The big wedding broadcast during the Grammy Awards last weekend was a momentous occasion. The cultural significance of the event was deeply felt by all of us in the stadium that night and by the millions who were watching. I was humbled to be a part of it. Music has always been a catalyst for political change and I hope to hear more voices knocking down the remaining barriers to marriage equality.
I had the good fortune of meeting Jocelyn Alice of the Calgary-based songwriting duo jocelyn & lisa at an LA music event last year. Jocelyn asked if I’d like to remix a new song that they had just finished recording called “Open Wide.” Between Jocelyn’s soulful vocals and Lisa’s solid piano work, I thought it was beautiful and intimate. I wanted to create a tightly restrained remix that highlighted Jocelyn’s voice and the lyrics while slowly building up and exploding into something fierce. I held back on adding any unnecessary elements and went for a pure emotional ride.
Right about the time when I was finishing up the remix, I met filmmaker Emmeline Kim and choreographer Ania Catherine through my work with the Downtown Film Festival LA. They told me they were looking for a new song to shoot a short film music video. After listening to my remix, they fell in love with jocelyn & lisa and their inspiration for the video concept soon flowed. You can read Emmeline and Ania’s artist statements for the video here.
The short film music video became an official selection of the 2014 BFI London LGBT Film Festival, the 2014 Ontario London Lesbian Film Festival and the 2014 InsideOut Toronto LGBT Film Festival. We’re developing plans for releasing the “Open Wide” remix to a wider audience. It has been an honor working and collaborating with these four amazingly talented young women on this unique and passionate project. I can’t wait to see what they cook up next.
Here’s the video by Emmeline & Ania set to my remix, as well as the original version of “Open Wide” by jocelyn & lisa:
A friend and Boyfriend Academy fan had taken a few trips to Australia and came home raving about this singer-songwriter she met in Sydney by the name of Anikiko. She heard Anikiko was going to be in LA and Nashville for a few weeks so she put her in touch with me and we immediately clicked. Our first song that we started co-writing together, “Light Years,” flowed effortlessly. We finished writing and recording it at separate studios with her in Sydney and myself in LA. Here’s a studio preview of “Light Years” slated for release in November. Sign up on Anikiko’s mailing list to find out more and to receive a special invite to the release!
The incredible video footage released by NASA always inspires me. During the shuttle missions, NASA mounted cameras to the rocket boosters which provided a vertigo-inducing view of blasting off into space and falling all the way back to Earth. I had just finished my remix of Barry Manilow’s “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right” when I first saw the video footage from one of the Discovery shuttle’s missions. Each rocket booster had two cameras attached, one facing down and one facing up, for a total of four camera angles. I synchronized the videos in a multi-cam FCP project using the yellow timecode burned into the corner of the image and edited it into a music video for my Manilow remix.
I edited another amazing NASA video for my remix of Janis Joplin’s “Move Over.” The Transit of Venus in front of the Sun is one of only two such planetary crossings — the other being the Transit of Mercury — that are visible from Earth. While transits of Mercury occur thirteen times each century, Venus transits the Sun only twice per century. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the remarkable event on June 5, 2012 with it’s Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, an instrument designed to study the oscillations and magnetic field of the solar surface. The video images were constructed from several wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light and a portion of the visible spectrum. The red colored sun is the 304 angstrom ultraviolet, the golden colored sun is 171 angstrom, the magenta sun is 1700 angstrom, and the orange sun is filtered visible light. 304 and 171 show the atmosphere of the sun, which does not appear in the visible part of the spectrum. The small black disc that passes horizontally through the video is our neighboring planet, Venus.
The year came to an end with a bang. Metro Newspapers launched a new music festival called the Silicon Valley Sound eXperience — now known as the expanded C2SV: Create Converge Silicon Valley music and tech conference — and in their inaugural Silicon Valley Music Awards competition, their jury awarded me as the Best Electronic Artist of 2012! Just a few weeks later, RAW San Jose audience voters chose me as Best Performing Artist of 2012! Thanks to Metro Newspapers and RAW San Jose for the esteemed honors.
I had made great connections in Los Angeles over the past few years of monthly trips and decided it was time to take the next step for my career. I relocated to LA during Thanksgiving week and began to settle into my new home in Echo Park. I’ll always have a spot in my heart for San Jose and the entire San Francisco Bay Area, the place I called home for the past 10 years. But now, it’s time for the next chapter…
I’m playing a live electronic audiovisual set at the RAW Ensemble show on Thursday, September 27 at Beso Club in downtown San Jose. It’s going to be a jam-packed night of some of the best new local art, music, film and fashion in the South Bay. In addition to live music by Boyfriend Academy, Margaret The King and Heroes At Gunpoint, there will also be live body painting, performance art and exhibitions by more than a dozen local artists, short film screenings by local filmmakers and a fashion show featuring local designers and stylists. Check out the promo video below for the full rundown and this preview article from Metro. Advance tickets are highly recommended for this one-night-only special event.
Rufus Wainwright’s unique vocal melody for his song “Bitter Tears” inspired me to produce this glitch house remix. His original song has such a drugged-out baroque feel and I wanted my remix to be just as moody. I had a little fun with the lyric, “Choking on my bitter tears,” transforming it into a new melody and turning it into a catchy refrain of its own. For the breakdowns, I created several new synthesizer sounds and experimented with some rhythmic slicing and glitch effects on the vocals.
For my remix of K’naan ft. Nas – “Nothing to Lose,” I wanted to make a fusion remix that crossed genre lines. Something that kicks off with a rocking, hand-clapping hook before mellowing out with a laid-back hip-hop verse and then exploding into a drum & bass style chorus.
I cranked up the heat and got busy producing remixes this winter. My initial approach to remixing was somewhat non-traditional. Instead of chopping it up and dropping it over a beat, I tried to honor the integrity of the original song structure while creating an entirely different interpretation and expression of the song. Usually this means leaving the vocals relatively intact (with some creative embellishments) and creating from the ground up a new song. It’s kind of similar to my process for film scoring, where the vocals are the film and dialogue and the music is the underscore. I also try to isolate and play with what I think is the most unique or interesting ingredient from the original song, whether it’s a guitar lick or a percussive sound that inspires me as a jumping off point.
I’ve been a fan of Theophilus London for a while now. I started writing with a signature bass line in mind but I wanted the song to be more downtempo with a dubtronica gangsta feel. I kept parts of the guitar but heavily processed the guitar stem for the last part of the song to the point where it started to sound more like a swooping synthesizer effect.
When I first heard Jon Foreman’s vocals for Switchfoot’s “Afterlife,” the tonality and lyrics reminded me of the ’80s style of music popularized by Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. I was hearing a dark electro New Wave drum and synth atmosphere and immediately started assembling my sound palette and composing the drum, bass and synth lines. The sonic ingredient from the original song that stood out the most to me was the percussive whack of a drum stick against the side of something metallic. With a bit of reverb judiciously applied, it took on the nature of something you might hear in a Peter Bjorn and John album.
Beyoncé’s vocals are so full and powerful, I found it challenging to create a wall of sound that felt right with her sound. My goal was to create a signature bass line in the tech house style of Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” as a fun counterpoint against the vocal melody.