Carl Sondrol

Composer and music producer

Filtering by Tag: music video

LA Dance Film Fest on Thursday, 2018 recap

If you're looking for something to do in LA this Thursday, I'll be the LA Dance Film Festival for a screening/panel which will include our Wayward Wind music video. I'd love to see you if you're free!

Thursday, Jan. 24th @ 7pm
Los Feliz 3
1822 North Vermont Avenue, 90027

While we're at it, here are some long-overdue highlights from the last year or so:

Wayward Wind (Steve Delahoyde and Monica Thomas' beautiful music video) has screened at nearly 20 festivals, including Raindance. I've made it out to most of the California ones.

At the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, I had the honor of being interviewed by Grammy-winner Leslie Ann Jones of Skywalker Sound. Coincidentally, I spent a lot of time as a kid listening to music by her father, the brilliant 1940's slapstick bandleader Spike Jones. I shared a few memories of this and she lit up :)

I scored a "live-action cartoon" web series called See Plum Run, which is streamable on CollegeHumor's new "Like Netflix, but worse!" subscription service, DROPOUT. (hint: free trial)

I made a few new pieces for Relativity, including a theme song for their new Uncivil Procedure podcast. About a year ago, they generously flew me out to Chicago to give a workshop about collaborating with composers.

I got to see the great John Williams perform in Chicago. (Many thanks to my friends Paul & Jenny Lazarre for making this happen!)

I got a real, live, grand piano!! Long ago, it was a wedding gift to my Grandma Mary. My parents were kind enough to ship it all the way from Arizona to LA. I haven't had easy access to a real piano for over a decade, and have been enjoying unwinding with a mix of Rachmaninoff and Mingus.

Anyway, have a great week, and if I'm lucky perhaps I'll see you on Thursday!


With Leslie Ann Jones after the San Francisco Dance Film Fest "What's the Score?" panel. image

_My Dad’s old Spike Jones records – my sister and I used to chase our cocker spaniel around the dining room table while listening to this unadulterated wackiness. Did you know Spike Jonze gets his moniker from Spike Jones?_ image

Hanging out with Relativity’s Nicholas Matejcak (L) and JC Steinbrunner (R). Before this photo we collaborated on a thumb visibility strategy. image

I can’t wait to record this thing again! (last time was for Batika Hawk -- I lugged my recording gear all the way out to Arizona)

Baby Please

Congrats to director Eric McCoy and the band Fellow Rebel on the release of their first music video today! The recording booth scenes were shot here in my studio ;)

Kudos also to producer Justus Meyer, DPs Wojciech Kielar & George Nienhuis, Costumer Nicole Briggs, the rest of the crew, and of course the band: Matt Sax and Angela Polk. Those two have some pretty serious vocal abilities.

Happy early Thanksgiving!

Gotye/Kimbra CollegeHumor parody

Matt Pollock directed this Gotye/Kimbra parody for which I had the pleasure of producing the music. Check out the original below to see how it stacks up. Kudos to lyric writer Emily Axford, producer David Kerns, DP Marcus McDougald, post wizards Mike Schaubach & Lacy Wittman & Amanda Madden, VFX gurus Gloo Studios, actors/naked people Kyle Mooney & Beth Dover, and many more.

I was lucky to have Ryan Hanifl on male vocals (not many singers can handle Gotye’s range/power, but he nailed it), Annette Frank on female vocals, and Max Crowe on (sexually ambiguous) guitars. Thanks also to Richard Howarth for his help with a few music production elements.

ALSO, I want to give a big shoutout to the many talented folks at CH for winning 3 Webby Awards this year.

Best Comedy Short: Siri ArgumentBest Comedy Short - People’s Voice Winner: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Star WarsBest Performance People’s Voice Winner: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Star Wars

Axe Cop: #1 motion comic in existence

Ethan Nicolle (co-creator of Axe Cop) writes:

Topless Robot named Axe Cop the #1 motion comic in existence! That is pretty high praise and I hope all the guys who worked so hard on those things get a big warm fuzzy from that article.

I sure did!

The article described the soundtrack as “

the greatest cartoon music since the 1960s Spider-Man series

.” What do I say to that?? I am quite flattered. :)



and scroll down to see and read about the 3 episodes I’ve worked on thus far.

Turn and Smile (a sitcom theme about sitcom themes)

This week I thought I’d do a quick write-up of a project completed before I had this blog called “Turn and Smile”. Basically, CollegeHumor asked me to make an 80’s sitcom theme a la Family Matters or Full House with piano, bass, and a scratchy soul singer. So, I listened to a LOT of sitcom themes on youtube, and did my best to incorporate the defining qualities of the genre into the above song.

My friend Hawk Colman is easily one of the best soul singers I know in Chicago and was a no-brainer for the lead vocal. I was dying laughing during the session, as Hawk is a natural with his delivery and knows exactly what lines to really sell and HOW to sell them (e.g. the way he sings “whichyo family” at 0:47, the slight character change at 1:10 for the “grouch” line, the airiness he throws in choice words for the outro at 1:26, etc). Also, when he sings “show’s created by THIS man” at 1:30 we discovered the way to get the perfect take was to have him VERY emphatically point at something when he sings “THIS”.

I remember the main note I gave him was “Hawk, that’s too soulful. Try to sound more like a white guy TRYING to sound like a black guy, and channel Rod Stewart”. And did he ever. I miss him greatly as a friend & musician out here in LA.

Max Crowe expertly laid down several layers of guitar, then I brought in a bunch of my best friends / neighbors for the gang vocals (Max, Alice Wedoff, Johanna Wiesbrock) and instructed them to sing as sitcomy as possible. Lastly, I added plenty of extra layers to stay true to the arranging style of that period: strings, french horn, and OF COURSE plenty of wind chimes.

Kudos to Vince Peone for directing, Dan Gurewitch for the lyrics, and to everyone else at CH for making such a solid video.

Many pop stars, one song (with Yvonne Strahovski)

Here’s something recent- a song written by Dan Gurewitch, starring Yvonne Strahovsky of Chuck, directed by Vince Peone, and produced by Leigh Myles.

This project had some pretty interesting requirements:
  • A single singer to impersonate Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber
  • Music production that switches to match each time the impersonation does
Enter Angela Ingersoll, one the most talented & hard-working singers I’ve worked with so far, below in gaga sunglasses:

In one marathon vocal session (the longest I’ve ever been in) she knocked out FIVE vocal impersonations (this includes a Taylor Swift section which was later cut for logistical reasons). She works really fast- vocal impersonation takes a long time no matter how you slice it. In this case we also had to make sure the characters were distinguishable from one another. Angela was constantly pushing for better and better takes to capture the subtleties of each singer, seemingly tireless even in a high key. As a producer I always hope for musicians with this kind of drive.

The shape-shifting music production was a nice challenge too. As this was very POP I didn’t need a lot of live musicians, but you’ll hear serial session player Max Crowe on guitar for the Katy Perry sections.

An original song about the Internet

This is one of my favorite recent projects, for a few reasons:

First, I got to write all the music and had a good amount of creative freedom. Expert internet humorist Streeter Seidell wrote the meme-packed lyrics and gave some basic direction (a deep sexy voice rapping the verses with occasional singing, a chorus that “swells”, etc). I had fun layering in different stuff to build as the song goes on… pianos, vibes, mellotron, synthesizers, and even brass.

Secondly, I got to work with some great musicians. Will Wheaton is featured in the verses, and seems to have the deepest sexiest voice in LA (he’s subbed for Isaac Hayes on Southpark if that gives you an idea of his caliber). He’s extremely hardworking and nailed all the details.

Singer/actor Matt Geiler is the prominent voice in the chorus and you can also hear him “emoting” throughout the verses. He had me laughing a lot during the session with his spot-on pop adlibs.

I also brought in my friend Greg Nicolett to season the last chorus with trombone and I played some trumpet as well.

Josh Ruben directed the video. Enjoy!

I'll Make Like to You - with Romany Malco

Here’s a Boyz II Men parody I produced for CollegeHumor featuring Romany Malco (No Ordinary Family, Weeds, 40-Year-Old Virgin). I was all of 12 years old when this song came out… working on this was such a bizarre way to be revisiting my childhood.

To keep things simple / affordable, I decided to tackle this using 2 singers instead of 4. I really lucked out: that’s the incredibly talented Maurice Smith on lead vocals + some harmonies, and another great singer, David Vines, filling out the rest (including the airy “super-bass” vocals during the choruses.)

They shot this one out here in LA and invited me out to the set! (which happened to be a crazy mansion) A few pictures:

Myself with Romany Malco & backup singers. Left to right: Nic Huffman, me, Romany, Jordan Carlos, ____ (name escapes me!)

Sam Reich directed this one. Here is he working with the backup dancers on some smooooth choreography.

The outdoor stairway scene.

Grease Dilemma

I produced the music for this parody of Summer Nights from Grease, with lyrics by Jake Hurwitz.

This was the last project I made before moving from Chicago to LA, and was very glad to bring in one of my favorite singers, Leslie Beukelman as the voice of Sandy (Oliva Newton-John).  You might want to listen to the original song again first… she is EERILY accurate, and nailed every nuance we could find.

Lucky for me, she brought her friend John Tashjian along, who did a great job on the Danny (John Travolta) part.  I was shocked when he whipped out a dead-on Kineckie (thick Brooklyn or Bronx-ian accent) so I had him cover that part too.

Longtime friends Nick Thompson and Max Crowe respectively/respectably played saxophones and guitar/bass, and Josh Sauvageau was interning like crazy.  For the gang vocals I layed in a bunch of other fun people: Caroline Davis, Noel Taylor, Alice Wedoff, Jacob Carlson.


Nightmare Before Xmas Parody

I don’t have anything Thanksgiving-themed to post, but I do have something holiday-related. This is a piece I did music and sound design for earlier this year.. a parody of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.

As with Web Site Story, I:1) didn’t have sheet music so did my best to recreate all the parts by ear.  (I’m of course using samples and a few great musicians rather than a real orchestra) Here is the original if you’re curious to compare.2) thoroughly enjoyed dissecting this track and figuring out what makes it work. Danny Elfman is one of my all-time favorites and this was a real joy to work on. A very intensely-fast-paced-race-to-the-deadline kind of joy.

That’s Jacob Carlson on vocals (as Danny Elfman!) and one of my Chicago favorites, Gerald Bailey on trumpet. Last, and surely least importantly, I cameo (vocally) as a drunk priest at 0:55.

The lovely claymation is by Chelsea Manifold, and a few nice visual effects are by the wizards at Gloo Studios.

As for my friends at CollegeHumor: Josh Ruben and Vincent Peone directed, Ben Joseph wrote & produced, and David Fishel edited.

Ska's back!

A few months ago I found out I’d soon be making a full-on ska song for CollegeHumor. I know a ton of amazing horns players here, so was pretty excited right off the bat. Even better, the premise of the song involves an increasingly out-of-control horn section.. so I knew it would involve lots of very fun sessions.

Pat Cassels wrote the song & sent a rough demo- I added a couple melodies here and there, arranged a bunch of ridiculous horn parts, and got to work recording & producing this beast.

Thank you very much to all the great people who played & helped out on this:Vocals - Kevin GibsonTrumpet - Gerald BaileyTrombone - Andrew ZelmFrench Horn & Kazobo - Anna SuechtingGuitar & Bass - Max CroweDrum Sequencing - Rob KleinerDidgeridoo - David Fishel

This is definitely one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever made (and that is saying something). Enjoy.

Show 'n Tell Show: behind the scenes

Earlier this year I completed a theme song for Chicago’s live graphic design talk show, The Show ‘n Tell Show. My friends at Optimus made a video for it featuring Chicago’s improv puppet troupe Felt and have posted a few behind-the-scenes pictures of the shoot here.

I’ve also posted some candid (read: blurry) photos from the shoot on my facebook page.

Finally, if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the final product (I cameo in a labcoat taking cloud readings near the end):

show n tell show from hogwash media on Vimeo.