Friday, September 7, 2012

Young Writers Theatre

Reese's Pieces

Dan's Reese's Pieces backing track had a wonderful spirit, beautifully akin to the original ethos of IML, you can record with whatever you've got technology wise, it's not about the quality, it's about taking part and doing something. Dan's backing track (see blog post below) involved hammering something with something else to make a brilliant sound of hammering. It's a playground chant setup, so where do I turn? MY KIDS! I played the track to my 6 and 8 year old (that's 2 kids, 2 different ages rather than a trans-aged child) and asked for lyrical advice, based on the fact that the song HAD to be about a film they'd never seen involving an alien with a cranky voice who loved sweets.

We collectively listened to the track a few times, then it happened. Sam started chanting, the lyrics were written, he chanted some more, we recorded him chanting, fun ensued, track complete. Elliot (aged 8) wasn't so sure. The pressure of recording was too much, the sense of self which is gathered by that age weighed too heavy and he freaked out. There's a fine line (2 years) between abandonment and ... not-abandonment. Anyway, Layla and I weighed in for backing vocals (with much abandonment because it was such a fun track) and it was done.

Against my religion I did a bit of cutting and shifting post recording to line all the vocals up, but we all had a gas, and as Dan says, we've collectively started a new genre. But what's it called?


Spielberg at college. Greg's track was also a lot of fun. All the organ, swish and pizzazz of a lot of music I feel naturally inclined to, namely Georgie Fame. Slightly strapped for time due to [yawn] work, I had to create something I was happy with, that I thought would do Greg's track justice (I was late to start due to my own stupidity of recording over the wrong track to start with), so I needed to hook onto a formula to guide the writing process.

Moody's Mood For Love. There I go ... name checking a Fame track. I can't forget Greg telling me that Georgie wrote the lyrics for Moody's Mood For Love by listening to the sax line, and then writing words to fit. So I listened to Greg's track, sketched out dashes on a piece of paper to represent the syllables ... and then filled in the blanks. SKAT.

I'm sure I could have done something more meaningful but I really enjoyed trying a new technique for lyric writing and my sincere apologies for the recording quality. I wanted to go with the flow and the lyrics came pretty fast, and I didn't want to hold back the performance. The compression and EQ for the vox was all done hardware side on the Focusrite strip so not much room for fine tuning in post.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What, no menthol?

For some reason, Dan Waldkirch channeled Ennio-Morricone-western-style music for his backing track about the amazing Dennis Nedry from Spielberg's Jurassic Park which was actually a great if unexpected choice for that character! When I started writing and singing my vocals, I found myself randomly affecting an Antonio Banderas voice - this made me laugh, so I ramped up the accent. After a few days I listened to the mix and realized that the lyrics are totally unintelligible, and sound like I'm singing in Portuguese! That made me laugh even more, so I left it! Its fun to try and decipher what I'm saying - you'll never guess it!
Jim's backing track for Gremlins was more challenging - at first the track reminded me of 'Screamadelica'-era Primal Scream, and so I thought about doing a fey Bobby Gilliespie impression, but when I started writing, I found that I needed to sing over the lush female backing vocals in the track and ended up with a sort of kinky Disco-funk approach and stupid lyrics. Re-watching Gremlins wasn't much fun though, and gave me almost no inspiration apart from the title/chorus 'Bright lights, bright lights' which is what Gizmo says when he's accidentally exposed! I did discover, however, that Gremlins is a Christmas movie!
I also had a trip down memory lane writing lyrics with Kelly for Mike Webber's lovely backing track about Dawson Leary (from 'Dawson's Creek') whose personal philosophy is closely linked to Spielberg's catalog of movies. A brush-up on Wikipedia reminded me of the key story-lines, which I had managed to conglomerate with 'The O.C' and a few other teen-dramas!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mola + Godlights

I finished my tracks! I got to work with two great pieces -- those of Barney and Tim.

For the Godlights track, I immediately recognized the opportunity to do a big choir, which I always love doing but haven't done in a while. I believe I ended up with 28 vocal tracks, singing 7 or 8 separate lines. The chords were so simple I thought I should have an almost haiku-like lyric. Here's what I came up with, a minute or two after hearing the song.

Light of God
Light of Steve
Either way
I believe in you.

I think it's sort of cryptic yet positive. I like it.

Mola Ram was a TON of fun and it's really crazy. Usually I try to avoid following the rhythm of the instruments for IML tracks, as I think most people consider their backing tracks "accompaniments" and not really a main melody. But I really couldn't resist with this one, as the first few lyrics just came right away. It's all really fast, and I tried to give it a Mr. Bungle vibe where there's no dead space in between lines. Unfortunately the lyrics aren't very understandable if you don't read them first, but I think that's fine. Turned into a sort of progressive hardcore punk song. Really happy with that one.

Anyways, I guess my work is done -- can't wait to hear the rest, I think this album will be deliciously weird!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tootles (I looked it up. It's with a 't')

I've completed my song track assignment. I've had to turn it in early as I'll be on holiday for the next two weeks. It was a difficult brief, but I think I've managed to do justice to the style of the backing track. I can't really think of a better name for this track than "Tootles", so I suppose I should just leave it at that. I've never seen the film Hook and never really cared to, but I did find a YouTube video of the famous (I suppose) scene where Peter hands Tootles his lost marbles and in his joy (and with the help of some fairy dust) he is able to fly out the window to return to Neverland.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Last Minute Change!

I was holding out on choosing a 'Jaws' theme because I thought it would be a popular choice, but as no-one's gone for it, I'm changing my 3rd backing track from 'Spielberg Fashion' to 'Jaws Horror Head'. You know what I'm talking about - the bit where Roy Scheider dives down and finds that sunken boat - he's just a-pokin' around and AAAAAARRGHHH!!! - a horror head pops out!!! Scariest scene ever. Apparently Spielberg shot it himself (with his own money) because there wasn't enough popcorn flying after the test previews!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

May Marcus come in?

Sorry to be a late sod. I've brought Marcus Brody, Indiana's long standing friend and comrade, to the party. Just love him. The song morphed out of control during the recording process, so I am not sure how well this now represents him. Close your eyes. Can you see/feel him?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Duelling scouts

I've got two tracks just about finished. The first track is based on the film Duel, as I've said before. It is very heavy and quite unconventional. I like it, but I don't envy the person who gets it as a song.

The second piece is much more straight forward. I recorded an acoustic guitar idea that I've had lying around for a while. Without this project it probably wouldn't have seen daylight. It is very pretty (I think). I'd had the art of song writing in mind, but the feel is a bit more rural and calm than anything I've seen Spielberg do, so I've changed the subject to Boy Scouts. Spielberg got into film making when he borrowed his dad's movie camera at the age of twelve to complete his first film for a Boy Scouts photography merit badge. Awesome. The feel of the second piece fits this perfectly. The merit badge and photography in general are also suitable.

Maybe I'll try for a third...