feel privileged to be able to do. If, in the event you were unaware of who he was until now, take note. He’s a rare breed, a terrific father, and he’s about to change the way musicals are done; and by changing I mean he is candidly combining the two most controversial topics in the modern world: politics and religion. Only he’s putting original music to them and you’ll laugh, and you won’t apologize for it. Because it’s funny …

Without further adieu, here’s Shawn Patterson.

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In a world of music, what instrument would you be and why?

Does it have to be a musical instrument? Hmmmm … If so, I would be the primary piano in Beethoven’s parlor. If for no other reason, the vibrations would be incredible. Also, I would make a kick ass coaster for his wine bottle(s).

What was the very first piece of original music you did that was just for you (meaning it was done in the vision you set out to accomplish)?

When I was younger, I read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography and I admired so much of it and yet I was also disturbed by parts of it. A particular chapter mentioned him and friends getting drunk and weightlifting gigantic stone blocks in the forest. For some reason, this visual (at least to me) was hilarious and messed up. So, I started sketching out on paper an orchestral piece that I called, “Stone Lifting in Munich”. It had lots of low brass; French horns, a contra tuba, etc.

I never got to record it. I have no doubt it was horribly constructed but I am sure there were elements of distinct “character” in it. I wrote nothing significant musically prior to this piece. I was always drawn to writing to some kind of visual; to be a part of the storytelling.

In your musical, “It Came From Wasilla”, the conflict between Sarah Palin’s character and her inability to see the obvious is humorous, but also taboo. What would you say is the most controversial part of her character?

Well, in my musical, my Sarah is a very exaggerated version of the real life Palin. So in my telling of her, I would say gluttony and the desire to be admired are some big crippling and controversial qualities. Once she gets a taste of each, she’s on the fast track to destruction; a tornado of horror and beauty.


In a perfect world, would your dogs be characters in a musical?

No. They can eat snacks and watch.


How scared are you of self-sabotage?

Not at all. I’m only scared of getting sick and not being able to care for my children. Short of that, nothing really scares me. I’ve already lived so much more than so many people I know and at my age, I don’t take my life and journey for granted. I have far too much responsibility to be self-sabotaging. If anything, the strange draw to sabotage is far more compelling than fearful. I’m all about self-preservation without too many limits, if that makes sense. In my youth, I was invincible and I routinely tested that. In many ways, I am frequently surprised I made it this far in life.


Oscars, Grammy’s, awards oh my! Strangest part of the entire process?

Well … first I would say people’s reaction to my work. I’ve been at this for a very long time and suddenly one little tune got everyone’s attention. The strangest part, hands down for me, are the wild level of inconsistencies between award shows and their individual set of rules. The Grammy’s have their own set of rules that differed from say, IMA’s or Critics Choice. The song itself had a lot of aspects to consider. Some award shows the song was mentioned in, didn’t have me listed as the songwriter of “Everything Is Awesome” whatsoever. I was honored to be mentioned on so many varying platforms but I have to admit, it was definitely an educational process for sure. The Academy Award nomination is the one that means the world to me; it hangs on my wall in this big, beautiful frame reminding me of what it took to accomplish that. The music committee of the Academy read The Lego Movie’s song writing credits, looked at the actual cue sheets; they really put the effort into the nomination process and the end result says it all. Their songwriter rules are the most rigid and in my opinion they set the benchmark that other award shows should follow.


When you were growing up, what was the first piece of music you ever heard that influenced you to really express yourself?

Well, I heard Steve Martin playing the banjo – that got me into music; a bit odd, I know. He was playing Foggy Mountain Breakdown (among other things) and his precision and command of the instrument blew me away. As a result, I got heavily into Bluegrass music for a while. After that, without a doubt, hearing Superman and Star Wars scores while still a kid sitting in the movie theater made me realize I would be a score composer. Maestro John Williams set the bar for all film scores to follow.

Chopin or Tchaikovsky? And yes, you’ll need to tell me why.

Tchaikovsky. His absolute command and strength of melody in most all of his pieces across multiple genres: concerto, ballet, symphony, string quartet, is mind-boggling. Check out his Serenade Melancolique in Bb minor. I mean, Chopin was no slouch, but Tchaikovsky is absolute magic and a powerhouse. One of my top favorite composers; he is a god among men. His work has had a big influence on me.

As a father to three amazing kiddos, what 3 lessons are you most adamant about teaching them about life?

1) Always be honest to others and yourself.

2) Never stop fighting for what is right and what you want.

3) Always hug your father because he likes it.


Do you believe in an all-encompassing love outside of fatherhood and music?

Absolutely. I continue to learn about myself, others, and the extent of what we are capable of feeling. To feel that level of love makes us want to stop and actually breathe as there is real purpose to do so. I believe it greatly. I’m somewhat of a romantic fool in many ways.


In your career, you have had so many incredibly waves of triumph and huge blows of defeat. What makes you get up and dust yourself off and keep creating?

I came from a very simple life. My mom and dad were blue-collar factory workers and through their tireless efforts to provide and give us all they had, they taught both my brothers and myself that we are fighters. We don’t stop. I have a beautiful life that is very full and satisfying. Compared to some, I have been born into privilege. At the end of the day, I will always fight for my kids and their well-being and to also see what I can do; how far can I go? It may be a long time before I could ever ever sit back and say, “this is enough. I’m done.” What’s the point to that? There is so much to discover and create. That’s what we do. That’s what you do too. (Thanks SP)


Toughest challenge of working on animation?

The characters are so flat. No, seriously. Due to the many possibilities of exaggerated physicality in the genre, there is a natural tendency to follow suit in music; movement, tempo, cadence, etc. can all be heightened. So, to keep that in check is a constant learning experience.


Passion. What does that look like to you?

When my girlfriend smiles at me.


If you could sit down in a room with John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra, and Hank Williams, what would the conversation start out like? And what is something you’d ask each of them?

WOW. I wouldn’t know what to say. I would buy them each a drink and toast to their lives and their magic. Maybe I’d ask them to tell me a favorite moment in their careers. Not the best moment, but … a meaningful moment; something that made them realize who they are. Eventually, I’d ask Freddie and Louis to sing a duet for me while I stole Sinatra’s hat. After that, it would all be downhill.


Life is full of twists and turns and god knows you’ve seen this first hand. In your life, what top 5 events happened that have shaped you as a songwriter?

I have always been creating. I always was a kid and it never stopped. In general, a profound affect on my music would be my father’s death as a kid.  When you feel loss like that, until you face it, understand it, grapple with it, you need to channel those emptions. I didn’t understand it for many, many years and as a result, I poured myself into my music. I was the kid practicing 12 hours a day at every chance I could. My dad was a talented musician and his spirit exists in my music constantly. Beyond that, I would just say, the wide range of music I have been drawn to over the years and my music teachers.  I found them and they all had an incalculable affect on my growth; giving me the tools to march forward: Mark Marquis, Rick Graiko, Adam Levine, Jack Smalley, Doug Davis, Max Roach. They all made me. So, lets blame them. 


With the recent success from the LEGO Movie and the uncertainties that went on behind the scene, what line in that song epitomizes the experience?

That’s easy: “ Let’s Party Forever”.

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And there you have it. My friend, Shawn. The man. The myth. The legend. The guy that really is going to make the world laugh while making you sing out loud at the same time. Sometimes with catchy songs you will both love and loathe him for.

Thanks Mister Patterson. I’m honored to call you my friend and … since we’re friends, can you hurry up and get ICFW on Broadway already? I need an excuse to fly to NY. (Plus it’s brilliant and I’m impatient.)

To learn more about his projects, visit

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Shawn Patterson is more than a composer and songwriter. With unmistakable humor, an endless range of musicality, and a passion for every composed piece, his work is undeniably memorable. Shawn is responsible for one of the most popular, ultra-catchy songs you’ve no doubt heard people singling just about everywhere these days. The song? “Everything is AWESOME” featured in Warner Bros. latest family film, “The Lego Movie” directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. “Everything is AWESOME” has become his most recognized musical piece.

Shawn is the score composer on Dreamworks’, “Puss and Boots”,  was the score composer and songwriter on the Emmy Award winning television series, “Robot Chicken” for creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich. In June 2014, Shawn’s music was selected and honored at the ASCAP for his music on “Robot Chicken” at the 29th Annual Film & Television Music Awards. This prestigious award is given to a very select few composers of the top box office film music and most performed television music of the year.

Past work includes being the score composer for the multi-award winning television series, “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera”, directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez. Equally adept at writing both engaging song and composing powerful underscore, Patterson’s distinct musical style has been featured in film, episodic television, international film trailers, radio and television commercials. He has composed for a variety of brilliant directors such as Chris McKay, Jorge R. Gutierrez, Henry Selick, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon, Phil Lord & Chris Miller and many others.

As a songwriter, Patterson has written and/or produced tunes for a diverse range of talent and styles: Seth MacFarlane, Zac Efron, 50 Cent, Matthew Morrison, RZA, Ke$ha, Patrick Stump, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and many more.

A father of three, an avid music collaborator, and a devoted student of martial arts, Shawn spends any non-musical time honing discipline, having fun with his kids, and when time permits, caught riding his motorcycle any chance he gets.



William Morris Endeavor
Amos Newman
9601 Wilshire Blvd,
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 859-4220

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