Carl Sondrol

Composer and music producer

Memorial Day



To mark Memorial Day, I posted the above snippet from an early film score on soundcloud. It’s from the 2007 documentary “Outspoken: Los Angeles” directed by David Bianchi.

The film features several extremely emotional interviews with families that lost their sons in the Iraq war. I watched these hundreds of times while writing the music. As the score neared completion almost a month later, their stories could still bring me to tears. I’ve never felt a greater responsibility for ensuring the music supports, honors, but in no way distracts from the highly personal stories onscreen.

I am grateful for our soldiers, and know that I may never fully comprehend the magnitude of their sacrifices.

acoustic bass - Matthew Golombiskycello - Will Roseliepviolin - Danielle Economy

FCU with James Franco LA Times premiere



Well hey it’s a bonus episode of FCU! This time featuring the amazing James Franco as a shapeshifter. The LA Times even gave it a nice write-up here.

I had fun creating lots of chase cues as well as some evil lab music for unstoppable director Dan Beers. Scoring scenes with actors as skilled as Franco, Pete and Brian is a real treat. Their timing & performances open a lot of doors for the score as my job becomes much more about complementing the energy onscreen than driving it. So fun.

Props as always to the rest of the team: editors Kyle Gilman and Steve Makowski, exec producer Thomas Bannister, producer Larry Laboe, and many more.

Last but not least, thank you to spy guitar-ist Max Crowe for his work starting when Franco flees his lab at 3:16.

Entrance: Tomorrow at the Downtown Independent



This week my blog (100th post!) goes to directors Patrick Horvath and Dallas Hallam, who’ve made a great film called ENTRANCE. It’s been racking up acclaim since premiering at the LA Film Fest last summer, and this Friday marks its release in theaters & on demand by IFC Films!

I feel lucky to have come up in the same circle of creatives at the University of Iowa in the early-mid 2000’s: Pat, Dallas, Steve Gartz, Max Crowe, David Fishel, Joel Anderson, Mike Schaubach, Spencer Griffin, etc… all who’ve gone on to create many a cool project. Pat’s first feature 100 Years From Now was shot in the Chicago apartment I shared with Max, and creating a few tracks for the film was one of my earliest scoring experiences.

It’s been a pleasure following their work over the years, as well as their podcast Toward A New Cinema which I’m always hoping for more of (ahem!)

So, if you’re in LA tomorrow, come see their best yet. Congrats Pat, Dallas, and crew!

Friday, May 18, 2012 from 8pm to 11pmLocation: Downtown Independent, 251 S Main St.Q&A with Ti West and reception to follow screening.

6 years in! / Early Theme Song



I just realized my company hit the 6 year mark last week! To mark the occasion, I thought I’d share a very early (as in.. before I knew much of anything about music production) project with you guys.

In 2005 (a full year before going into music as a profession) I made this theme song for a random guy on the internet (Chris Dodgen) for his sketch comedy series “Stranger Than Fiction”. Although the series never came to fruition, making this theme and a bunch of other random STF tracks was one of my very first tastes of what is now my day-to-day experience as a composer/producer.

This features longtime bandmate/friend Les Ohlhauser on rock/shred guitar, and myself on trumpet, accordion, metal growl, and the one synthesizer I used for everything back then.

Certainly I had plenty to learn about mixing music, but I still look back at this one fondly.

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


Michel Jean-Michel screens at LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival



Michel Jean-Michel: Overexposed will be screening at the LA Comedy Shorts fest this Sunday. I had the pleasure of scoring this mockumentary by Giancarlo Fiorentini and Jonathan Grimm. Screening details:

Sunday, April 29th @ 4pm-6pmDowntown Independent251 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Come say hi if you’re free!

p.s. there’s a “Fiesta Broadway” event going on Sunday which will result in some street closures- here are a few handy suggestions for getting to the Downtown Indpendent this weekend.

If I do these dishes...



A behind-the-scenes glimpse of ADR with the lovely Nicky Hawthorne for her new short Not Exclusive.

Ironically we’re recording outside of the big recording booth that’s directly behind Nicky, to better simulate the acoustics of the room the dialog was originally recorded in.

We also placed 2 cues from my library of past work as “source music” (i.e. music coming from a TV within a scene of her film) as well as an old track featuring a good friend of mine on vocals (Alice Wedoff) for end credits music. It’s good to see these pieces finding their way into more projects!

Fact Checkers Unit - season 2 (cont'd)

Continuing on my post from last month, here are the remaining episodes of FCU. 4.5 million views as of this writing, sheesh! Anyway, let’s get to it:

Episode 4 (ft. DMC): This one’s my personal favorite of the series.. a few reasons why:

  • I got to make some “medieval old skool hip hop” for the jesters scene (2:25)
  • Brian’s character is losing his grip on reality, resulting in some of the best/darkest Pete & Brian moments in the series. Made a bittersweet strings ‘n choirs cue for the climax at 3:30
  • Thomas Middleditch as DMC’s man-servant (star of the “world’s most famous paparazzo” mockumentary I scored last year)
  • DMC of Run DMC!


Episode 5 (ft. Mary Lynn Rajskub, Mark McGrath): To wrap up the series, you’ll hear plenty more “Party in my Mouth” from Ep. 2 as well as some (terrible) dance music I put together for the party:



Kudos again to all the talented people behind this series- director Dan Beers, leads Pete & Brian, Editors Steve Makowski and Kyle Gilman, Exec Producer Thomas Bannister, Producer Larry Laboe, and many more. If you’re at SXSW on Saturday, drop by the FCU panel and give them high fives.

GOODY! TWO SHOES



I recently had the pleasure of scoring & sound designing this video, directed by the wonderful Celia Rowlson-Hall. She describes it thusly:

watch me demolish a city, perform in a broadway show, stroll through the jungle and turn into a ghost… all over a pair of shoes.


I’ve been following Celia’s work for a few years now and it was a real treat to team up. It was a fun challenge to figure out how to complement the stream-of-consciousness visuals in a compelling way… I’m pretty excited about the godzilla-soundscape-into-broadway-sassiness-into-electro-jungle-ominousness-into-bittersweet-death-music-with-ghost-breathing approach we landed on :)

Thank you to all the great musicians who helped out on super-short notice:

Shannon Stone - tenor sax, clarinetWalter Simonsen - trumpetAngeline Gragasin - vocalsMax Crowe - guitar

Also, thank you Richard Howarth for assisting with sound design (as with last week’s post!)

Special thanks to frequent collaborator David Fishel (who also assistant directed and edited this video) for the introduction.

Enjoy! Then check out more of Celia’s films and choreography here.

Los Reyes Omitidos



This haunting animation about the origins of Cuzco, Peru is by one of my favorite Chicago filmmakers, Gus Gavino. Check out more of his work at middle mind project (I especially love his music videos.)

My main focus with this score was tone. It features a lot of accordion.. but more for mood than melody (e.g. the “breathing”, key rattling, shakes..) Other elements instruments included: string bass, a few woodwinds, harp, faint whistling, and some close mic-ed “low sighing” for the skulls scene.

Thank you Richard Howarth for assisting with sound design on this one! With this piece especially, the sound FX are just as important as the music in making the piece feel right.

Also, my old intern Alex Wand (who gave a very inspiring MFA graduation recital at CalArts on Wednesday by the way) was kind enough to translate the text of the story:

The story begins with the telling of the founder of the Incan dynasty, Ayar Manko. Legend has it that he turned to stone once he got old. Others say he magically flew away to a place where he continues to protect his town. His Successors maintained that they were children of the sun and in this way, they were able to secure the obedience of the nations of Tawantisuyu.

The text then explains how the Spaniards, who came with an ambition for gold, conquered the land. (i.e. barbaric mistreatment of women, murders, destruction of sacred monuments). Manko II attempted to retake Cuzco from the Spanish, but ultimately lost.


Finally, thank you Mike Ambs for letting me use the audio from his project The Lonliest Mix in this animation. It’s the wonderfully low sound of a “last-known hybrid blue whale” which sings at 52 Hertz… much higher than its fellow whales, whose calls fall in the 15 to 25 Hertz range- hence the nickname, “The Lonliest Whale.” Beautiful… you’ll hear it for a few seconds starting around 1:03.

Fact Checkers Unit - season 2

Back to work! FCU is a web series by Dan Beers- one of the most talented, easygoing, and collaborative directors I’ve ever worked with. (This is our second time working together- we also worked on an ESPN web series, release pending)

This was a lot of fun, as there were plenty of diverse music needs (often the case with comedy)… here’s a walkthrough of the first few eps:

Episode 1 (ft. Moby):

Made a quick instrumental version of Moby’s “Sleepy Sleepy Grandma” for when she wakes up at 3:01. The second piece I made was described thusly in the script:

INT. JORDACHE’S OFFICE - LATER

Jordache sways to some bizarre indie music. Amy watches.

JORDACHEYou’ve never heard this song. No one has. The band made one song then they all died. Their early stuff was better.


Heh. I recorded a bunch of random parts and “sang” through a pitch-shifter overtop, resulting in the potentially the strangest piece of music I’ve ever been contracted to make (at 3:30).



Episode 2 (ft. T-Pain): I produced/recorded the song “Party in My Mouth” for this one, and co-wrote it with the illustrious Pete and Brian aka Russell and Dylan. Pretty impressed by T-Pain’s acting in this.



Episode 3 (ft. Kyle Gass!, TJ Miller) Did a little angelic cue for when “Mirage” is floating around the sky at 0:40:



More episodes coming soon..

Adjoa Skinner - live at a Sundance afterparty



Sundance is a blast! I’ll definitely post a few pictures and what not once I get back and caught up. In the meantime, above is a little behind-the-scenes vid.

I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderfully talented singer named Adjoa at Sundance this week. Amidst a room of endearingly tipsy partygoers, she played this song.

Enjoy. You can help fund her album here (1 day left!):http://indiegogo.com/adjoaskinner

BAMMO!



Starting the year off with a bang! I scored & sound-designed this spastic promo for frequent/fantastic collaborators Rebecca Rerdel (motion gfx) and Angeline Gragasin (director). This was my first time working on a project with DP Jeff Katz (his work is awesome, check it out!)

Thank you, moment’s-notice live musicians for breathing so much energy into this music:Max Crowe - guitarBrian Mantz - trumpetAndrew Conrad - bari & tenor sax

All the guys IN this video (Mystery Guitar Man, Mike Diva, DeStorm Power, Corridor Digital) are monstrously creative, hard-working badasses who I have a lot of respect for. Hopefully we did them proud.

And last but not least, special thanks to my pal Steph Belsky for throwing such a fun project our way!

Short film binge

This week I found myself down for the count with something flu-like, which left me plenty of time to indulge in vimeo/youtube exploration.. so much fun.

Here are a few favorites from what I found:



Overtime: an incredible & moving Jim Henson tribute by Damien Ferrie (thanks Jordan)..http://vimeo.com/26784202(thanks Angeline)..http://vimeo.com/12155835(thanks Kerstin)

SEEKING: versatile lyricist for mega fun/creative project

If you’ve read this blog before, you might know I spend most of my time making music for films & internet shorts (which is a blast). However, for the first time in years I now also have a “strictly for fun” studio project going!

I brought in a great singer to add vocals to one of the tracks and we had so much fun we decided to record something every week. She’s a filmmaker by trade (a gifted one, IMHO) and we even have plans to make videos for as many of these songs as we can.

Here’s where you come in: it turns out neither of us have much legit experience writing lyrics. We figure, why not find a lyricist who cares about words as much as we do about writing/producing/singing? We’re thinking some songs will be more collaborative (we have snippets of words here and there that might be promising starting points..) whereas for others we’d lean on your amazing abilities more.

If that sounds interesting to you, email me with a little info about yourself, and we’ll send you a few snippets of our work-in-progress tracks to see if they pique your interest.

Let’s see what you’ve got, internet. Excited to hear from you!-Carl

My contact info is up at: sondrol.com