This second episode of “Where’d You Dig Up That Old Fossil?” takes us back to, I think, 1996. The assignment: music for a boring talking-heads-testimonial industrial video that’s about 15 minutes long. Oh, and can we have it in two days? And for almost no money? That’d be great, thanks!
I didn’t have enough on my reel that I could say no. The good news was it didn’t need a score so much as a music bed, which meant that I could write three or four minutes, then loop and layer and that would pretty much be that.
Who likes smooth jazz? You do. And so did the client. So that’s what I wrote, using my old Alesis QS8 keyboard (which you can see fossilized in the picture above) and DM5 drum machine. The best part was that I got to work with one of my favorite guitarists and a Portland jazz legend, Dan Balmer. I remember recording and mixing the music at Rex Recording in Portland. Is that place still there?
The music sure sounds dated — especially the samples — but it brings back good memories. Here’s a snippet of it, including Dan’s solo work.
Morsel #19: Skydiving and Math – In this retro-styled animation I scored for abcmouse.com, skydivers fly in formation, while solving math problems. If that had been me skydiving, the only problem I’d be trying to solve is how to not poop my pants. Also, this features the very talented Fino Roverato on guitar.
I took a trip back into my musical archives recently. It’s fun, and sometimes horrifying, to listen to things I wrote or was otherwise involved in producing – some of it goes back 20 years or more. And now I want to share that fun/horror with you, in a series I’m calling, “Where’d You Dig Up That Old Fossil?” The first episode: Pickled Beets.
Back in the ’90s, my friend Chris Wilson and I wrote a song called “Pickled Beets,” a ridiculous twangy tune that quickly became one of our favorites to play live, in our band The Underhills.
A year or so later, when I needed music to fill out my meager advertising reel, I re-purposed “Pickled Beets” into a fake jingle. It’s hard to believe that in spite of its awful MIDI-fied sound and production value, it helped me land a big job composing country spots for Hardee’s. But it did.
So the moral of the story: You should put only your very best stuff on your demo reel. Plus one crappy-sounding jingle about round vegetables.
Morsel #18 – Running: I wrote this for a TV spot that featured a jogger out for a pre-dawn run in the city. Since I have little to no experience with that sort of insanity – and intend to keep it that way – composing this music was a true test of my imagination.
Morsel #17 – The Ultimate Hurt/Omelette: Nothing shakes off those mid-winter doldrums like an omelette. For Hardee’s, recorded in Nashville, lyrics by Austin Howe, produced by Cathy Curran, who is also my sister.
Ever have one of those times where you get up in the morning and throughout the day you keep reminding yourself to do something and then not doing it and then suddenly it’s the next day and the same thing happens and before you know it it’s been two years and you still haven’t done the thing you were supposed to do? Well, that happened. In between composing music and working on a new album, postings to this site were relegated so far to the back burner, they fell off and into that dark, mysterious area behind the stove where nobody ever looks, until you decide to paint the kitchen or something, then you pull the stove out and god knows what you’re gonna find down there.
Point is, we’re back! And with a new look, new words and a revamp that I hope you enjoy.
Which brings us to the flag of Labrador you see above. The band that my friend David and I founded some 20+ years ago – Chip & Drifty – we’ve been working on an album over the past couple years. We’ve got 11 new songs, many of which we’ve released as EPs over the past year or so. The full album will be released soon. Meantime you can check out the EPs and watch some videos here. You can also listen, right here, to one of my favorite tracks on the album, “Labrador,” which features the swinging upright bass of jazz veteran and my very first music teacher, Tom Wakeling.
Morsel #16 – The Weather Outside Is Frightful: Speaking of that, here’s some animation music I wrote about the science of weather. Happy New Year!
Morsel #15 – All Aboard the Yule Log: Season’s Greetings. Here’s some holiday music I wrote. I hope it conjures the warmest visions of sugarplums, latkes and gingerbread. Also maybe a plate of various tasty cheeses.
I hope you are having a most fantastical holiday season. I realize I’m posting this two days before the end of the world. So maybe this is all for nothing. On the other hand, come Dec. 22, I’ll look pretty darn Nostradamus-ey, foreseeing that nothing was going to happen.
Here’s a little holiday video I made specifically, only, exclusively, and just, for you. Yes. you:
P.S. Thanks to the late Ray Conniff, and to my friend Jason Brandt and his inflatable porch decor.
Actually, that’s the name of the song. “Poetry.” It’s off the new, nearly named album by Chip & Drifty, a band composed of me and David Levine. As I mentioned in the last posting, we recently went busking in the Bay Area. I posted some initial videos of the trip, but this is the first one to feature an entire song. It’s also the first one to feature creepy forest chanting, which is your reward for listening to the whole song.
It’s recorded in a proprietary audio format we call Low-Fidelity, TrebleyPhonic BART-tastic Sound™. There may be some frequencies that only dogs and squirrels can hear. Then again, we’ve always been sort of a niche band.
Here’s the video.
You can visit our website to sign up for email updates and hear some music, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and buy So Fine a Lady on iTunes or from cdbaby.com.