New Stop-Motion Collage Video!

Winston C.W. asked me to make a video utilizing collages for his beautiful new single, Business, from his upcoming new album. I’ve never done anything like this but wanted to try using stop-motion animation, and love the way it came out! Here’s a little bit about how it was made:

I wanted to have a central character that travelled through different landscapes that start stark and desolate, that literally reflected the lyrics, and gradually moved towards more luscious and abstract environments. I like the contrast of nature vs. science fiction/fantasy to tell a story of physical vs. mental spaces and how they coexist.

But mostly I just really like this song and wanted to have a little guy wander lost through a big weird world and hang with animals along the way.

Books/mags used: Canyons of America, Canadian Landscapes, 1980’s National Geographic Magazines, 1970’s OMNI Sci-Fi Magazines
After spending some time with the song, my process was the following:

  • Find backgrounds/environments that might complement the song
  • Find a main character who could travel through these scenes; I found a superhero character with his back turned and a heart on his cape, which I thought was perfect for what the storyteller is going through. I also like how small he is in comparison to the vast worlds he moves through.
  • Pick out scenes that would flow in a story and alter if needed. For example, I cut lines behind hills in the cactus scene, both for cacti to emerge out of and so the main character could fall into seemingly a cave, which is the next scene.
  • Find other characters and smaller environment objects to add to backgrounds and interact with the main character. Some of these I already had cut out from my collection. Have some of the other characters/objects continue into the next scene to support a continuous thread.
  • Write a sticky note for each scene describing what happens, like a storyboard for a movie.
  • Once I had all my pieces for a scene, I’d tape the background to my desk, position my stop-motion camera app above the desk and start taking shots, moving the pieces the smallest amount after each picture, until all scenes were compiled and put to the music.

The Burnt Ends Album Out Now!

It’s finally here! My vintage instrumental country band, The Burnt Ends, has just released our debut album, Way Out There. This is a collection of classic and rare country songs from the 1940s-60s, reimagined for three horns and full rhythm section. Check out more about what we do on the Burnt Ends page and you can listen to and purchase the digital and vinyl record on Bandcamp!

Film Score: “Subferatu”

I used to work with Pat Penta at The New School for Jazz. I advised students, he tuned pianos. Whenever he popped into my office I knew we were about to take a delightfully warped trip to the unknown. One day he told me, “someday, I’m gonna make a movie about vampires on a submarine during World War II and it’s gonna be called ‘Subferatu’ and it’s gonna be great!” AND GUESS WHAT. Two years ago he started doing exactly that.

He built a lifesize cross-section of a sub in a warehouse in Seattle. He wrote a hilarious script. He spritzed the actors in the face with water before each shot. And as he and his wife are SHWILSON’s biggest fans, he asked if I would write and record the soundtrack. YES PLEASE.

As a rabid classic horror fan, I was psyched. After reading through the script, I immediately rewatched some of my favorite films from the ’70s and ’80s for inspiration. Phantasm, The Shining, Videodrome, The Thing, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. All synthy and delicious.

I started sketching, running my synths through tons of pedals, glitching out and feeding back. Sweeping filters. Dark oscillating ostinatos. I wanted this thing to ooze with creepy nostalgia. There are even a few large ensemble numbers to support the WWII-era and tropical themes.

And now it’s done! Here is the horror of…SUBFERATU.