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Under Covers: a Vimeo Staff Pick

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2019 at 3:53 pm

A while back, I composed and recorded the music for this gem of an animated short. It premiered at Sundance and then played a series of festivals before landing on Vimeo as a Staff Pick. I’m tremendously proud of the success and reception Under Covers has had. And I’m honored to have worked with the brilliant Michaela Olsen and Mighty Oak.

Watch Under Covers in its entirety.

Under Covers from Mighty Oak on Vimeo.

 

There were a couple interesting challenges in scoring this film. One of which was the nature of having several vignettes tie the story together. I found myself asking questions like, “Does every vignette NEED music? If so, must the score match the tone shifts in each one?”

I ended up with a soundtrack that followed the changing tones of each vignette, but felt like a unified score. I did this by limiting myself to a selection of instruments and musical genres. From the start, Michaela said she wanted something that felt organic. She liked my use of bells and plucked strings—things that felt tiny and child-like to match the fabrication style. However, the subject matter of the film is decidedly un-child-like, so the music needed to utilize those tools, but then subvert them someway—adding edge, sophistication, and humor.

To match the way all the characters return and swirl about each other in the end, I knew I wanted the score to return and blend in motifs we’ve heard in various vignettes. The harp plays a similar melody from the very beginning. The bells, harpsichord, and drums introduced previously return to assist the jazz vocalist, who is now singing a new song—this one about the secrets we keep and loving ourselves regardless.

I definitely drew inspiration from composers like Mark Mothersbaugh and Jon Brion, but also the reactionary scoring in the likes of Loony Toons. For some of the piano stylings, I drew from Art Tatum, and the singing style definitely contained elements of Billie Holiday. Dylan Stephen Levers’s ability to croon like a jazz vocalist from the ’40s really brought the sound together.

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I’m Going to Sundance (and other news)

In Uncategorized on January 6, 2019 at 5:34 pm

I scored the short film Under Covers, by Michaela Olsen, which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. I was hired by Mighty Oak last year to compose the music, and I had the absolute best time. Re-watching it over Christmas with my musician father was a real treat as I got to discuss some of the more nuanced aspects of the score—stuff like repeating motifs, and the challenge of writing and recording a song that sounds like Billie Holiday. Check out the trailer below!

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The Backward Astronomer has a lot of laurels

I’m so happy that the movie I made with Jake Nelson is getting so much attention. I’ve been flying to as many festivals as I can to accept awards. Here’s a picture of me in Winchester, England, where we got “Honorable Mention”.

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And here’s just a current screenshot of our film’s page where Jake has been updating this image with every new festival laurel we receive.

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Almost a complete set!

Stay tuned for some Side Effects news that should be arriving shortly. Happy 2019!

My short film: The Backward Astronomer

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2018 at 8:55 pm

A couple of years ago, an acquaintance whom I occasionally saw at parties of mutual friends handed me a doodle with his contact info written on the back. This happened at my 30th birthday party, which Kat and I hosted at our apartment in Brooklyn. I had seen his animated short Hungry Boy before and was tremendously impressed with his style and aesthetics. I was also a big fan of his paintings, which hung on the walls of many of our shared friends. Flattered and intrigued, I met with this man, Jake Nelson, for a beer to discuss the potential collaboration.

After sending him an assortment of my short stories, he ultimately picked one that I had written in graduate school and that was published in the 2013 Fall/Winter issue of H.O.W art & literary journal. It was called The Backward Astronomer—part poetry, part fiction. It belonged in a larger collection of these po-ficts that made up my novel The Dead Space Architects. Each po-fict described the relationship of two people in different settings, and each piece could stand on its own.

I got to work translating the po-fict into a screenplay and Jake began the long process of directing and animating it. Fast forward about two and a half years and we finally have a finished short film (runtime = 10min).

Watch the trailer here…

TRAILER – The Backward Astronomer from Jake Nelson on Vimeo.

 

The film is playing at select film festivals. You can find the complete list including more information here: thebackwardastronomer.com

The score is all original music by myself and Jesse Perlstein.

Pre-orders Are Open, But Not for Long

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2018 at 7:04 pm

Hurry up and click these words to order a copy of Side Effects! We’re ending the pre-order period on April 15. Buy your copy for just $25—and if you live in the US, it’s free shipping!

We also released an updated print-and-play version of the game with two new bonus cards! Download it here. Password: RxRefill

For complete Side Effects rules, including how to use the new cards, visit pillboxgames.com/instructions

And don’t forget to pick up some swag at Pillbox Games’s Society6 page: society6.com/pillboxgames

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Swaaaaaaag!

 

Goal Achieved

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2017 at 4:21 am

We’re now 40 hours away from the end of the campaign. It’s been an unbelievable experience. Within the first ten hours of us being on Kickstarter, Side Effects was fully funded. We’ve had many reviews, interviews, and posts, but this is one of my favorites…

From my friend Jason. I played with him and his wife, Yifei, when Kat and I were in Tokyo this September.

We’re not far from our $75k stretch goal and there’s still time! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/818343421/side-effects

Check out our other videos and reviews here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLL5bCmO4g1b5oARwxm51XyBDLRo6-FGMz

Directed by Luke Koz. Ben Bronstein, Kat Thek, and I are playing in the video. I recorded the song. Oliver Conant is the voice. Camera work by Sarah Tricker.

Side Effects, a card game

In News, Uncategorized on January 16, 2017 at 9:43 pm

I’ve always loved making games. When I was a child, my friends and I would get together to invent new games made of cardboard and paint and markers and anything else we could get our hands on. I even remember getting boardgames from the thrift store and repurposing them—gluing paper over the board or using their pieces to make new, more interesting games.

I even had a brief stint writing and designing computer games with HyperCard. My Dad and I would do them together and then upload them to an indie game AOL forum—people under 25 will have no idea what any of those things are.

But I never did anything with my homemade games on a grand scale like I’m doing now.

Last year, I started developing a card game that involved mental illnesses and drugs. The game took many months of tweaking and refining until now we finally have a very fun, darkly humorous, and vindictive game that I’m now calling Side Effects.

I brought my prototype (3×5 index cards with clip art glued to them) to my friend Lee‘s apartment to play with a bunch of people and see if they had any feedback. The illustrator Ben Bronstein was there and he liked the game so much that he offered to help me refine it and do the artwork. I had seen Ben’s unique brand of line art a la R. Crumb back in the day and was overjoyed that he’d help me bring Side Effects to life.

Over the next several months, we worked together, developing a style and template for the cards. We went through many, many revisions and I’m so freaking excited to share the final product.

Here are just a few examples of the cards.

We plan on launching a Kickstarter sometime early this year.

Go to pillboxgames.com and sign up for the mailing list.

If you live in the New York City area, send me a message and I will be more than happy to meet up and play a few rounds with you. It’s a great bar or coffee shop game!

Even This Acronym

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2016 at 12:18 am

I was asked if I’d like to contribute to a couple anthologies recently. One taking place in the V-Wars universe and the other taking place in the X-Files  universe.

For the V-Wars story, I wrote about life in Brooklyn after it’d been nearly decimated by war. The story centers on a somewhat sleazy, broke 20-something who, in the midst of a bad breakup, finds that he’s become addicted to sex with a hermaphroditic succubus.

For the X-Files story, I have Mulder and Scully come to my apartment in Brooklyn to interrogate me (Jade Shames) while I’m in the middle of writing the other story.

Check it out! Click a book for a link to order it.

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Scary Out There

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2016 at 11:53 pm

HeyHey,

Some poems I wrote when I was a young adult were published in this book for young adults. You can purchase it here.

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My poems are:

Sparrow

Thinking of Kelsey, and how she went to high school one year before I did and said that it was horrible, and how many years later she overdosed on Benadryl in a bathroom because she believed werewolves were waiting for her outside, but really it was a schizophrenic relapse

Trench Coats

War Paint

In the book, they didn’t bold the title of the second one, but yes it is a very long title. Really honored to have my work right after R. L. Stein’s—Goosebumps was my jam.

Big thanks to Jonathan Maberry for publishing this and a couple other short stories I wrote in other anthologies he edited.

Just Released New Album

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2016 at 9:30 pm

My new instrumental album, CONDUCTOR, is now available online. Download it on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/conductor/id1104954333
Here it is on Spotify:https://play.spotify.com/album/0Nze5TfizzQ7Qa3mlknINHJade-Conductor1

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So many thanks to Gleichklang Recordings, Johann Pätzold, Haunted Water, Djulien Ferrantes for a fantastic mastering job, Kate McCormack for the album art, Gillian Jackson for the cello work on Weather in Brooklyn and Moon Rocket, Lee Cahill for all the business stuff, and Stu Shames for teaching me how to play.

Releasing an unofficial NEW 6-song album

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I’ve decided to release a song a day from my new EP, ’96, over the course of the next six days. I really hope you enjoy it. I hadn’t really touched my SoundCloud account since I got back from my mini-tour in Germany. It’s nice to finally have songs to share again.

Many thanks to my manager, Lee Cahill; and my record label, Gleichklang Recordings; Kat Thek; Jake Chudnow; and Johann Pätzold for your support and encouragement.