Friday, April 20, 2012

The Secret Garden Trailer and Involvement Status Corrections

The Trailer:

I had a few technical difficulties putting this together (not all of which were fully resolved I'm sorry to say), but still, I am happy to report that the trailer for GTP's next production is here!

Please, please pass it on to friends and family (especially those with kids!) in the area. It's not easy making theater with children this young and it not turning into a recital, but I feel all involved are giving it everything they've got to achieve something more. There are some really talented kids in the mix. Along with new faces it has been a delight to see some of the older kids who have been in previous productions with Anna really coming into their own as actors on this. So come on out!

To be frank, kids need theater and theater needs patrons.

Involvement Status Corrections:

In a previous post I incorrectly said the Beverly Seng would be providing an original score that I would be arranging for this production. This was a misunderstanding on my part. I had initially planned to not be involved with this show and was then asked to arranged the instruments and sound mix for the tracks about a month in to make things sonically more in the spirit of Anna's last big  young children's theater fantasy project, Snow White (which was the first that I had provided any music and sound effects for). Along with instructing the children for the musical numbers, Beverly arranged the original score, simplifying some numbers for our young beginners' ease and tweaking others. Being a fairly peripheral team member on this production, and with many other things going on in my life, I took "rewrote" to mean she wrote something completely new. This assumption wasn't corrected until I started discussing promotional material rather late in the game, but again, I was on the sidelines for most of the pre-production and rehearsals until the last couple weeks.

So, to clarify... Beverly Seng arranged the score and I arranged the instrumentation and sound mix. Sorry for the confusion and misrepresentation. My bad.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Recent Demos: "Now and Again," "Fingerprints and Vinyl Dreams," and "Smoke Dragons."

Here's a few old songs I've rearranged demos for.

"Smoke Dragons"

This was a song I wrote and performed back when I was attending Charlottesville's No Shame Theater. It's very heavily influenced by Bob Dylan's original version of "All Along the Watchtower" from his album, John Wesley Harding. I used to listen to that album on vinyl in the living room on weekends as a teenager, around the same time I was getting into Leonard Cohen. Chiefly led by the imagery of Tom Waits albums like The Black Rider, Bone Machine and Mule Variations, I was very interested in composing some sort of southern gothic, apocalyptic musical or folk opera, or concept album... or... something. It's never truly made it to fruition, but all along the way I have been dropping pieces, and bread crumbs, and a few brontosauruses assembled from the bones of this or that. This is one of those bones. Probably a femur.

The experimentation with the video generated some of my favorite results of any I've done thus far. I expect the particular look of this one to rear its head in at least one future project. Though that's still a very 'wait and see' sort of venture.

"Fingerprints and Vinyl Dreams"

Also written in high school, this song has for many years lacked a melody of its own. When I first wrote it, the lyrics were just sung to Devon Sproule's song "New Song" off her first album Devon. In that regard I feel like this is the longest song in progress, that I've written as this can be seen as the official melody instead of some reworking like the other songs I've shared. Sadly though, I think this had some of the worst mic/singing problems, and the vocals get a little more Billy Corgan-ish than I have any business attempting.

"Now and Again"

This was written after I graduated from high school and attending PVCC. It was a strange transition for me, from this tight-knit group at The Living Education Center to the comparably larger community college where everyone was a stranger. For all the social diversity at LEC, we were all relatively like-minded in political and spiritual views. Combined with the divisive climate of the time (the Bush/Kerry elections, and the Marshall/Newman Amendment), PVCC was a pretty stark contrast to that environment. It was a good thing, ultimately, but at the time it was frustrating, to the point of feelings even of resentment towards LEC. At its core, the song is very much about that moment where two people are getting along - until they realize they aren't supposed to be. Of the lot, I'm most happy with how it turned out.

That's it for now. I'll have more on Gorilla Theater stuff real soon. Much has been going on all fronts and this last week has been exhausting.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Winning Battle Royale

A few weeks back I slapped together a video and submitted it to an Ain't it Cool News contest to win a special edition copy of Kinji Fukasaku's final film, Battle Royale.

And I won.


For those not familiar with the infamous classic that I now have a very sexy special edition of, lets just say that The Hunger Games is to B.R. what Twilight was to Let The Right One In. It's a film about a class of middle school teens being forced by their government to fight each other to the death, only this film doesn't soften that concept for the mainstream in the least. There's lots of blood and drama and even a few moments of beauty. It's quite disturbing and not for everyone. Made in 2000, it's still banned in several countries. Though my Mom got me an imported copy this last Christmas, this BluRay marks the first official release in the States from what I understand.

Kinji Fukasaku was a giant in Japanese cinema, best known by Americans for directing the Japanese half of Tora! Tora! Tora!, he worked extensively in the Yakuza (Japanese gangster) genre with such films as Graveyard of Honor and Sympathy for the Underdog. For many contemporary fans of Yakuza films from the likes of Takashi Kitano (who stars in B.R., as the former teacher of the class now put in charge of their game of death) and Takashi Miike (who went on to remake Graveyard of Honor), Fukasaku is one of the elders that they are responding to with their existential/surrealistic "Neo-Yakuza" films. My point being... Battle Royale is a blood-soaked masterpiece. I can't wait to look over all the behind the scenes footage and finally compare BluRay to DVD formats by watching the same video in both. But in the mean time, I just wanted to express my gratitude to AICN news for this awesome prize.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Recent Music: "Real Doll Delivery (Demo)" and "Gale of the Wyvern"

And now for something that has nothing to do with GTP (gasp!).

Real Doll Delivery (Demo)

I actually wrote this song back in 2007 in a body of songs called Casualties of the Times, and its kind of a mind job for me to think that it's five years old. In part because I've slowed down a lot as a lyricist and in my mind it's a fairly recent song, but even more so because of how old that makes the many songs I wrote before it. As I said on the YouTube description, I originally structured it more in the style of "Sister" era Sonic Youth. When I started dabbling in recording vocals with Garageband, I applied it to the very basic bass loop structure and found the vocals more angsty. I think Xiu Xiu was stuck in my head on that day. It was sometime last December before Anna got me a mic for Christmas and I used the built-in mic of my aging iMac for the recording. It has been sitting on my hard drive ever since due to a lack of enthusiasm towards the result and mixing problems. I think I'm finally satisfied with the mix (there isn't much one can do about poor singing skills, but at least you can hear the guitar loops).

The video is of a wasp I found stuck between the screen and the glass of my kitchen window. I added some textures and stuff, but that's the gist of it.

Gale of the Wyvern

I might have started the earliest incarnation of this piece as far back as recording Real Doll Delivery. I've been picking at it on and off for a while, but of late it's served as a pallet cleanser at the end of the day - a little project unrelated to theater, film, or family commitments, that I can poke at for 20 or 40 minutes before going to sleep. It started out very much a guitar piece, and for some reason reminded me of that (also angst-ridden) moment in The Crow where Brandon Lee smashes his guitar. Obviously it sounds nothing like it, but I just got this image of someone having this kind of epic guitar-off to the point of becoming comical as I worked on it. I could never decide where the track was going though. Over time the second half was added and the idea of some sort of pursuit started building. The idea of running from a dragon kept swimming around in my head, and then for god only knows what reason I added high bass dance beats to the mix... and it felt right. There's a lot of almost chaos throughout the track as the two styles clash, but I like it and it feels good to be done with it.

The video footage is mostly comprised of some recent material from yesterday. I was parking my car across from the train tracks down by the amphitheater downtown, on my way to GTP auditions for She Stoops to Conquer, when a train happened to be coming into the station. Since I had my camera with me, I took a moment to film the wheels. I'll probably use the footage again in other things. What really excited me about it though was the sound I recorded from the train going down the tracks. Between editing The Doctor and my own projects I'm pretty sure that is going to come in real handy.

That's all for now.