Thursday, August 14, 2008

Audio Geek Out...

So recently I've been letting my audio geek flag fly, and finding out there are more like-minded folks around me than I realized. The kind of folks who can sit around talking about different mics and compressors (outboard gear, not just digital plugins), the infinite challenges of EQ, and experiments in mic placement in the recording process while the hours fly by, and not even notice it the passage of time. But if you've popped in here from time to time you've noticed postings of video interviews with sound designers. I've been focusing on film sound designers, and realized I've been neglecting other areas of interest: radio, music, sound art (though I've added a "Sound/Sound Art" links panel to keep track of various sites).

Here are some sites that feature people talking about sound from different perspectives....

1. Bold As Love Vimeo Channel
Rob Fields puts his energy out there to engage people in, evangelize on, and document the subject of black rock in its various permutations. Lucky for us. Recently he put up some new video interviews with three music artists: Monica Arrington (aka Nerdkween), TreZure the Empress, and Maya Azucena. These artists have markedly different sounds, with the quiet, "ethereal," sometimes ambient sounds of singer/songwriter/guitarist and electronic musician Nerdkween; the vocal-based rock funk of TreZure the Empress, who sings with the easy knowledge of her title: she knows she doesn't have to explain; and the rich folk/soul/rock, afro-latin jazz inflected melodies of Azucena with her thoughtful instrumentation and fruitful musical collaborations. (pictured above, Bold As Love's Rob Fields)

2. WNYC - Radiolab: Making Radio Lab
Co-producer and co-host Jad Abumrad calls Radiolab "a science-y and ideas kind of program. Basically what we do is look for big ideas that are percolating up in the sciences, and we try and humanize those ideas..." This is a podcast from 9 November 2007 about the sound design for the show which is unusual for its level of production quality and innovation. Abumrad, the conceptual audio geek behind the show's sonic design, talks about it's technical particulars, while the other co-producer/co-host Robert Krulwich talks about the content editing issues that arise in relation to the sound design. You can also listen to Abumrad talk specifically about the use of music on the show as means to inact the humanizing of those "big ideas" at "Music A Force for Good (and Sometimes Evil)" one of the breakout sessions at Chicago Public Radio's 2005 Third Coast International Audio Festival. Listen to that audio archive here (scroll down to get to Abumrad's session). (pictured above, l-r: Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad; photo: WNYC Radio)

3. EM Cast: Producer/engineer/musician Joel Hamilton
Originally, I only knew about Joel Hamilton from his work with his band The Book of Knots, and then only because of violinist Carla Kihlstedt who I know from her own work. OK, but the thing is that The Book of Knots is made up of people who have worked as studio and performing musicians with Tom Waits, Pere Ubu, Bob Mould, Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, John Vanderslice, They Might Be Giants, Fred Frith. Hamilton has worked with many of those artists, has engineered and or mixed for too many artists to mention including, Ludacris, and Soulive, and is co-owner of the Brooklyn-based Studio G. For a full listing of artists he's worked with click on his name above. (pictured above, The Book of Knots; photo from Obscure music blog)

The Book of Knots started out as a studio project, an opportunity for the musicians, producers and engineers involved to "do everything as wrong as we possibly could in the studio, it'd be our chance to go outside 'session musician' or 'producer' that's doing things the right way, and just start recording the entire band with one microphone in a corner, or three broken microphones on a three piece live in a small living room. Just going way outside the perimeters that people usually want to see in the studio." He also talks about experimenting with throwing out the rules in the mixing process. Definitely an interesting interview, and worth listening to The Book of Knots on their MySpace page to get a sense of the results.

4. Third Coast International Audio Festival//Chicago Public Radio - Conference Archives
The Third Coast International Audio Festival (TCF) conferences started in 2001, and they've archived conference sessions from that year to the present. This is a rich archival offering and worth the time to work your way through, if you have an interest in audio production and radio.

The next TCF Conference is October 9-11, 2008 in Evanston, Illinois, just a little north of Chicago. If you are a young person of color, 18-25, and have an interest in radio and/or sound this year the Conference is offering Minority Student Scholarships the deadline is August 15, 2008. Click on the previous link for complete info on the scholarships, below is the text description without links:

We're pleased to announce that the TCF is offering scholarships to help eight young people, members of ethnic or racial minorities, attend the 2008 Conference. Our hope is to encourage diversity in the radio profession among the up and coming generation of producers. Applicants must be 18-25 years old. Those selected to receive scholarships will have their registration fees waived and will receive a $250 travel stipend. They'll also have the chance to share their work and thoughts on the radio universe, during the session College: A Hotbed of Emerging Producers.

Complete and return the TCF Minority Student Scholarship Application (right-click to download PDF) by August 15, 2008. You will also need to send a work sample and a teacher/mentor reference, both are described in more detail on the application.

The TCF will make scholarship decisions based on application forms, potential abilities demonstrated in required work samples and personal recommendations. We'll let applicants know on a rolling basis if they’ve been selected.

Mail the application, work sample and reference to:
Third Coast Festival
Chicago Public Radio
848 East Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

Or fax it to 312-948-4899.

Please email us with questions, or call 312-948-4652.

(pictured above, shot of the all-important (SM58?) mic from a TCF Conference; pictured right, Public Radio Host and Producer Ira Glass offering a free consultation during the 2007 Conference's Audio Doctor Sessions; photo credit: TCF website)

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