Silent Remasters 2009 – New Scores for Silent Films
On Thursday the 26th of November at 7.30pm, the 2009 season of the Media Resource Centre‘s ‘Silent ReMasters’ program brings to the people of Adelaide the first of four classic silent films, each driven by an exciting new musical score. Each score will be performed live by a variety of ensembles, ranging from solo DJ-driven sets through to orchestras with upwards of twenty instrumentalists. The initiative has run annually for several years now, and goes from strength to strength. The screening event series is proudly supported in 2009 by APRA and Billy Hyde Music.
Supermarket has the launching honours this year and I will be augmenting Robert Wiene’s classic horror film with a variety of electronic and electro-acoustic beats from dub through to drum ‘n’ bass. Expect the cobwebs to be blasted out of this pioneering film of the genre, as I play live overdubs on a strange miscellany of intrumentation, including a theremin.
It’s been an intense couple of weeks setting up and then setting to work in my home studio. It’s been great to get back to making music in a concentrated way.. I’ve not spent so much uninterrupted time making music since Emma Sterling and I launched Supermarket way back in 2007. While at this stage our re-score is a one-off performance, we’re hoping to tour with the work in the future, and will be looking into the possibility of a remix project and subsequent release. Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in booking a performance in your town in the future.
For several years now, Adelaide’s Media Resource Centre has been running a music production initiative for emerging screen composers called Silent Remasters. After applying for the privilege of performing an original live re-score of a silent movie classic in two previous years, it appears third time’s the charm and Supermarket is on this year’s recipient list. Now I am faced with the equally daunting and exhilerating task of composing and preparing a brand-spanking new electronic score for the horror classic The Cabinet of Dr Caligari… ready for performance in less than three weeks!
I was first introduced to Robert Wiene‘s psychological thriller some years ago through a friend with obscure and fascinating taste. Produced in 1920, the film struck me with its dramatic use of light and shadow and the obvious influence of expressionistic painting in the often oblique and wild set designs. For a film of its age, its pace is a little slow but it holds up much better than the majority of works of its age. The likes of Rob Zombie, Tim Burton and countless other artists (past and present) have drawn direct influence from this film and it’s a pleasure to be given the chance to work directly with such a precious piece of cinema’s history. As an exploration of madness and monstrosity, the film brought to light themes that have continued to sustain the horror and thriller genres through decades of permutations.
My proposal for the new soundtrack to the film includes a variety of instrumentation- no honky tonk pianos or string ensembles in sight. A sampler, microphone, delays & fx, an accordian, several synthesizers, some percussion and a theremin will all be put to work. I will be performing the score as Supermarket, though at this stage Emma Sterling (who usually manages the VJ’ing role in our regular audio-visual sets) will not be taking the stage. The film runs a length of 72 minutes, so I’ll be breaking the score into ‘themes’… remixing versions of arrangements at different instances during the film. A necessary design decision to make the task of fulfilling the brief achievable in the tight three weeks of allowed schedule.
Once I have some of the score recorded, Em and I will float a 30 second trailer online and give you all a taste of what lucky cinema-goers in Adelaide will be privvy to on the night of November 26th. The screening starts at 7.30pm, and there will be two short silent films preceding The Cabinet of Dr Caligari… La Folie du Docteur Tube (1915) and Windsor McKay’s Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: The Pet (1922). Windsor McKay is one of the great early pioneers of animated film, and both shorts promise to showcase some impressive special effects that place them far in advance of their years of production.
The Silent Remasters program runs for four nights of original performed re-scores over two weeks. Full details are available on the Mercury Cinema’s website.
Yesterday I took a call from the manager of Tomas Ford, an established Western Australian performer, who presents something like the Bowie of electro. At the time of the call, I didn’t know anything about his music or theatrical self. His manager was looking for replacement support acts for the SA leg of his national tour (accompanied by DOS4GW) after discovering that the venue they had booked the gig had paired them up with a couple of wildly inappropriate musical acts! Pairing up glam-electro-pop and chiptune music with anxious punk rockers wasn’t going to fly with TF’s manager, so he found us online, and gave us a call. Understanding his situation, and an a few descriptive words like break/noise/electro later, we confirmed the spot. The gig is on Sunday, September 6th at the Crown & Anchor Hotel in Adelaide, and we’re happy to announce that it’s licensed and all ages.
So, what do you do after you take a gig with less than a week’s notice? You put your internet and web 2.0 marketing skills into top gear! The most powerful tool I’ve found to date is ArtistData– a service I discovered a few months back. Artistdata is too hot to not seize control of. It works on the simple principle that artists and their managers should only have to upload or enter data once. News, blog entries, gig info, bios, pics… the service handles the lot, and redistributes the information you feed it across a range of popular social networking and music specific websites.
Better than that, it creates custom webpages for every gig you create (click on the image above for a sample) featuring handy links to your other online presences, and pumps out RSS feeds (ask me about that one if you’re not up to speed) that you can have feed data directly back into facebook, your blog etc. In North America, ArtistData is even establishing direct links with traditional music media across the continent, so that provided you post events with at least a fortnight’s notice, street press will get all the details in whatever town or state your playing in in time for publication. Smoking hot.
So once I’ve keyed the event into Artistdata and hit ‘Publish’, it does its thing and breaks the back of my online promo work. Next there’s some tidying up to do elsewhere- picking up the trail of fans that are clustered at various sites. More than likely Facebook and Myspace are the core catchments, and both have pretty obvious means available for broadcasting to fans. Beyond this, I try as best I can to centralise our fan management via a managed email list hosted by another great website I’ve used for a couple of years now- ReverbNation. Reverbnation is dynamite for many reasons, not the least of which is FanReach, a very flexible and powerful fan management system for artists to tap into for free. I use FanReach to send an HTML email blast with customisable links and content out to all the fans specific to the town we’re playing in, and we’re well on our way.
The whole exercise should take less than a couple of hours, and the value of that time in targeting key audiences is immeasurable. If you’re an artist, set yourself up with free accounts at Artistdata and ReverbNation today- they will make the path forward in marketing your band much easier to manage. These sites continue to impress me with ongoing improvements and new services, and certainly make mass communication manageable for the self-managed or breaking artist! I guess we’ll see how the short-burn campaign pays off on the weekend… hope to see some of you there!