Archive for December, 2015

Film Sountrack: Count To 10

Posted in Film Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2015 by Gideon K


I was initially drawn into working on this film when Fraser said that he had a film and wanted something a bit dark and messed-up for it. I’ve been looking for a film project I could run with a little, and explore some more malevolent and frustrated musical moods. There aren’t always that many projects that will allow you to pour your own kind of diesel on them, so this was right up my street.

Strangely, early on when I was working on the music for this short, I showed the film to some people I know to see what their reactions were and they had no idea what the film was about. That was kind of strange to me as it seemed really obvious. But then I guess Fraser and I have similar voyeuristic sides and so on.

Anyway, this was actually quite a straightforward project to get done. Very simple. Fraser came round one evening and we sat in front of the film and discussed his ideas for what he thought the music could or should do in each bit. I would play around and sketch something musical on the computer with a keyboard, guitar or drum machine, and we would bounce some ideas around. Within about half an hour the basic skeleton for the two songs was done and then I developed them more on my own afterwards.

I have to give thanks to the two drummers who helped me out by playing on the recordings. Koko and PJ. The music would not have come out as well or as interestingly if not for them lending their skills. For one thing, I would have had to rely on drum software and while that has its uses, it is never the same as having a real drummer to record. Thank you both.

 

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Shadows: An Improvised Film Score

Posted in Film Music, Playing Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2015 by Gideon K

 

This was a really fun project to do. A few of us were discussing the idea of doing an improvised score for a silent film or something like that. We wanted to do something experimental. Luckily, our filmmaker friend Fraser Watson was really up for the idea. I like working with Fraser because apart from being very easy to get along with, anytime you throw out a weird idea at him, something that could potentially be really fucked up, he gets quite enthusiastic about it – which I find both amusement and enjoyment from.

We ‘commissioned’ Fraser to make a 3-act 15 minute silent short film, which he did with customary aplomb and speed. Then we got together a few times to ‘rehearse’, which was essentially jamming along as we watched the footage, talking about what worked, what didn’t, and deciding in advance a few parameters to put limitations on so that we could have a starting point. To quote Charles Mingus – “You can’t improvise on nothin’, man”.

I say jamming, which it was, but it was jamming with a purpose. We had the image to guide the feeling and tone we should have been trying to create.

 

The music on the film was recorded at a screening of the film at New River Studios with the 6 of us improvising along with the moving image. Andy Watzik recorded the whole thing on his laptop and after a little mixing, the music was synced to the film.

We were all excited by how it turned out, partly because it was quick and relatively painless to put the whole thing together, but also partly because it was an interesting surprise to see how it turned out. As far as I am aware, none of us had done anything quite like it before

We’re currently looking for more projects to do another improvisation to, so if anyone is interested in collaborating with us, get in touch.

 

The other musicians involved were (and still are presumably):

Stephan Barrett – Piano
Danny Conroy – Keys
Dan Strange – Saxophone
Andy Watts – Trumpet
Andy Watzik – Guitar

And me on bass.

 

 

Film Soundtrack: In Deep

Posted in Creativity, Film Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2015 by Gideon K

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I met Keir at a film networking event. Josh was screening his Japanese Doctor Who film and Keir was screening a short film he had made. We got talking afterwards and he was telling me about this film he had shot all in one day with two actors and a soundguy. When he sent me a copy of the film I pretty much told him that he HAD to let me do the music for it because he wasn’t going to find anyone else who got what his film was about as much as I did.

I gave him some kind of bullshit rap about that which was 100% earnest and genuine, but seems kind of funny in hindsight. Then again, I guess it’s important to work with enthusiastic people.

Initially I had this whole other idea for how to go about the music for the film (quite a good idea that I’m not going to divulge because I plan to use it for another project someday). Partly it was based on metamorphosis and diversity since the film is quite long for a short film. Ultimately the initial idea didn’t work, and all that remained from my first sketches was the main theme that opens the film and reappears later on. I ended up pursuing more of that vibe and all of the pieces for this film have that soft, dreamy quality to them in one way or other. The aim was to capture a feeling of space and softness, mostly.

I tried to match the tone of the film in the sense of having two or more, but mainly two instruments weaving in and out of each other and tentatively touching around each other. Also, because of the relative sparsity of notes, I used a lot of tremolo and reverb on most of the guitars partly to try to accentuate the sense of space, light and softness, but also just because I like the sound of them.

Indulgence is ok if it works.

I started recording the pieces shortly after I had upgraded my recording gear, and it was a lot of fun experimenting with recording at home with some of my amps and outboard effects units rather than using just using plugins. I usually prefer the sound of a nice warm tube amp over a VST plugin if I have the choice.

One of the reasons this project took me a little while to finish, is that I have this ‘problem’ if you will, in that sometimes I can’t quite bring myself to make a piece of music that is only the duration of the bit it is used for – I feel like I have to make the segment or section used into a fully developed piece, even if it’s quite short. I don’t like leaving musical orphans lying around in my wake. So some of these pieces are 5 mins long even though they are only in the film for about 30 secs each. I don’t mind that though, because in the end I think film music should work as music that can be listened to on its own as well as with the film, in much the same way as I think often a good film will still work if you take all of the music out of it.

Sadly I can’t share the video of the film at this point in time. There’s a little trailer here (which I didn’t do the music for). But I will share the full film if/when I get the ok from the director.

In the meantime, all of the music below is in the film.

Film Soundtrack: The Watcher

Posted in Creativity, Film Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2015 by Gideon K

The idea for this film was to create a tense, action/thriller vibe. Although most chase scenes in action films are cliched to say the least, I had to find some way to approach the idea of a kinetic nature of an action sequence in a way that would be interesting to me.

Even though at least 80% of the sounds were computer generated, I like to try and add some ‘organic’ elements into the music to give it another dimension, hence the shaker, bongos, vibraphone etc. Plus I like the juxtaposition. You never want a piece of work to be 100% one thing otherwise it can get stale quickly.

I’m quite happy with how the music came out in the end, especially as I was making it all on a 7-year-old laptop with a cheapo 2-input Alesis soundcard. This was the last score I did before I upgraded my gear. In a perverse sort of way I kind of miss the simplicity of that old setup. Less options = more committing to decisions. (Although just this week I had to use the old system to open an old project, and I’m glad I’ve moved on.)

It’s kind of funny to admit this now, but I am willing to do so because I have very much learned my lesson:

The reason I ended up writing a piece of music that lasted the duration of the entire film was that;

a) The copy of the film file I was sent to work on had no foley or audio track, so I simply assumed I was scoring a silent movie and that the music had to do all the work, and

b) because there was no dialogue in the film it never occurred to me at that point that it might be effective to have some parts without music.

I’m laughing as I type this because of how dumb that sounds.

Honestly, I do sort of know what I’m doing.

PS I would have added a video link of the actual film, but it is not online yet/not released to the public.

 

Film Soundtrack: Japanese Dr Who

Posted in Film Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2015 by Gideon K

 

My multi-talented brother Josh has all sorts of crazy ideas now and then, and usually one way or another I get roped into helping out with them. This was one of his more successful bouts of creative lunacy as the video went viral quite quickly.

Summer 2014 he decided to make a Tokusatsu style parody of Dr Who. He has written a bit about it here, and the short film ended up going somewhat viral when he put it out.

My involvement in the film was (aside from driving to the park to shoot and so on,) was doing the sound and voice recording, getting the right kind of ring modulation for the Dalek sounds, and also doing the music, which is the bit that I’m most proud of.

At this point in time, it is the piece of music I’ve made that has been heard by the largest number of people – not a song I’ve slaved away for months writing, not any band recording I spent ages sculpting the right parts for or anything like that, but a goofy bit of trumpet-based rock n roll.

You have to laugh at the strange universe we live in.

It was all based around that little motif that the trumpets play. I didn’t even write that so much as adapt it from this tune Akie kept humming while we were filming. I made a midi track of everything, and sent it to my mate mate Jon, who kindly recorded real drums from the patterns I had programmed, and then. Andy Watts did the same thing with the trumpet parts. Add bass, keyboards, dash of lemon, and there you go.

 

 

One interesting thing about the sound on the video: Josh was going for the look of an old VHS tape, so to try and match that kind of quality (or lack of), I ran the soundtrack and all the dialogue, sound effects etc onto a worn-out cassette tape and then back into the computer so it had the gooey, squishy sound and hiss. The version of the track on my soundcloud is just the mix from the computer.