• CH's Comedy Music Hall of Fame airs on IFC tomorrow

    I produced some ridiculous music involving Russia, Canada, and Elvis for CH's Comedy Music Hall of Fame, which airs tomorrow at 10pm on IFC.

    Paul F. Thompkins hosts, and it features comedy music luminaries such as Tenacious D and Weird Al. Here’s a trailer:

    CH wrote the lyrics and I made the music. It involved a whirlwind of recording sessions including (Kazakh-American opera singer!) Timur Bekbosunov, vocalists Igor Komar + Mela Lee, comedy rappers Siobhan Thompson + Pat Cassels, and my trusty accordion (in mid-side, audio nerds!)

    I also recorded percussionist Tim Carr (in the recording scramble I spaced on taking a photo.. sorry Tim!), guitarists Sasha Birrittella + Max Crowe (recorded remotely), and Klezmer clarinetist Andrew Conrad:

    You have now seen “behind the scenes”. Was it enjoyable? Terrible? Both?

  • Timeboxing with Rob Kleiner (Sia) and Ethan Nicolle (Axe Cop)

    Ridiculously talented people continue to help me stay sane & productive in pursuit of art, on my podcast Timeboxing:

    • Songwriter/producer Rob Kleiner (Sia, Nikki Yanofsky, Quincy Jones)
    • Comic artist Ethan Nicolle (creator of Axe Cop, Bearmageddon):

    Rob and Ethan are extremely driven and insightful. I hope you find their advice as useful as I do.

    More here if you like it:

  • Everyone's Bee is Important: bee-hind the noises

    As Mila puts it in this interview, “Daddy draws the (un-intelligible) and his friend made the noises.” Ha!

    This project came about when 3 year-old Mila Shane improvised a song about the Importance of Everyone’s Bee. (We all know everyone has a bee, so I won’t get into that here.) Then her fantastic filmmaking father Giga Shane animated it, and brought me on board to sound design. As you might imagine, I had a lot of fun with this project.

    Giga and I chatted about the approach on the phone and he basically told me “go nuts!” (while of course leaving Mila’s song as the focus.) I think this is the best sort of collaboration- where there are a few guidelines and boundaries but plenty of room for experimentation and fun.

    Despite the fact that this was one of those start-friday-finish-saturday turnarounds, I decided it would be a good challenge to not use any pre-existing sounds (i.e. commercial SFX libraries) since:

    1) I like how constraints often lead to more interesting results. Given the amount of personality in Mila & Giga’s contributions, I wanted to put as much character into this thing as possible!

    2) To paraphrase Alice Waters, if you want a great meal, start with delicious ingredients. I love applying this idea to music and sound, hence using homemade sound effects instead of “canned”. For this same reason, most projects I do these days involve at least a few live musicians :)

    Here’s a list of how I made every sound effect in this thing!

    sound effects

    • 0:00 waves/water = bathtub/bucket sloshing
    • 0:03 shooom = mouth sound
    • 0:03 birds = the sound right outside my front door in the morning (featuring my neighbor’s birds)
    • 0:08 logo disappearing = bathtub draining
    • 0:10 title card = B’s played on the chromaharp
    • 0:15 branches extending out = opening my blue umbrella
    • 0:16 bears = me growling
    • 0:18 bees = me buzzing
    • 0:19 bee body pump up = accordion air release
    • 0:19 bee’s wings sprouting up = umbrella
    • 0:19 hammer hitting flask = tapping trumpet with harmon mute
    • 0:21 honeycomb filling in = lips/finger noise with delay
    • 0:25 grey transition = removing disc from led zeppelin boxed set
    • 0:24 factory ambiance = bike wheel spinning + me saying “tikatikatikatikatika”
    • 0:25 flask falls = me meowing
    • 0:29 close-up flask bubbling = water boiling on gas stove
    • 0:31 psychedelic tongue warp = mouth/tongue noises + whistling with effects
    • 0:33 teeth flying in = trumpet valves rattling
    • 0:33 lips/faces appear = me “taking a bite” sound
    • 0:33 lips/faces pulled apart = me saying “whoa!” as grandpa
    • 0:35 teeth fly out = more trumpet valve rattling
    • 0:36 jar appears = catching a pickle jar
    • 0:36 house appears = snare brush in jar
    • 0:37 garden fall = oven opening
    • 0:37 shutters/walls appear = paper
    • 0:37 curtains up = my curtains
    • 0:38 plants grow = vocalizations
    • 0:39 volcano / green ocean = vent hood rumbling (cheap piece of metal from home depot)
    • 0:41 it’s like, the universe, man = bunch of vocalizations
    • 0:42 honey men vocalizations = “say ahh” vocalization
    • 0:47 cosmic honey color swirl = vocalization
    • 0:48 eating cosmic honey = me saying “bwlowllowllowllowlow”
    • 0:50 bee quick entrance = me quick buzz
    • 0:52 start honey button = me saying “blerp”
    • 0:53 honey machine = chromaharp and accordion ascending glissando + vocalizations
    • 0:53 honey machine slams = plosive P’s (me saying “puh!” really close to the mic)
    • 0:58 team hands = leg slaps
    • 0:59 space cats = me meowing
    • 1:02 bees fly by = me buzzing
    • 1:17 bees exit = more grandpa whoas

    Check out Giga’s write-up for even more Bee-hind-the-scenes goodness including storyboards and photos of him and Mila on their way to the Lower East Side Film Festival premiere.

  • Little Hero - An Autism Documentary

    If this kickstarter succeeds…

    1) We’ll get to see a short documentary about a 6-year-old boy’s Autism as seen through his twin sister’s eyes.

    2) I will get to compose the score.

    Check it out and consider donating if you are moved. I just did :)

  • Will Roseliep, Roshin Mathew, Accordion for Deadwood

    Time to catch up on a few updates:

    I had the pleasure of interviewing classical hype man, cellist, and author Will Roseliep for ep 2 of Timeboxing. He recently released a new book (which I enthusiastically recommend) about how to quickly diagnose and treat problems within the classical music industry e.g. “being out-hustled”.


    I recorded voiceover with my new friend Roshin MathewBig Bowl of Ideas.


    Finally, I played accordion in a 4-hour musical adaptation of Deadwood by the SIlverlake Children’s Theatre Group.  (There are no typos in the previous sentence)  Talented and ambitious kids!


  • I had the pleasure of producing the music for this Reading Rainbow parody featuring the man himself, LeVar Burton! The amazing Mela Lee is on vocals.

    Thank you to director Charles Ingram, producer Rachel Goldenberg, and the other talented folks at Funny or Die for bringing me on.

    LeVar is currently raising funds to get Reading Rainbow online and in thousands of classrooms for free… what a great and worthy project. You can join tens of thousands of people in helping him out here:

  • Timeboxing with Sam Reich

    Sam Reich runs video for CollegeHumor, and I had the pleasure of interviewing him for episode 3 of Timeboxing!

    Hear his thoughts on creativity, productivity, a “light hand” in the writers’ room, and the sociopathic gear shift between creative and executive modes.  Then he brings up Getting Things Done and derails everything.

    If you enjoy, feel free to like/share/etc!  Write a short iTunes review and I will be forever in your debt.

    image  image  image  image  image  image

  • New podcast: Timeboxing (1st guest: Patrick Horvath) and spring recap

    I’m starting a podcast about creative pursuits vs. sanity called Timeboxing.  Here’s episode #1 where I talk to filmmaker and illustrator Patrick Horvath:

    Why does this exist?  Over the past few years I’ve found myself compulsively pulling friends & collaborators into conversation about how they balance creativity, productivity, and sanity. Many people seem to have some useful perspective or personal angle on this stuff, and since I would be having these conversations regardless (almost as a form of therapy) I decided to start recording them.

    Like/share/etc if you enjoy!

    facebook iTunes soundcloud stitcher

    After the interview I hired Patrick to do the cover art :)  Check out more of his illustration work at


    In other news, it’s been a great start to 2014.

    2 of David Fishel’s films which I created music for had the honor of screening at Lincoln Center in NYC!  A short called Natural Selection and a feature documentary involving dance, horses, and autism.  Here is the trailer for the latter:

    I’ve been mixing/scoring a video by Eric McCoy & Justus Meyer for Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.  Here’s Eric with actress Nicky Hawthorne in our VO session:


    In February, I traveled to NYC to finish vocal recording with Angeline Gragasin for an upcoming project:


    While in NYC (and then Boston) I also caught up with other friends and filmmakers:



     I recently completed a score for a DVD series by DawnSignPress.  Here are some of the session photos (Paul Fuller: banjo, Sasha Birrittella: guitar, Allen Fogle: french horn, Eleanor Weigert: bass clarinet, Jaimie Lee Mendoes: flute)






    And finally, I retired an old hard drive:


    Until next time!

  • The Pact II + 2013 wrap-up

    We’ve got some catching up to do!  A few projects I’ve scored lately include:

    The Pact II

    This feature horror film is being released by IFC Midnight and hitting the festival circuit shortly.  I had a blast working with directors Patrick Horvath and Dallas Hallam.  They are ideal collaborators: sweet, hard-working, and creative as hell!  It was also a treat to work with producer Ross Dinerstein and team.  I’m a fan of their work (e.g. Jiro Dreams of Sushi) and they are total pros.

    Here are Dallas and Pat playing a “vent hood” (a weird piece of metal traditionally used on rooftops).  We recorded some cool and very “stereo” sounds by super-close miking it while they tapped, scraped, etc.


    My elite squad of musicians included Joe Mendoes (cello), Lauren Baba (viola), Pasha Tseitlin (violin), and Brandon Dickert (drums):


    The score also featured chromaharp (but played with a pickle jar lid instead of picks), radiator cover (e.g. low metallic BOOOOMs- don’t tell my landlord I ripped it off the wall), and piano (many thank yous, Dory Bavarsky, for letting me record your beautiful baby grand):



    Here are audio gurus Rob Chen and Joe Loera at Lotus Post locking in the sound mix:


    The last step of the score was naming the 40+ cues.  "The Ghost Who Messed Up the Stuff" is probably the leading Grammy contender:


    That’s all the PACT 2 news for now!


    Another collaboration with the wonderful Celia Rowlson-Hall, which featured accordion, synthesizers, and more chromaharp.  I don’t have a clip since it is hitting festivals soon, BUT here is a kickstarter video for her debut feature film MA:

    Check it out and consider supporting if you find her work as exciting as I do!

    Natural Selection

    This playful short by my longtime collaborator David Fishel features the amazing dancer Carlye Eckert.  It will have the honor of screening at Lincoln Center in NYC in February, and you can watch it online right now here:

    Breaking Bad parody (SPOILERS!  Don’t be stupid- watch Breaking Bad first.)

    Directed by the talented Oren Brimer, who is now kicking ass at the Pete Holmes show- congrats Oren!

    Oren moved to LA from NYC this year, and at his housewarming I found this in his bathroom.  That is some mega Comedy Nerd Cred.


    Also, here’s Alex Wand deftly playing his National Steel Guitar for my BB-esque theme song:image

    First Dates with Toby Harris

    It was a treat to create some “Planet Earth” style source music for this episode of First Dates.

    In my opinion, it is among the best-crafted web series out there.  It’s rare to see this sort of tone pulled off so well (and consistently), but director Elliot Dickerhoof nails it.  And of course, actors Seth Morris, Joel Spence, and Anna Wenger are hilarious.

    Check out the full series here.

    Happy holidays!

  • 2 months in photos

    It’s been a busy couple of months!  Some highlights in reverse order:

    Composed a solo violin piece for an upcoming film by Jeff Lamb.  Here is the excellent violinist Barry Dillo after our recording session.


    Finally met VFX Wizard Mike Ritchie of Gloo Studios after five years of working together.  One of the nicest guys in the biz.


    Found a new use for the first tie I ever owned: foley for an animation by Ahmad Al-Awadi celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid.


    Rented some fancy API pre-amps…


    and used them to record 7 songs in a single evening (!) with Brandon Dickert, a drummer of the highest caliber.

    Recorded bass with Griffin Rodriguez - an inspiring engineer/producer/mixer (Icy Demons, Beirut, ..) and person.  He actually suffered traumatic brain injury in a bicycle accident not 2 weeks later.  As I’ve been mentioning on facebook, you can help support him here.  Get well soon, Griffin!

    Drove into the mountains on my birthday and bought a chromaharp from a nice banjo player named Dave.

    Joined the cult of cast iron.


    Recorded a song for The Pact II with Pat Horvath and Dallas Hallam (more on that in a future post!)

    Found out I am KILLING IT in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


    Back in July I visited Chicago, caught up with a lot of old friends and did a bunch of recording (thanks to engineers Dan Smart and Max Crowe).  I am humbled to have some truly world-class musicians involved… 


    Nicolae Feraru, a Romanian cimbalom player I’ve been a fan of for years.  This year he won a National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Honor National Heritage Fellowship, our nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.  Though I am exhausted in this picture, I was extremely excited to collaborate with him.


    Blagoj Lamnjov, a virtuoso clarinetist from Macedonia.  

    Long-time collaborator Max Crowe on guitars & bass.  (photo: Mikel Pickett)

    I also recorded more vocals with my favorite soul singer on the planet, Hawk Colman, but we forgot to take a picture!  I can’t wait to write & share more about the project all this recording was for :)

    Before the recording kicked off, I also…

    Did live sound at the Museum of Science and Industry for my friends Eric McCoy & Justus Meyer as they interviewed neuroscientist David Freedman about his work with “categorization”.  I had a fun chat with David about James Brown, and enjoyed working with our cinematography/lighting team Mike and Leland.


    Saw David’s band FuzZz (which consisted of him on guitar, another neuroscientist on keyboards, and KILLER rhythm & horn sections) with my friend and colleague Paul Lazarre.  Paul is an entrepreneur and science enthusiast, and conceived of the interview video in the first place.

    Before Chicago, my buddy Rebecca Berdel and I saw Jordan Vogt-Roberts film “Kings of Summer” - a great indie film worthy of your support.

    I also saw some truly inspiring concerts..


    The otherwordly Harry Partch Ensemble (featuring the talented Alex Wand).

    My friend Gina and I saw Björk!  One of my creative heroes… an Artist with a capital “A”.  I feel bad haven taken a photo after she asked the audience not to, but I promise my flash was off as to not distract anyone from the fireballs!


    How’s that for a blog post?  'til next time…