Carl Sondrol

Composer and music producer

Batika Hawk EP

Art pop, eccentric and bittersweet


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music videoS

The Making of Batika Hawk

In 2011, I had a musical existential crisis.

I had worked on many fun & rewarding projects in my first five years as a media composer, but felt something was missing. I became so "busy" I realized it had been ages since I'd made a project purely for the joy of making it. I wondered: do I have anything unique to say? (And if not, why should super-cool collaborators seek me out?) So I began an exercise to find out – at first just five minutes per day each day.

Soon I brought in Batika Jones for a "vocal production test" which became the song "Say It". We had a blast, began recording weekly, and decided to make an entire album. Next came lyricist Justin Boyle, who did the majority of the work shaping my gibberish demo lyrics into something real. (My lyric experience consists mostly of break-up songs from college, and trust me, nobody wants that!) Hawk Colman – one of my favorite singers in my old hometown of Chicago – rounded out the core team. I wrote with him & Batika specifically in mind. Their performances added so much personality that I named the project after them.

I also started adding a variety of other musicians. Whenever I had session players in for a film score, I recorded them on a song or two. Over the years, I started building vacations around recording sessions – in Chicago, Boston, NYC, and Arizona. Filmmaker friends started making music videos, and Nicole Greene spent weeks making a papier-mâché masterpiece for the cover art.

This was a passion project through and through, so I paused frequently for client and scoring projects. I overthought it, got wayyyy too "precious", and re-did the mixing several times as I attempted to level-up my skills. Getting mono in 2016 ground things to a halt for eons, but had the silver lining of forcing me to calm down and focus on one small task at a time.

I can't believe it took six years, but I always kept going, and eventually, it was done – the first EP, I mean. I'm still polishing the second ;)


Composer*/Producer: Carl Sondrol
Lyrics*: Justin Boyle, Carl
Vocals: Batika Jones, Hawk Colman (Denier, Freer, The Wayward Wind), Carl

*except for "The Wayward Wind", by Stanley Lebowsky (music) and Herb Newman (lyrics)

Additional Musicians by track #:

  • Bass: Max Crowe (3), Griffin Rodriguez (5)
  • Bass Clarinet: Eleanor Weigert (2, 3)
  • Bassoon: Brittany Jimenez (3)
  • Cello: Heather McIntosh (2), Joe Mendoes (3, 5), Will Roseliep (4)
  • Clarinet: Blagoj Lamnjov (5)
  • "Damn": Brian Sacca (3)
  • Drums & Percussion: Brandon Dickert (3: hihat, 4: kit+shaker, 5: kit)
  • French Horn: Allen Fogle (5)
  • Guitar: Giga Shane (2), Max Crowe (3)
  • Harp: Charissa Barger (4, 5)
  • Violin: Cheryl Kim (2), Lauren Baba (4)

Engineered by Carl except for:

  • Hawk's vocals by Dan Smart @ ECHO/NORMAL
  • Blagoj's clarinet as well as Max’s bass & guitar by Max Crowe @ Shrimp House
  • Brandon's shaker as well as Griffin's bass by Griffin Rodriguez @ Narnack Studios
  • Some of Batika's vocals (Freer, Moon, The Wayward Wind) by Richard Levengood @ Thump Studio

Mastered by Rob Kleiner @ Studio Edison

Album art / papier-mâché: Nicole Greene
Photo: Se Young Au

Thank you:

Nicole, Dan Benjamin & Merlin Mann, Rebecca Berdel, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Brad Conlin, Max Crowe, Mike Dahlquist, Steve Delahoyde, David Fishel, Gil Fronsdal & Andrea Fella, Richard Howarth, Rob Kleiner, Ken Lewis, Deane Ogden, Dave Pensado, Sam Reich, Jennifer Ruiz, Alex Wand, and Dave Winer