Friday, December 25, 2009

X-Mas Special! ZXR RADIO SEADROME on Other Dimension Radio


Other Dimension Radio

The Official 'Other Dimension Radio' Podcast available now!
Program # 1. ZXR RADIO SEADROME  
Almost Live via Biomass Transmitor - Music and Interview!

     Other Dimension Radio 1 - X-mas 2009  by  TAOXProductions
An interview with Sir Devin Starke

Of ZXR RadioSeaDrome


This interview with Devin Starke was conducted via
biomass interface between ZXR RadioSeaDrome
and the Biomass Research Laboratory
of Doctor Stephan Warlock in October of 2009.
Transcript from the desk of Dr. Stephan Warlock:

Recently, while conducting some experiments in Biomass Communications, I stumbled across an unusual signal. I was able to tune in to a broadcast from a strange facility called  ZXR Radio Seadrome.  After some calibration, I managed to pinpoint their clandestine Broadcast Network long enough to reverse a patterned biomass signal and get their attention.
    Only someone with a mind sharp enough to design, build, and operate the Tesla powered SeaDrome broadcast facility would be able to see the code in the biomass feedback pulses and recognize them as a “friendly hello” from someone with the capacity to interrupt their signal.
 It was the first round in a game of “psycho-electro-acoustic/ tag” with ZXR Radio Seadrome. 
For those unfamiliar, ZXR RadioSeadrome is comprised of a partnership between:
·                            Dr. Alex Zarkov (Chief Engineer – Electronics Expert),
·                            Captain Reginald Van Duesenberg – (ZXR’s Commander and navigator).
·                             Sir Devin Starke – (Composer/Musician and ZXR’s Music Director)

And now, streaming through an arcane array of biomass feedback generators and wave converters, I am pleased to bring you delegated representative from the SeaDrome itself …
Sir Devin Starke, Composer extraordinaire:

1.                              Dr. Stephan Warlock:  Greetings Devin, I believe you are it, so to speak.  Could you start by telling us a little bit about the ZXR RadioSeadrome and your music? Give us a general sense of your purpose and style…

Sir Devin Starke: Greetings Dr. Warlock, it’s a pleasure to speak with you. By the way that was pure genius how you intercepted our signal, very impressive work. Dr. Zarkov would like to talk to you about it after the interview. Let me start by saying that the SeaDrome is the world’s only Tesla-powered floating radio station. It roams the Atlantic sending out a one million watt signal capable of reaching halfway around the globe. Being ZXR’s onboard composer and music director I alone am responsible for what goes out over the airwaves. As an artist my sole purpose is to create the finest electronic sound sculptures I am capable of producing for the station. Some may say that I have fallen short of this goal but as the SeaDrome is a unique creation in an increasingly conformist world I feel compelled to create the most unique sounds I can for broadcast.

As for my style I have no name for it. Dr. Zarkov likes to call it lo-fi sci-fi for your Hi-Fi. The style could probably be traced back to the countless hours I spent as a child ‘composing’ on my Muson toy synthesizer which was an excellent source of incredibly cheap-sounding outer space type noises. I still have the Muson but seldom use it anymore for fear that it may finally give up the ghost. It’s at death’s door now.

2.            Dr.W:  How did the ZXR team actually come together…I mean you have quite a unique approach to fusing science, art, and broadcasting.

DS: I first met Captain Van Duesenberg after a midnight performance of my “Wow and Flutter Concerto” at the 42nd Street subway station in New York. He told me that he was the commander of Dr. Zarkov’s new floating radio station which was to be launched later that week. He also mentioned that they were looking for a music director to join them on the high seas. Having grown rather tired of performing underground I immediately offered my services. The rest as they say is history.

Dr. Zarkov is a brilliant scientist, he designed the SeaDrome entirely on his own. Unfortunately just a few weeks after we launched into the Atlantic the United States Federal Communications Commission began searching for us, claiming that we had no license to operate a one million watt transmitter. This was a ridiculous claim since we were broadcasting in the middle of the ocean far from any government jurisdiction. They continue to hunt for us nonetheless.

 But I would say that life on the SeaDrome is quite groovy actually. Supplies are delivered to us every week via Dr. Zarkov’s private magnacopter and there is always fine champagne and Beluga caviar on hand to fuel my creativity. And Dr. Zarkov’s daughter Alexia spends a lot of time on board where she can be closer to her father. She’s a fascinating young woman and we enjoy each other’s company a great deal, although the good Doctor seems to disapprove somewhat.

3.            Dr.W: You seem to have a great deal of focus on Nicola Tesla and his science, from the theoretical design of your broadcast facility, to the content of your music. You’ve even written a marvelous tribute piece, “Theme for Tesla”. Can you tell us a little bit about how that came together and the involvement of the Tesla Memorial Society?

DS: I had wanted to write a Tesla tribute for a long time but the right idea wouldn’t come to me. Then one day I came across the Tesla Memorial Society website where I first heard the beautiful eulogy speech read by Fiorello La Guardia who was mayor of New York City at the time Tesla died. In my mind I could hear music accompanying the words and immediately began writing the track. I contacted the Society asking for permission to use excerpts of the speech in my recording and I also sent them the track for their perusal. The Society’s president actually wrote to me giving his approval and thanking me for my work on Tesla. I was honoured to say the least.

4.            Dr.W: Besides Tesla, Whom else would you consider an essential influence that inspired the work you do today?

DS: Hugo Gernsback was a big influence on me. He was a prolific publisher of science fiction stories long before anyone even heard of the term. He actually coined the term “science fiction” although he preferred to call it “scientifiction”. As a young lad I was given a rather large collection of his early magazines. They’d be worth a fortune today if I still had them.

Regarding music I would have to say Kraftwerk first of all, I was greatly affected by their early albums. Klaus Schulze’s double album called “X” (“Ten”) was a major influence on me as well. I thought “Stratosfear” by Tangerine Dream was an electronic masterpiece, though I really don’t care for anything else they ever did. And I also spent a lot of time listening to vintage stereo test records. These were highly technical affairs usually filled with frequency sweeps, white noise, pink noise, all different colors of noise, sonic booms and such, really inspiring stuff.

Then there was a guy named Edd Kalehoff who was an early Moog player. The only time I ever saw him play was in a TV commercial but it had a profound impact on me, not so much for the music as for the huge modular synths, tape machines and electronic devices he was using. If you’d like to check it out I believe it’s still on YouTube somewhere. Edd looked like the coolest guy in the world surrounded by all that technology and I wanted to be that guy, minus the moustache and glasses of course, maybe a different shirt too.

5.            Dr.W: You have an unusual tone that is both old, warm and retro feeling, yet new and crisp simultaneously. For some of the ‘techies’ and music producers out there, would you be kind enough to describe a little bit about your recording process and the gear you use?

DS: I have no definitive recording process. I do use a combination of analog and digital devices which probably contributes to the ‘old/new’ feel of many of the tracks. Sometimes I’ll record certain parts directly onto reel to reel magnetic tape for added warmth and saturation before I transfer them into the digital realm. Some parts of “Frequency of Storms” were recorded onto a vintage stereo cassette deck for a truer lo-fi feel. Quite often I find that a digital synth will sound much better when first recorded in analog. Of course it all goes digital eventually but the process does impart a certain ineffable feeling to the track. One could call the tracks “analogically de-mastered” so to speak. Yes, I rather like that term and I think I’ll coin it right now. You’re my witness to this Dr. Warlock, I hereby make my claim as the man who coined the phrase “analogically de-mastered”. All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed and all that.

6.            Dr.W: Could you tell us something about the track you created (“In Robots We Trust”) for the upcoming “Rise of the Retrobots” compilation project? For starters, is that your voice opening the track?

DS: No, that is the voice of Emerson Crosley, ZXR’s on-air announcer. He and I were having a conversation one day when he mentioned that Captain Van Duesenberg once said that he didn’t trust robots because it was impossible to tell what they were thinking. I thought the line would fit the track nicely so I added it. Since this track was to be destined for a robot-oriented compilation project I wanted to create something a bit more in the style of early Kraftwerk as a sort of personal homage. I trust that imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery and not plagiarism!

Dr.W: For those who haven’t heard, “Rise of the Retrobots” is a multi-media compilation being put together by our glorious sponsors here at Other Dimension Radio, Nightmare Sound and
TAO X Productions creating unique, compelling music & sound for film and media. The call for submissions of Robot Oriented Music, Video, Animation, and Art is out there. Find out more at:  www.myspace.com/riseoftheretrobots
 
7.            Dr.W: Considering the brief telling of the legend of your Captain Van Duesenberg’s experience with the ‘Robot Mutiny’ on his trip to Tahiti, I’m just curious what is the official ZXR stance on Robots?

DS: Actually ZXR is decidedly pro-robot. Indeed, some of our best friends are robots such as Victor the Robot whose electronic grooves are among the finest I’ve heard. Captain Van Duesenberg still has some issues with robots but so would you if a dozen of them turned against you in the middle of the Pacific Ocean during a raging storm. Perhaps a better type of electrical insulation would have made all the difference but he’ll never know, will he? As I mentioned it was the good Captain himself whose words were replicated on the track “In Robots we Trust”.

8.            Dr.W: So, are there any new tracks or projects on the immediate horizon?

DS: I’ve been working for quite a while on the music for a new ballet which is to be performed entirely in zero-gravity, but it seems I shall never finish it now as the SeaDrome takes up most of my time these days. I do have several tracks in the works at the moment, one of which is some appropriate ‘please stand by’ music for those times when the station runs into technical difficulties. A seemingly simple track such as this is much harder to do well than one might realize, it’s a matter of creating just the right mood to accompany the thoughts of a listener who is waiting in anticipation for the regular broadcast to resume. Capturing a mood is everything to me. Each track needs to create a certain atmosphere. If it doesn’t then I reject the track.

9.            Dr.W: If there was one piece of gear you could add to the SeaDrome’s arsenal of sonic equipment, what would that be?

DS: Well, there are a lot of pieces of vintage gear that I would like to have. One which comes to mind is a Buchla 700 synth. I believe about twelve of them were made so they’re a little hard to find.

10.        Dr.W: What are your hopes and goals for ZXR Radio SeaDrome and your musical composition over the coming years?

DS: Whether by fate, luck or inclination I am now part of the ZXR crew. My only goal is to continue working as the artistic soul of the SeaDrome for as long at she may sail over the storm-tossed wine dark seas of time. And long may that be.

 Dr. W: At this time I need to thank you Devin, for gracing us with your time and your music, and thank all of you, for tuning in.
You’ve been listening to an interview with Sir Devin Starke of ZXR RadioSeaDrome here on Other Dimension Radio. You can learn more about ZXR RadioSeaDrome at:
http://www.myspace.com/zxrradioseadrome
 I’m Dr. Stephan Warlock bringing you music and sound from Other Dimensions.
Tonight’s fine programming has been brought to you by Nightmare Sound and TAO X Productions.
You can find out what other mad science and musical metaphysics are going down at the Nightmare Sound Laboratories by checking out:

For Other Dimension Radio this is Doctor Warlock signing off….

 This program has been sponsored by:


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Music Producers - Musical Multiple Personality Disorder



Producer's Journal
The Deep Dark Secrets of Music Production 
Nobody Wants to Talk About
Perhaps only other producers will be able to relate to this dark secret of the business, but many of us suffer from MMPD (Musical Multiple Personality Disorder).
   It starts off innocently through study of music and music appreciation, but like a gateway drug, leads artists to want to actually create music in genres outside their natural areas of expertise, to explore, collaborate, innovate, and finally bend and twist genre on it's head...And then, it's too late; you are hooked.
You start to notice it when you hear a track in a genre you never liked and suddenly have a wave of immense appreciation for the songwriting and production, or worse yet, you can re-imagine the song in an entirely different genre/arrangement. These musical "hallucinations" can have far reaching effects, including a sometimes excessive build up of interesting, but unrelated tracks in one's music catalog.
For producers who come from the performing/recording artist/band world it can be even more traumatic.
An artist with a band or specific solo project already has identity issues, often using one or more obfuscated identities to represent their 'creative selves' versus their 'business selves', and their 'everyday selves'.
   For those afflicted with MMPD, the compulsion to analyze music and engage in unsavory acts like: research, study, practice, collaboration, experimentation and ultimately becoming involved with 'foreign' genres, becomes irresistible, pulling countless producers down a long hard road of musical addiction.
For the performer turned producer, coming down from a 'one genre' focus and having to enter a beginners mind in unfamiliar territories can be a challenging transition, but the lure of "mind expanding" musical experiences often proves too compelling for an artist just leaving the exciting world of long hours, late nights and too much cigarette smoke.
   Side effects of MMPD can be a heavy level of appreciation for cultural diversity and an open mind.
Often times artists with an established following can suffer the stigma of being accused of lack of focus or betrayal of genre/fanbase. Without a community of other producers willing to come out and openly discuss this 'seamier' side of the business, an individual producer can feel isolated and lock themselves in their studios for hours if not days at a time.
If any of these symptoms or conditions sound familiar to you, you may be afflicted. You may be a producer.
Until now, it had been thought that the only cure for this affliction was a steady job doing only one kind of music (or in extreme cases, no music at all!) for the rest of their life...For some, that cure is worse than the disease.
I am happy to be able to reveal to you today, that the real cure is much simpler, free, and readily available!
The secret? Having a good sense of humor, a healthy dose of ambition and perseverance, and finding a supportive place where you can openly declare:
" I am (insert your name here) and I'm a Producer";)

Happy Holidays,
T. Reed - Composer/Music Producer

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sun is Down-TAOX Stars Mix by TAOXProductions

   Sun is Down-TAOX Stars Mix  by  TAOXProductions

Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band - Sun is Down - TAOX Stars Mix
Remix by: T. Reed - TAO X Productions
Submission for "Sun is Down" Remix Contest -  12/12/09
          Celebrating the release of their new Album:
               "Between My Head and the Sky"

As licensed under the Creative Commons 3.0
by Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band

Sunday, November 29, 2009

TAO X Productions Online! 11/29/09

Official TAO X Productions Website now online!
After much tribulation, procrastination, and frequent 'conflustrication' (nope, not a word, ...yet;), I finally retooled the TAO X Productions website.
New easy to access flash audio and video samples, project links, and a sleek new design are finally available.
The Shopping and Newsletter features are not fully functional just yet. At the moment they are still a world of code I have to finish grappling with, but I'm well on the way and should have those aspects ironed out before long.
As a long time practitioner of DIY philosophy, it can be both frustrating and rewarding to pick up new software from scratch and tickle the edge of code, while trying to get regular projects done. Web work can be so time consuming and meticulous!
All that said, I hope I've managed to create an enjoyable and useful space for clients, fans, and new viewers to experience a piece of my world as a composer/artist/musician/producer. As time permits I will upgrade and improve the site to better serve the developing needs of my clients and the general needs of the multimedia, post production, music and entertainment industry.
I want to thank everyone who shows interest and visits my sites/blogs etc.
For clients I hope to bring a unique flavor that really helps lift their projects/campaigns to their highest potential. For listeners and fans, I hope you all enjoy my eclectic collection of odd bits, albums, and video work from throughout my career/life as an Artist/Musician/Composer.
I thank you for your ears and your support!
Best Wishes,



T. Reed - Composer/Music Producer
TAO X Productions
Nightmare Sound Lab
TAO X on Twitter

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Retrobots of the Month: Thankful for Dynamic Duobots

Alright, This Thanksgiving I am thankful to be able to work in the field of music and art (for 20-plus years and tracking). I am also Thankful to all creators of Monster and Robot masterpieces like the following video for " Positive Contact".
Yeah, this may be a few years old but it is seriously cool. Awesome animation and a most brilliant "Gamer" hook to it from Intergalactic Hip Hop heroes, Deltron 3030


On the other side of the World we have the second half of this month's Dynamic Duobots, a superior animator from Argentina, Federico Alvarez and his exceptional giant Robot alien invasion short: Ataque de Pánico! (Panic Attack!) 2009 (produced by: Aperato Post).It doesn't hurt to be backed by British Film Composer John Murphy and his incredible song,
"In a Heartbeat"(as heard in"28 Days Later" theme /"Dr. Who" etc.)
This is just one of the most awesome animated SciFi shorts ever!


Till next time...same Bot channel;)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Godzilla Stop Motion Animation/Score/SFX Test

I ran across this stop motion animation test featuring none other than the Big 'G' himself, with models and animation by Stu Venom. I asked permission to use his work as the basis for an exercise for one of my intern/students in the art of music for film.

This clip features models of Super Godzilla vs HyperGezora in battle.
You can find more about Stu's stop motion animation project at:

http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/chokaijugojira/

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rob Zombie 11/19/09

Rob Zombie brought his Hellbilly Deluxe II tour to Milwaukee last night.

I missed Captain Clegg & the Night Creatures, but Nekromantix a hot psychobilly act, featured Lux, an incredible female drummer (who can give any man I know a run for his money on the double kick drum game!)
This was one of my all time favorite shows! Featuring the man himself, with John 5 on Guitar (Marilyn Manson), Tommy Clufetos on Drums (Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent), and longtime Zombie bassist Piggy D. , the show was a stellar example of tight experienced performers with a great sound.

Forgive the lame cell phone cam pics, but I was going to enjoy the show, not be a photographer. For those who want a bigger taste of the Zombie flavor, check out Rob's YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/robzombie
And his Official Site: http://www.robzombie.com/

And no, we are not related;) We are the same age, and share similar influences, but any resemblance to any Zombies either living or now un-dead is purely coincidental.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Guns, Girls, and Giant monsters - Assault Girls - Another Mamoru Oshii TKO

I think I love this movie and I haven't even seen it yet.
Here's why:

Did I mention, this movie has it all! The 3 Gs: Guns, Girls, and Giant Monsters. Don't know that I need to say more, but for those that need convincing, take into account that it is a Mamoru Oshii film ( The same guy responsible for the groundbreaking "Ghost in the Shell", Avalon, and perhaps less well known, but no less intriguing and bizarre "The Red Spectacles" (1987). The music was done by Kenji Kawai. http://www.kenjikawai.com
In case you are not convinced yet:
Check out the trailer:


"Assault Girls" is scheduled for a 12/19/09 Japanese release. I can't wait to get it here!
Horror and SciFi writer, Robert Hood usually beats me to the punch on these hot new films, I just toss one or two in that really strike my fancy. You can check out his fine blog @ http://undeadbrainspasm.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Kaijusonic Update

Kaijusonic - Release Delayed
Well the idea was to arbitrarily post Halloween as a deadline for this project...The reality is that some film project and festival deadlines and priorities stepped in the way. Not so out of the ordinary in this crazy biz;) That said, I want to make this a spectacular project with lots of fun cool merchandise and an incredible collection of fine monster music so, I am going to take the time I need to make sure this is worth the wait! I promise it will be MONSTROUS!!! I will post a new release date when I've had more time to give this project the focused attention it deserves and I'm sure a financing and distribution chain is in place.
More on this soon...


Kaijusonic Team - Nightmare Sound/TAO X Productions

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween


Nightmare Sound Lab and TAO X Productions will be back shortly with
more music , film, art and all around fun Monster Creep stuff!
Recuperating from a frantic sleepless week of Dialog, Music,
Foley and Sound FX
recording, editing and mixing for a short film called
“Four Cups of Joe”,
destined for the film festival circuit!

Be back after a day of sleep or so;)
Best,
T.Reed - TAO X Productions ~ Nightmare Sound Lab

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The State of The Independent Record Label

Recently, on a professional Industry group, someone posted the question, "Whatever happened to all the pioneering record labels?" I thought I would try and give some perspective on that topic here.


There is one problem that has always been a problem in this industry..but even more so today:

Investment and operating capital, or just plain simply: MONEY! For years I have been trying to set the framework for just such a pioneering label. I did some A&R consulting for a label in the past and got to see first hand the pretty ugly financial truth to operating a label. From that vantage it's quite easy to see why there aren't a million pioneering labels out there. Problem #1: Distributors don't pay fast enough, or at all. Shelf space is finite, subject of fierce competition, and being downsized and out-dated more each day. And returns can crush a label owner and come unexpectedly at any time from a distributor.

Now, during this technological 'weeding out' phase where all these new "models" for distribution and marketing (iTunes, etc.) are competing for dominance in the market, we are in an odd flux where no one is quite sure what the rules are, and, as usual, the established "powers that be" are fighting desperately to regain control of and/or co-opt the innovations that were created specifically to circumvent their system in the first place.

Right now most people with the entrepreneurial spirit, experience, and technical capacity to run a label are busy throwing down in their craft and maintaining financial solvency. IMHO a couple of things need to coincide to create the circumstances that can foster a successful "Pioneer" or alternative label:

1. Money: But that's not enough on its own... you could give someone 100K to get operating and when that money ran out and they were waiting to get paid by distributors, the repo men would already be coming gut the label's office.

2. Research and Experimentation: New distribution methods and their roles in the emerging evolution of this industry need to be studied and paid attention to. A new label pioneer will have to be clear on how they are going to divide their energy between divergent markets and distribution methods.

3. Cooperation: A community of Artists and Labels being innovative and proactive in marketing (viral and otherwise). Artists have got to get over the notion that getting signed to a label means having everything done for you, and Labels need to be in tune with the Art, Artists, the audience, the markets and the money side simultaneously, if a label is to be more than a part-time expensive, time consuming hobby with every bit as many liabilities as a major label (a lawsuit for copyright infringement looks exactly the same when it arrives on your desk as when it arrives at Sony...only difference is the average indie label doesn't have an army of attorneys on retainer. To really make a splash that gets sufficient marketing attention (even for a niche market) it requires co-mutual and creative partnerships and activity that moves that agenda forward with grace and purpose.

4. A Market (with enough disposable income to be customers):

However odd or eclectic one's "niche" might be, a label has to find their market and get them to the door with cash in hand.

5. Luck: Yup, good ol fashioned luck…to be in the right place at the right time, to meet the right people, to sign the right Artists, to hit a market trend just before the ride is about to begin with a quiver full of just the right arrows to hit that mark.

So while this laundry list of the complications and obstacles to running a successful label seems daunting, there are some, myself included, who are working to stir the air enough to start creating the conditions for that perfect storm…In this economic environment however, the process becomes even more lengthy and challenging, no matter what clever angle you come up with. The prize will go to those who have the time, passion, skill, money, and perseverance to weather the economical and technological storm that is creating our current condition, and to be lucky enough to create or choose a business model that works.

Here’s wishing the best of luck to all those taking the time to make the effort!

T. Reed – TAO X Productions - Nightmare Sound Laboratory

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Retrobots of the Month - Crazy Robot Fight Club

This Month I am featuring some great stuff (some of which feature tight music tracks) from the Crazy Robot Fight Club category. Lets start with an incredibly cool clip covering the Robo One Championships in Tokyo.



Next up 2007 Robot of the Year... Replacing humans in the workplace so people have more time to play second life online;) Hope they don't make an army of giant versions of the Scorpion robots shown here!



Here's one from the 2009 Kondo Battles sponsered by Kondo Kagaku a hobby-robot company.
No cool music, but much cool info and fighting robots!



And finally lets add just a little crazy and stir it with some dancing, some bad-ass stop motion animation, Transformers and The Dukes of Hazzard and see what amazing French-Canadian Director/Animator/Filmmaker Patrick Boivan can come up with (In the form of Fighting Robots that is!) Check out more work by Patrick at:
http://www.youtube.com/user/PatrickBoivin#p/p



All for now in Retrobot World:) Till Halloween!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Strange World - Cool Head


STRANGE WORLD ~ COOL HEAD

Taking on an Economy & Industry in Flux

For a lot of us (inside and outside the music and entertainment industry), this has been a strange and harrowing year fraught with economic adjustments and new challenges.

The music business has been undergoing a dramatic shift for at least a decade and still hasn't come to settle. More than ever, it has been incumbent upon creative entrepreneurs to carve out their own paths, and while it is true that artists now have many more tools and resources available to them to become more self-sufficient in business and production, it doesn't change the level of time, effort, and skill required to find a comfortable place in the industry.

While it's easy to see how one might feel like everything is falling apart, a far more valuable position to take would be to consider this a time for recalibration, reevaluation and evolution . This economic readjustment is, and has been, coming for some time now. New methods and mediums are still fighting for their role in the new economy, and, as always, some will flourish and some will fade.

What many of us who are working as freelance, self-employed creatives can take some heart in, is that things have not essentially changed that much for us. We wake up every day without any absolute guaranty that the jobs will be there, the projects will be paying and plentiful. Everyday is a challenge to find the work and keep things rolling even when it isn’t readily available.

Do I have any definitive answers? No. Who does? This is a great big recalibration long overdue and it is coinciding with massive technological leaps and shifts that have made the ground floor unstable for all kinds of businesses including the entire” Recording Industry”…

Remember that song “Video Killed the Radio Star” (The first MTV video ever!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWtHEmVjVw8

Yup, they were talking about the same kind of industry shifts back in 1979.


Every artist, era, market and circumstance is different, so there are no definitive answers.

I can only tell you the way I’m dealing with these times and inform you of the outcome of my experiments and efforts as they unfold. As I dive into this "Strange World", my motto is to keep a cool head, and figure out how to turn adversity into advantage.

The one thing that having less work than one might like provides, is the space and time to realize and address a lot of unfinished aspects of both the business and creative ends that tend to get left behind when the clock is always ticking on a client’s project. Of course one must prioritize making sure all ends are met, but we can all take an inauspicious time and use it wisely to set up for a win further down the road. Do more studying, research, and social media networking. Take steps to make your studio cleaner, more ergonomic, and efficient. Learn those keystrokes that could save you valuable time on your project work. Cut those new demos that you’d been meaning to get around to. Cut up and file those field recordings that are sitting on your media shelf and turn them into valuable organized assets in your sample library. Put together an improved and upgraded web interface. Talk to some new people and brainstorm. The list can go on and on, and many of these tasks don’t even require capital, just the will and the time.

Maybe now is just the time to take on new challenges. Attempt to achieve the unlikely… Yes, why not? What have you got to lose? There is no amount of moping, complaining or worrying that will ever float a boat, so if the old formula isn’t working try something new.

If you have faith in yourself, now is the time to invest it. If you don’t, then now is the time to earn it and get it! A lot of us have hidden masterpieces - novels, movies, songs, etc. locked up inside, waiting for the day when we have enough security and time to pursue them…All an illusion that never seems to arrive no matter where you are.

Perhaps the best time is NOW!

For myself, I’ve taken on a tall plate from the ‘all of the above’ column. This year I finished a screenplay in the action comedy genre, written with a collaborator/colleague and long time friend. We have now begun preparing a business plan to support that effort. With several music projects, a new compilation CD project (Rise of the Retrobots), and some sound design for a short film all on my plate in October, I have a lot to do and look forward to updating you with the results as these, and other projects progress.

I’d also like to hear your stories and experiments of surfing the entertainment industry during these strange and uncertain times. Feel free to share your appropriate stories, ideas and experiments as comments to this article.

Here’s wishing you all the best in your creative endeavors and careers.


T. Reed - Composer/Sound Designer/Music Producer

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Retrobots of the Month - Robomercials 2

Retrobots of the month for August brought to you by Nightmare Sound and the "Rise of the Retrobots" multi-media compilation project.

Any kid in their right mind would love a set of these guys which hit the streets just a few years before I would have been old enough to appreciate them.



The Japanese however, had developed a massive robot toy culture that went way back. As a product of wild imaginations and a million copycats, there were robot and monster TV series and fleets of accompanying products some of which made their way to American markets...
(Note the strange inclusion of Godzilla in this completely unrelated toy series/franchise)



And some of which didn't...



Perhaps with the endless barage of cool, cheap and cheesy TV shows like this one:



And the extreme expectations some of these TV commercials put on these Robot's abilities and interactive scope with their audience...





Enticing children with promises of massive destructive power;)
Perhaps that is what's got this next guy SOOO excited!



All for now till next month's Retrobots return. Till then, please go play at some of the ancillary laboratories:
Rise of the Retrobots on Myspace
Rise of the Retrobots Home
Monster Makers Lab
TAO X Productions
Kaijusonic

Thursday, August 13, 2009

He's back...

Yeah, I disappeared there for a couple weeks;)
This is turning out to be a very busy Summer indeed.
In addition to all the music projects I have culminating simultaneously, I am also working on a screenplay for (oddly enough) an dark action comedy with a writing partner in San Francisco. Over the several weeks I have been in the process of making revisions in preparation for some film festivals. My writing partner produced an independent film for director Adam Orman last year called Fifth Form. (Sorry, again NOT a horror film at all) BUT... Fifth Form was accepted and will be screening next at:

Indiefest USA (Anaheim). AMC Downtown Disney, Thurs. Aug 27, 10pm
More to the point...We have a very close to solid new script/screenplay available to pitch by the week of the festival. We are working towards developing this screenplay into a new independent film, even as the script is being completed and fine tuned. I will announce more about this project when I can. After the fest I will be back to more horror oriented subjects, Rise of the Retrobots updates and other project news. Till then I will be busy doing all the screenwriting/editing I can. I'll still try and stab in article or two in between :)
T. Reed - TAO X Productions - Nightmare Sound Laboratory

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Retrobots of the Month - Robomercials 1

I have a ton of writing to do this weekend , so before I take off to one of my secret remote laboratories where I can work without distraction, I wanted to leave you with a new feature brought to you by the "Rise of the Retrobots" multi-media compilation project. Please enjoy these Retro Robot Flashbacks. Some of these may even be lurking in your closets! Remember kids, the Robots we make today could become the Overlords of tomorrow!
So be careful what you build! And be kind to your Robots:)

At the time of its making, this robot cost enough to feed an average family for a week, (which is probably why you don't see too many around today). That might be a good thing considering how much damage they could do in a Robot Uprising (Providing they could afford the batteries).



According to the commercial, "Ideal's Robot Commando is here to help you!", at least if you are a boy bent on World domination! Apparently 'Ideal' had the market cornered on creepy mesmerizing robots designed to train a legion of grade school children to find a gleeful pass time in conquering, crushing and destroying the defenses of Earth. Ideal for Robot propaganda preparing the youth for the next Robot Uprising coming to a town near you soon!



I discovered one of these 2xl Robots(sans power supply) with a Marvel comics cartridge...If I can batterize it it looks like a great candidate for circuit bending AND tape looping!
What could possibli go wrongggggg...bleet- do..beep kkkkchztrrrt*$$#@!Excelsior ...popsizzleburningmeltysmell.....;)



That's all for this week kids, see ya when I get back from the remote lab.
In the meantime go play at some of the ancillary laboratories:
Rise of the Retrobots on Myspace
Rise of the Retrobots Home
Monster Makers Lab
TAO X Productions
Kaijusonic

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rise of the Retrobots Update and blog notes

Rise of the Retrobots Update for 07/10/09



Greetings Robot, Monster, and Music Freaks & Connoisseurs,
This update is a personal note to inform everyone of the status of the Rise of the Retrobots project, The Monster Makers Lab and the Nightmare Sound Blog.
I have received several excellent contacts with interested Artists some of whom are busy working hard and some even having already submitted tracks which have proven qualified to be eligible for selection.
All three of these projects were launched simultaneously this June (2009) in a fit of ambition and artistic passion. There are still some communication and networking structures I need to establish to make this easier for me to communicate with all participants (and potential participants and sponsors) so that I don't have to spend all my time re-iterating the same ideas via different forums/formats and individual emails. So bear with me and please participate in the alignment as the infrastructure gets molded to make this all smooth and easy.
What is in place currently is as follows:

I have already established a decent FTP solution for submissions, important file exchanges, and
Artists who want to collaborate. The details of which will be provided as I get contact from the individual Artists.
To help centralize communications, please send all correspondence and inquiries to:
retrobots@nightmaresound.com

Postings of latest news and instructions on compilation project are available at:
RISE OF THE RETROBOTS OFFICIAL SITE UPDATES
http://nightmaresoundlab.blogspot.com/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/monstermakerslab/

In addition to some duplicate Blog info and updates, some sample excerpts of the types of tracks and other media that will be on this project is available at:
RISE OF THE RETROBOTS on MySpace
(Currently there is 1 sample available: "Kill Robots Rise")...More examples will be added as submissions are completed and accepted.

Because of the greater scope, the uniqueness, and complexity of this multi-media compilation project, I am still in the process of honing down the best system and guidelines to bring everything together smoothly and create an enormously cool project we can all be proud of. My sincerest wish is that all who choose to participate and can contribute a quality piece and/or some assistance promoting the project will be able to use this project as their own promotional tool and have an excellent creative experience.

Of course, all my regular work and pursuit of paying prospects must continue right alongside these projects that I foster out of love for the subject matter and the collaboration involved.
I am currently wrapped up in a critical phase of screenwriting with a partner where some deadlines are involved, so I may be a bit sparse with updates and communications over the next 2 weeks in July, but please sign on to publicly follow the Nightmare Sound Lab Blog to keep posted and informed, and to be eligible for contests.
NEW CONTEST WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON! SO KEEP YOUR EYES PEALED
I will do my best to keep things coming and keepin it fresh and exciting!
Keep those submission ideas coming!
Thanks!

T. Reed - TAO X Productions - Nightmare Sound Laboratory

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Monster Madness & the Book that Started It All!


"A Pictorial History of Horror Movies" by Denis Gifford
Review by T. Reed - 2009

In 1973 Denis Gifford, a British author who wrote several books on the culture and genre of Horror and SciFi, published "The Pictorial History of Horror Movies"( © 1973/74 - Hamlyn).
I received this book as a gift as a kid less than 10 years old, and for years I carried this around , like a sacred tome, studying every word and picture .
From the original dust jacket picture one might get the mistaken impression that this was a book primarily featuring Universal's Monsters, but further inspection proves it to be far more. Most of those dust covers don't exist any more, like mine, they disintegrated. I actually recovered my copy from my parents house over 20 years later, showing the incredible wear and tear I put this thing through.
While most of the photographs in the book are black and white on cheap paper that easily yellowed, there are a few nice full page color glossies, one, most notably a full page picture from a rare and difficult to find film starring Boris Karloff called "The Sorcerers" (Tigon 1967).
The black and whites are easily every bit as fascinating, offering a good blend of images from many classic films as well as a host of rare and seldom seen images, such as pictures from Georges Melies silent films done at the edge of the 19th century, featuring amazingly well crafted demons, devils, skeletons, and assorted fantastical creatures and events, (including one of the first cinematographic ventures to to the Moon). Also striking were pictures from Terror in the Sun (Ungar 1961), and some of the Asian titles very few outside of Japan were seeing i.e. "The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch" , Living Skeleton (Schochiku 1968), and "Horror of Malformed Men" (Toei 1969).
But beyond the awesome pictorial record, there are tidbits of information and very cool and obscure facts about many of the movies and artists we are all familiar with, as well as the many of the less familiar. From Melies to Poe, from "Fiend Without a Face" to the "Mad Doctor of Blood Island" and from all across the World, Denis Gifford presented an intoxicating look into the heart of the Beast that is the Art of Horror and SciFi film-making. To my knowledge, this book is no longer in print but can still be obtained as a used book via Amazon.

T. Reed - TAO X Productions - Nightmare Sound laboratory
http://nightmaresoundlab.blogspot.com/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/monstermakerslab/
http://www.taoxproductions.com

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Arts & Business Series - Part 1- Intellectual Property

What every Artist should know about Intellectual Property & Copyrights

(And why they should care)

© 2009 - T. Reed / TAO X Productions

Before I begin, let me first present you with a brief preface and an official disclaimer.

When I started to write this article, it became clear to me that it would take more than one single quickly digestible blog snippet to cover these deep and sometimes gray uncharted waters. I have decided to release the article as part of a series, which I hope you will continue to tune in to for valuable information and insights regarding subjects of interest to professional and aspiring artists alike. For the first part of this series I want to cover intellectual property rights, including topics ranging from copyright and creative commons, to lawsuits and licensing, to sampling and seeking permissions. If that all sounds too dry, technical, and legalese for your taste, then try substituting the alternate more “Artist friendly” title/description:

“Demystifying Intellectual Property - Why my stuff should be mine, and your stuff should be yours, and how we can learn to share our work with the world, make a profit and not get ripped off along the way”.

No guarantee that reading this series will ensure success on all those levels, but armed with a little information and some diligence, you can vastly improve your odds at being in a position to take the most possible advantage of all the hard work and creativity you put into your craft.

OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER: Let me first preface by saying that I AM NOT A LAWYER! Anyone seeking absolute clarity (if that is even an available option), and actual legal authority on any subject contained inside this article should refer to the appropriate regionally based agencies i.e. U.S. Library of Congress Copyright Office (or it’s International equivalents), the artist’s performing rights organization (PRO) i.e. ASCAP, BMI, SEASAC in the U.S., (If you don’t have one or know what that is, then please, do read on!), or one’s own trusted legal council/entertainment attorney. I won’t go into detailed copyright form specifics (which vary), as these forms and the corresponding information are all readily available via the respective copyright offices in your country of residence.

I am an artist/musician/writer and general renaissance man and freak living in the U.S. who has been in the music business for 2 decades, from struggling artist to successful entrepreneur (and that can just be from one week to the next!) Even though I am approaching this article primarily from a musician’s standpoint, the concepts are generally applicable to other art forms as well, which I will touch on briefly throughout. But what I really want to achieve here is to take this subject beyond the legalese and break it down to the core issues, motivations, and attitudes that are meaningful to us all, and which often (for better or worse), guide our hand in forming our own creative path, and manifest the opportunities (or obstacles) that present themselves along the way.

PART 1 – Introduction

The one thing we should all remember, (artist or otherwise) when approaching the topic of “intellectual property”, (If your first instinct when you saw that word was to go, “What?” or simply tune it out, then this article would be ESPECIALLY helpful to you!), is that every artist is out there trying to express themselves with varying degrees of talent, ambition, and solemnity and respect (or lack thereof) regarding the creative rights of their own works and those of others. With such a broad range of attitudes and misunderstandings that abound on the subject, it’s no wonder that this becomes a world that artists prefer to avoid putting too much thought into. Believe me, skilled artists who are successful in their field are keenly aware and on top of, the terms and issues covered in this article. Their eyes would not glaze over, or stare blankly in confusion if I approached them at a party and asked them what they thought about I.P. rights issues (unless they happened to be “overly infused with the party spirit”, if you catch my drift). For all the struggling artists who are continuously grumbling that they just can’t get a break, the preceding is a very noteworthy, statement so let me repeat it: With almost no exception, “Every successful artist has at least a fundamental understanding of, and interest in, copyright law and intellectual property rights”.

Now let’s get to it. If there is any assumption one would be safe making regarding copyright and IP law, it would most likely be to assume everything you see or hear or read or that is made by man in general, belongs to someone and therefore has inherent protections under copyright, trademark, or patent law. Start there and work backwards with any of the additional verifiable facts that are concrete. There will be plenty of time to deal with gray areas.

Sampling was one of those gray areas a few years back (1980s and 90s), which is no longer AS gray. I will go into greater detail on that subject in another installment dedicated more specifically to that issue. But let’s start by tackling a short list of misnomers and misunderstandings about copyright law (at least as it stands in the United States at the time this article was written). These will begin to open up the discussion to some of the individual aspects involved in the process of understanding IP rights that I will delve deeper into in future installments of this series.

A Few Common Misnomers About Copyright Law

1. I have to file a copyright claim and pay the $30 (as of this writing) to register my song/CD/artwork/literature with the Library of Congress or my work won’t be protected.

NO, not true, once you affix your work to a physical medium you have ownership and copyright to that work. That said, it would be a whole lot easier to prove it in a court of law however, if you bit the bullet, paid the fee, and filed your paperwork.

2. If an artist doesn’t post a copyright notice on their work, then it doesn’t have a valid copyright claim and falls into Public Domain.

And that would have been true… until that law was changed in 1989 to comply with the Berne Convention. Many foreign works originally published without copyright notice before that date, that could have entered the public domain in the United States, have had their copyright restored by the URAA (Uruguay Round Agreements Act), which amended that oversight.

3. I can legally use samples of another artist’s music or clips from movies (without getting clearance) if I: (insert/select ill-founded rationalization here).

A. Only use a little section or mash it up beyond recognition.

B. Am not making any money from sales of the work in question.

C. Still believe that everything you can see or hear on the Internet should be free.

And of course the correct answer to the multiple choice is NO, NO, and NOOOO! Recent court cases have set precedent that pretty much says no to sampling any uncleared bits of anyone else’s work without permission, (and most likely clearance fees) from all interested parties. (More on this later in the series).

4. I can use a portion of someone else’s copyrighted material on a project I’m doing that is not for profit.

Really? Perhaps but only if it complies with Fair Use Doctrine and ‘Fair Use’ is a pretty limited and specific law, which you better understand clearly before ‘assuming’ anything.

And this brings us to the first rule of Intellectual Property law:

Assumption can be a very expensive legal strategy. Don’t do it.

Do your research. If every single note or sound or image you are creating isn’t absolutely painstakingly created by YOU and placed into your 100% original work, then you may want to clean up the piece or track down the appropriate parties to request permission and pay any fees required to use someone else’s material. Anyone serious about making a career out of ‘The Arts’ needs to get serious about the subjects contained in this article/series. Another good resource to help guide you in this process would be to check out the latest edition of Richard Stim’s “Getting Permission” by NOLO Books or any of their other fine books on copyright law and the IP business.

Also, make sure you read the licensing agreements on all the Royalty Free samples and loops you might use as well. They may not all have the same license agreement and specific usage might be restricted. It pays to know. Your license agreement on a royalty free loop disc is a binding contract, be sure you read it before you assume anything. And whenever in doubt, especially when something significant could be on the line, consult a qualified attorney in the area of expertise you require.


WOW, now you might be thinking “That sounds like no fun, what a pain to do all that ‘research’ and ‘reading’ and asking permission and paying fees, instead of just playing with my music toys and making cool sounds and stuff”! If those were the only thoughts that come into your head after reading this so far, then I’d re-examine your desire to make it in the industry of art and keep it just a hobby. Being an Artist who makes their living exclusively from art/music is one of the hardest jobs and courses in continuing education one can engage in. If it were easy, everyone would be millionaire artists, so prepare to dive in, do some extra work and get yourself (and your mindset) ready, so you can not only enjoy what you are doing, but also reap the benefits and rewards from doing professional work that is legally and ethically straight up. If you do your homework ahead of time, and do your job right, you may never have to experience the bitter pill of being on the wrong side of a lawsuit (which by the way tends to be either side, a litigious strategy is a costly money and time drain whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant!

OK I’ve laid out a lot of SCARY warnings and said a lot of NO, so next time tune in for the Arts & Business series where I will provide some Yes answers!

T. Reed - TAO X Productions -– Nightmare Sound Laboratory

www.taoxproductions.com