Offbeat: A Resurrection of Crimes Unpaid

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Audio from a film. Watch it here: https://vimeo.com/292243431

Features new music from John Barner. Stream and buy the record here: https://americanresiduerecords.bandcamp.com/album/darker-places

Tape Extracts:

I used to dream satisfaction in quiet commerce.

Past experiences made new.

Wandering the aisles - no one there.

Belief a strange buzz - energy left over from all that's typical.

 

I'd rarely buy.

Just look. Touch.

 

Comfort.

Comfort.

Offbeat: Earlid - Under the Skin

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Erasure is violence. Ever, always, being justified: “The director said she made the changes so as ‘not [to] show them.'”

Sun Yung Shin is the voice in the piece. She is a writer and educator living in Minneapolis where she co-directs the community organization Poetry Asylum with poet Su Hwang. When The Beguiled was released in 2017, she was part of a conversation about the whitewashing of its narrative and the violence of erasure that is justified everyday.

The 1966 novel had a black female slave as a supporting character, whom director Sofia Coppola removed from the film; and for a biracial character from the novel, she cast white actress Kirsten Dunst.

This piece was originally produced for Earlid as part of their 2018 Liminal Sounds exhibit Skin Rubbed Smooth.

Tape Extracts:

Garrett Tiedemann: Forever there…

Sun Yung Shin: What is complicated about it?

Archive Tape Adult Man: Let’s see if we can explain it. [Fact of communicating] You an I have a coat of armor that protects our bodies from the outside world. It’s our skin.

Archive Tape Young Girl: Who is it?

Archive Tape Adult Man 2: Tissue.

Archive Tape Adult Man: But, did you know that you really have two skins.

Sun Yung Shin: Probably in this…moment. The hatred of women is surging. Certainly the discourse of misogyny seems really prevalent with our new administration unleashing and giving people permission.

Archive Tape Young Girl: What?

Archive Tape Adult Man 2: Is one of the most deadly and elusive enemies ever faced by man.

Archive Tape Adult Man: Body juices flow and withdrawn into the head. Never to be seen or used again.

Sun Yung Shin: So I think, you know, Sofia Coppola is at the intersection of all these things that people are interested in. You know, the Coppola cinematic inheretance. Here being a young, wealthy, beautiful woman. Her making films that have been reasonably successful that have women protagonists. And then this film, at a time when we are increasingly or maybe the same as ever divided on whether racism exists or is morally right; for her to take on this civil war, post-civil war film and people it only with white women, make them what’s interesting in their sexual intrigues and competition and whatever else is cooking in this film. But, erasing black women’s bodies, erasing black labor, erasing the cause of the war, erasing what enabled these white women to live as white women - keep their dresses clean and all that - does seem appalling to me, it’s really truly appalling to me and I got very upset about it.

Archive Tape Young Boy: Alright!

Offbeat: Stay Wild Child (2017 Radio Race)

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This Offbeat episode was produced for the KCRW 2017 Radio Race. The theme was Down With Whatever and included a special bonus clip of David Bowie performing for special consideration. Everything had to be recorded and mixed within 24-hours.

Tape Extracts: 

Unnamed Child: So, what I am making here is a little family.

Garrett Tiedemann (Narration): Thinking is difficult. Getting up is difficult. Planning is difficult.

This morning I left the record player on mistakenly. The old analog hum lingered in time as I got my kids' lunch together. Made me remember what it was like before being a parent. Made me remember my wife sleeping in. Me reading. Time. The air not doing anything.

Instead of taking an idea and planning it out, grabbing a microphone, and going outside; I gave a microphone to a child, to wander around with, carry it. An identity from a child who cannot speaking. Chasing after a child who can. 

Garrett (to unnamed child): You're making a family? What are we going to do with the family once you finish coloring them in?

Child: Go to the park!

 Garrett (Narration): Ideas over product. Ideas over thought excursion. As I just let the recorder go. 

I have this book. It's, in the closest sense, my book. Because they are notes. They are notes that I write as I'm making things, writing things, coming up with ideas. And from time to time I go back through them. Like now when I don't have any idea what I'm doing. Grabbing at words. Trying to screw things together. And when you do that, you're not only taking something and making something anew, but you're reengaging with an idea from a past time. Trying to get a sense of what it was, trying to see its connections to the rest of the page. How a thought got put down and forgotten. How a thought became a thought. Became something obliged to exist.

It's an idea I want to live with, it's an idea I want to store; contain and have as a moment in time. 

I did what the instructions said. We went out, did our day, a certain day in the life. I had this idea for a story about a day in the life of living with children. Being a part of children. Being enrapt in the abstraction and curiosity and experimentalism of sound that is children. Children naturally are an orchestra billowing out at the edges.

It's the thing that drives some people nuts and it's the thing that's most stimulating; a house is dead when your children are gone. There is no sound like their presence or their absence. 

Offbeat: These Fair Possessions of Democracy

America is less. Resist.

Tape Extracts:

Orson Welles: To be born free is to be born in debt. To live in freedom without fighting slavery is to profiteer. My plane last night I flew over some parts of our republic where American citizenship is a luxury beyond the means of the majority. I rode comfortably in my plane above a sovereign state or two where fellow countrymen of ours can't vote without the privilege of cash. Surely my right to having more than enough is cancelled if I don't use that more to help those who have less.

My subject today is the question of moral indebtedness. So I'd like to acknowledge the debt that goes with ownership. I believe, and this has very much to do with my own notion of freedom, I believe I owe the profit I make to the people I make it from. Any public man owes his position to the public. That's what I mean when I say I am your obedient servant. It's a debt payable in service of the highest efforts of the debtor. The extension of this moral argument insists that no man owns anything outright since he owns it rent free.

A wedding never bought a wife and the devotion of his child is no man's for the mere begetting. We must each day earn what we own. A healthy man owes to the sick all that he can do for them. An educated man owes to the ignorant all that he can do for them. A free man owes to the world slaves all that he can do for them. And what is to be done is more, much more than good works, Christmas baskets, bonuses and tips, and bread and circuses.

There is only one thing to be done with slaves: free them. If we can't die on behalf of progress we can live for it. Progress we Americans take to mean a fuller realization of democracy, the measure of progress as we understand it is the measure of equality and joy by all men. We can do something about that. 

If we waste that gift we won't have anywhere to hide from the indignation of history.

I want to say this: the morality of the auction block is out of date. There is no room in the American century for Jim Crow. The Times urge new militancy upon the Democratic attitude. Tomorrow's democracy discriminates against discrimination. It's charter won't include the freedom to end freedom.

I come with a call for action. American law forbids a man the right to take away another's right. It must be law that groups of men can't use the machinery of our Republic to limit the rights of other groups. That the vote for instance can't be used to take away the vote. It's in the people's power to see to it that what makes lynchings and starts wars is dealt with. In a people's world the incurable racist has no rights. He must be deprived of influence in a people's government, he must be segregated as he himself would segregate. Our liberty has every day to be safe from marauders whose greed is for all things possessed by the people. Care of these possessions is the hope of life on this planet. They are living things they grow. These fair possessions of democracy. And nothing, but death can stop that growth. 

Let the yearners for the past, the willfully childish, learn now the facts of life. The first of which is the fact of that growth. In our hemisphere the growing has begun, but only just begun. America can write her name across this century and so she will if we the people brown and black and red rise now to the great occasion of our brotherhood. It will take courage. It calls for the doing of great deeds, which means the dreaming of great dreams. Giving the world back to its inhabitants is too big a job for the merely practical. The architects of freedom are always capable of hope. The lawmakers of true democracy are true believers, they believe quite simply in the people in all of them.

Be of good heart. The fight is worth it. But, what will be here when we are gone. America is the less. 

Offbeat: Sounds of La La Land

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Part of this year's more diversified Academy Award nominations, Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan have been nominated for Best Sound Editing for La LA Land; becoming the first all-female team nominated in the category (Ai-Ling is also nominated for Best Sound Mixing along with Andy Nelson and Steve A. Morrow). As sound supervisors and designers on the project, their job was to lead the teams that brought every sound you hear. With a heavy emphasis on using production sound versus pre-recorded mixes of music; the performances in the film often feel more organic and real, not so decentered from the overall sound of the narrative as is customary with the genre. This approach informs every step of the audio process; a fine balance of imaginary realism, with key components of audio that connect to the makeup of our everyday living.

Tape Extracts:

Taken from the print version of this piece, which appeared on YourClassical.

Morgan: Ai-Ling and I were both working on a film by Cameron Crowe called We Bought a Zoo. I was working at Fox and I was brought onto the show by one of the mixers, Doug Hemphill, who had worked with her and thought she'd be perfect as a sound designer for the film. I was already supposed to be the sound supervisor on it and I was going to supervise with another person, but [that other person] couldn't do it. So as we were working really well together, I asked her if she wanted to supervise it with me and she said yes — so that was the first time we worked together as a sound supervising team. Since then we've done four [including] La-La Land, and now we're also working on Battle of the Sexes, which is about the Billie Jean King versus Bobby Riggs tennis match.

Could you briefly explain the difference between a supervising sound editor and the distinctions that get broken down in the final credits?

Lee: I would think a supervisor would have more of a direct relationship with the filmmakers: going to meet with them to discuss ideas to see how the sound can help with the storytelling and to try to take everyone's ideas, including your own, and work on it to make it come to fruition. Typically in a sound editorial department for features it's composed by a team of sound editors; mainly broken up into dialogue, ADR [dialogue re-recorded for better sound quality], effects, and Foley. So, the sound supervisor would then coordinate with sound editors to try to achieve the vision of the filmmakers — and sometimes the sound supervisor also edits the sounds together or gathers everyone's work together to present it.

How does your collaboration work?

Morgan: Usually when we supervise together I focus on dialogue and ADR — all the spoken words, for the most part — and Ai-Ling deals with sound design, sound effects, backgrounds. Then there's usually a Foley person or a Foley supervisor, but she supervises that Foley supervisor to tell him what the director wants because the first thing we do is meet with the director and picture editor and we have a spotting session and we play the whole movie and take notes and they give us their vision of how it should sound.

So, what were your first thoughts when you saw La La Land?

Lee: You could tell, even early on, with how it's shot, the directions, the choices that [director] Damien [Chazelle] made, and all the beautiful original music that it was going to be a really beautiful, personal movie. It's a very brave choice for Damien.

Do you approach a film like this any differently than, say, Planet of the Apes, or any of the big-budget superhero films you've done? Is the process any different?

Morgan: Well, I think any time we approach a film and start working on a film you have to think okay, what is the style of the film? What is, as you said, the palette? What is the mood of the film? The textures of the film? And we do the sound work according to that.

In the case of La La Land, because [Chazelle] made it very clear that he wanted the sound to be very naturalistic and then had to seamlessly transition into the musical numbers, on my side, because I was doing dialogue and ADR, I tried really hard to use all the production sound that was recorded with the images and not replace a lot of it with ADR and dubbing — because I knew that he didn't want that, he wanted to sound real. Even with the singing there were several places where the singing was done live on set, for the more emotional numbers like her audition number at the end.

I did cover some of that in ADR, but sometimes I would just use a word or a syllable so that I could keep as much of the production as possible. But, on other movies, like Planet of the Apes or an action film, you know they're going to use a lot of ADR and you cover it and you record all the ADR and you try to get it in the movie. But, in this case I held back — I really tried to make all the production [dialogue] work and [with] Andy Nelson we decided we can make this production work, even though it sounds really noisy. We're just going to make it work and maybe sprinkle in a couple of words of ADR. That helped anchor the film and keep it in reality until it took flight and went into a musical fantasy world.

It really did. It didn't feel separated out like some musicals can — you get that feeling of the space in the room not being manufactured.

Lee: They wanted to make sure the music doesn't sound too Broadway-ish, so having a live recording helps ground it too.

Did it change how you worked, rather than if you had everything contained from studio recordings?

Morgan: Certain things. For example, the duet number where they're dancing overlooking Los Angeles, the first dance they have together where she's wearing the yellow dress; that duet goes from production speaking and there of course is background sounds, the noises of Los Angeles.

Ai-Ling put more backgrounds on it and then it transitions into the musical, but I don't know if it's Ryan Gosling's voice or the way it was recorded (possibly), but the quality of his [studio-recorded] voice was very similar to the quality of the production, and so it was this gradual transition. So, on my side I had to make a background fill of the noisy background that was with the dialogue. And we continue that over the transition to the music, and Ai-Ling did the same thing with her sound effects.

Lee: Yeah, basically for that scene I would maintain the background, the city sounds, and insects through their singing and as the song goes they slowly taper down so that the music would take more precedent. So, we established Foley cloth movement, back movement, footsteps, hand grabbing the lamppost, and stuff like that that helps ground them rather than just prerecorded singing voices. The Foley helps make it feel like it's a live recording, that they're really singing there.

How do you pinpoint those moments?

Lee: With a musical you have to be very selective. Even when you edit these Foley, you have to be really careful to make sure they are in rhythm to the music rather than too much in sync sometimes because your eyes can fool you because your brain just connects to the rhythm rather than what you see and sync sometimes. And, of course the pitch and tone of the sound, it should not clash with the music. Otherwise either they just get lost in [the music] or just poke out like a sore thumb.

For the opening number, even though every so often the dancers would be walking around while dancing, we were careful not to play all of the [footsteps] all the time, it's only used to accentuate the music or a particular move that you see. And Damien is very specific about that. He's very meticulous, down to almost an exact science — so even though sometimes, like in the middle of the traffic song, a group of them are dancing on the cars, we did not play that because sometimes those sounds may overpower the music. For those I opt not to play up the stomps at all, but later on in the traffic song when you see the wide shot of all the dancers on top of the cars, for that area I played some of their stomping and dancing on the car roofs.

That's after they introduce the percussion band in the truck, right? Which kind of justifies a shift in the sound.

Lee: Yes, yes. So you know, things like that — or even like the crowd, suddenly you hear them cheering and clapping in rhythm to the music. Little moments like that helps ground it and actually makes it more fun on the track.

Is working with someone who has that sort of sensibility you talked about, where he's really specific on what the sound is going to do, different than someone who maybe doesn't seem to really know how to talk about it?

Morgan: Sure, because sometimes you work with directors who will give you some notes but they're not very specific. And then it's up to you to bring them something, and then once there's something in front of them they can bounce off of what you've shown them or played for them and then they give you notes on that and you build from there. But with Damien...I mean, there was a really nice give-and-take, but he started off every scene and told us what he wanted. Then it would evolve, but we would usually start with that.

Lee: He would tell us what he would like to have, his vision. In the opening sequence, for example, he wants to slowly build up the horns and the car radio, built into this cacophony of sound, real sounds, and then through that the musical number comes in. So he would say "I want to make sure people know it's in a traffic jam. The cars are standing still," so he doesn't want to hear any sounds of cars driving by, just cars idling, not any kind of moving since we were trying to sell through a soundscape to the audience that we are in a traffic jam in Los Angeles without seeing it visually until later on when the camera pans down to the individual cars.

From the very beginning, when you introduced Mia and Sebastian you articulated who they were and who they were going to be through their sounds so she's driving a Prius, very clean and sort of non-disruptive — whereas he's driving an old car that's loud and he's rewinding tape and making all these sort of noises until he honks at her and it's like that archetypes how they're going to come together. Was that the forethought going into it, or was it that just worked for the opening?

Morgan: I'm sure that that's how Damien wrote the characters. It's funny, I never thought of it 'til now, but when you described it I thought, yes, Sebastian's very analog and she's a little more modern and digital even though they're both dreamers and they both love old Hollywood. He loves jazz and she loves old Hollywood but he's a very analog character.

Lee: Thinking about the dinner fight scene, though, and Damien having such a good concept and idea about music and rhythm...you could even tell in his dialogue scenes, such as this dinner scene, that there's rhythm between Sebastian and Mia: how they paced that fight, the dialogue between them, and how Damien liked to use the production almost like production Foley props, like all the cutlery sounds or the drinking in between the lines to help accentuate the rhythm of that scene. It's not like obvious that it's music, but in the way it has this musical rhythm in there too.

Morgan: The thing I love about that scene is I have watched that scene hundreds of times, maybe, and I never ever notice exactly when the music goes away because I get so sucked into the argument every time, but then at a certain point you realize the music has stopped. But for me, I don't hear it when it stops. I realize "oh my gosh, the music stopped." And I think when Ai-Ling brought in the sound of the record, the record hitting those grooves...

Lee: Oh, yeah, the hiss.

Morgan: It doesn't start right away when the music stops. It starts later on.

Lee: Yeah, so you have this tense silence, moment of silence, between the two of them. And then you hear the hiss of the record coming in.

I realize films today have a lot of music in them, but did it feel like this had more music than you're used to working with, and did that complicate it at all, or since it was a musical was it kind of like "nope, this is the world"? Morgan: Yeah, I don't feel like it had more. It's funny because especially when you work on some of these bigger action movies, they have so much music in them and often when we're at the final mix on movies like that, inevitably someone, one of the producers or the director, says what if we took that cue out and we took that cue out. But in La La Landit was different because it was all mapped out ahead of time and maybe because the music was so integral to the story, I didn't feel like there was more music than usual. I felt like the music...

Lee: ...was just such a big part of the story.

Morgan: It was very organic. It's the best. It really is the best-case scenario in terms of doing sound for a film when it's organic like that and it's all of one piece and everything goes together so well.

Offbeat: Life (2016 KCRW RadioRace)

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This piece was produced by The White Whale as part of The 24-Hour Radio Race from KCRW's Independent Producer Project. Features the voice of Don Chambers, a musician from Athens, GA. For more information on his work visit http://www.donchambersmusic.com/

Tape Extracts:

Everybody was trying to imitate everybody else because there was a set rule of this is how we're going to do this.

(narration from performance film) I went to the office that day only to see a sign tacked to the door. I was disappointed. I was confused, bewildered. So turned to the only man in town who I thought could help.

If you can get your ego out of the way and let it take on its own life then I think copy and imitation, I'm not afraid of those. You're looking for the ghost in the machine.

It started off with a film of Disneyworld. Like these were my personal films of my childhood in Disneyworld. At some point I had a friend of mine get up and give a lecture on why the Beatles ruined Rock and Roll. And then Pete sits back down and I was like "now ladies and gentlemen, Pete" and another guy came up dressed exactly like him, who does a good imitation of him, did the speech in an exaggerated form of what they'd just seen. This guy's good though, this guy, Curtis, my friend Curtis. 

The one year I was working at the bar and I stepped outside the bar and looked up the street and there was Vic Chesnutt on Halloween night, rolling down the street in his wheelchair with this acoustic guitar in his lap.

(narration from performance film) I was recently hired to copy the Encyclopedia Britannica. 

And it was Curtis doing Vic who he could do, he could do Vic Chesnutt better than Vic Chesnutt. Later that week they played a show. Curtis came out, introduced as Vic, Curtis came out and did a Vic song and then like halfway through the song Vic comes back with ropes on him as if he'd been tied up in the back. And Vic comes out and they end up doing the song together, but I swear Curtis' version of Vic was, what I remember was Curtis' version. 

(narration from performance film) Everyday was the same, and it suited me well.

I definitely am a strong believer in stealing. I'm a strong believer in trying to copy something as exactly as you can and when you go back and compare it to the original thing, and the part that didn't quite get that original thing, that part of it is you. I think borrowing and stealing, pull from wherever you can pull from. I think copying and imitation is a little tricky because copying is more of what I am talking about. 

I don't know if you've listened to the book on tape of Keith Richards' story, 'Life'. That's a really interesting book on tape. It starts off with a professional actor, British guy, reading Keith Richards' story. Then, about eight chapters in, Keith Richards reads a chapter of his own story. And Keith Richards doesn't sound nearly as Keith Richards-ish as the guy who was just doing it. I kinda wanna know who that is.

 Everybody is borrowing from somebody else constantly. You can't help it. It's part of being alive. 

 

Offbeat with Heather McIntosh

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Heather McIntosh talks about her upbringing and what choices brought her to work on the films Z for Zachariah and Compliance, cornerstones of her evolution and increasing prominence in the musical communities she lives. This piece was produced by Garrett D. Tiedemann. Music was by Heather McIntosh and Garrett D. Tiedemann. To learn more about Heather's work visit: http://www.heathermcintosh.com/

Offbeat with Brian Reitzell

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Brian Reitzell talks about his work on the show Hannibal and what went into the 3rd and (as of now) final season. Find his music for seasons 1-3 wherever you buy and listen to music. This piece was produced by Garrett D. Tiedemann. Music was by Garrett D. Tiedemann and This Line. To hear more from This Line visit American Residue Records.

Offbeat: What is Alpha 1?

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What is Alpha-1? was originally produced in the Spring of 2015 for the Third Coast International Audio Festival ShortDocs Challenge. The story was trying to provide a small glimpse at the personal experience of the disease, which is still widely unknown to the masses. It is being released via The White Whale in prep for a collaborative episode with the podcast ARRVLS that will go further in depth with the experience of living with the genetics. Look for the ARRVLS episode next week.

Find the original post in the Third Coast library: http://www.thirdcoastfestival.org/library/1711-what-is-alpha-1

Aplha-1 is a genetic condition passed from parents to their children that may result in serious lung disease in adults and/or liver disease at any age.

For more information visit: http://www.alpha1.org/

Offbeat: Waiting for Charon

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"Waiting for Charon" was produced by Garrett D. Tiedemann for The Sarahs' Very Very Short, Short Stories Contest. The challenge was to create a 2-3 minute audio fiction piece inspired by one of 3 sentences. This piece was inspired by Mary Morris' sentence: “The Gem sisters slept in the order in which they were born.” It was mixed, edited, and scored by Garrett D. Tiedemann.

Tape Extracts:

On this as we pass.

On this as we pass.

On this as we pass.

As we say goodbye.

We bury them in the mud.

(child singing) In the mud, in the mud, in the mud, in the mud. (Indiscernible) scoop some mud in the mud.

A wise old owl lived in an oak.

The more he saw the less he spoke.

The less he spoke the more he heard.

Why can't we all be like that wise old bird.

(unknown woman) Hello? Yes. Hi, can you hear me ok.

(indiscernible voices and sound)

(unknown woman 2) I didn't say that right. Or did I?

Bury them in the mud.

(indiscernible voices and sound)

(unknown woman 2) Ok, ok, I'm gonna stop because I don't know what else to say right now.

(unknown woman) Hello?

(unknown man) Yes, this is John.

(unknown woman) Yes. Hi, can you hear me ok?

(unknown man) I know why you're calling.

(unknown woman) I can totally hear you.

(unknown man) You did? Oh, you did?

(unknown woman) I think I'm doing everything right. Got a good signal.

(unknown man) I guess that's it then. Thanks anyway.

(unknown woman 2) So, I would just sit and stare out at the trees.