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Hello! Today we are joined by Brandon Schott, who has been featured on SKOM before and Andrew Curry of Curry Cuts fame. They are collaborating on the release of Brandon’s new album Crayons & Angels and were kind enough to take some time out of their busy schedules to share their thoughts on the process with us here at Some Kind Of Muffin. The Kickstarter ends July 28th so hop on over there when you’re all done here. Thanks! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/444321026/brandon-schotts-crayons-and-angels


Crayons & Angels

OK, first thing’s first. How did you two get together for the first Curry’s Cuts?

Brandon: Andrew and I first connected when he was putting together his compilation Drink A Toast To Innocence. I contributed an Andrew Gold song called Thank You For Being A Friend.

When did you start thinking about collaborating on Crayons & Angels?

Brandon: When Andrew started working on the Kickstarter for that record (Drink A Toast To Innocence) we kept in contact and I worked with him on the music video for my cut, offered some promotional energy toward the project, etc. But at the core of it, he and I just hit it off – shared similar interests / music tastes and just became friends in the years since..

Andrew, what made you want to work on an all original album?

Andrew:I loved doing the two multi-artist compilations that I did. Not only did I get to work with several dozen great artists, but I got a real crash course in putting projects like those together. But I always knew that working on an album by a single musician and comprised of original material was what I wanted to do next. It doesn’t mean I won’t return to the multi-artist format. (I’m kicking around ideas for my next compilation as we speak.) But I want Curry Cuts to do more than just that.

Why go with Kickstarter?

Andrew: My previous records were both funded in part by Kickstarter, so I was familiar with the ins and outs of how to put a campaign together. It’s a fun way to get your fans involved in the process. And while there’s lots of cool stuff available to people who pledge, I’ve mostly used it as an easy way to pre-order a record.

What do you each get from this partnership?

Andrew: As for what I get from our partnership, I feel like this more of a real collaboration than my compilations were. When I was working with 27 musicians at a time, I couldn’t really afford to bounce ideas off of all of them. I had to be more unilateral in my decision making. But on Crayons & Angels, it’s been a real opportunity to bounce ideas of a single person. And my ideas are all in service of Brandon’s vision of the record. That’s been great for me and for Curry Cuts.

Brandon: This is the first time I’ve had label support on a record, and it’s been a true blessing working with Andrew. I told everyone on the team from day one that this was a no stress project – and I gotta say, working with Curry Cuts in that regard has been perfect. We’re very much in sync with the energy we want to put out there, our taste in music and references – I can bounce ideas off him, choices for singles, how to build momentum. It’s been really rewarding. Plus, like I said – we just like each other, and have a friendship rolls on through it all

Where does the title “Crayons & Angels” come from?

Brandon: Crayons & Angels comes from a line in Every Little Song, which was written about the amazing artist Judee Sill. She has a song called Crayon Angel which I reference in mine, and it seemed to fit the tone of the record – a little playful, a little spiritual.

Who did the album art? Is the alien an angel? Is Brandon the alien?

Brandon:

The album art was compiled by my wife Michelle, who’s done almost all of my visuals since the first record but the illustration on the front cover – that’s from a print I’ve had hanging in my house for almost 10 years by an artist name Alexander Scott Hughes. One day, as I was deep into the making record I walked by the framed picture and it just seemed to hit. Here’s a guy, a little out of place – not quite fitting into his surroundings but doing his best to make it work. There’s a humor to the way he’s drawn, with his candy offering and rumpled suit – but there’s also a melancholy to him – like he doesn’t quite believe that he belongs.

There’s a lot of that on this record, the balance between light and dark – the longing and the celebration – this image just seemed to tie it all together. I was speaking with my buddy Ben Eisen not too long ago about how many of the songs from the 60s have this pop varnish to them, yet there’s a sadness that lurks underneath. There’s an innocent quality on the surface, but a real struggle underneath. Brian Wilson was a master of that, Warmth Of The Sun-Please Let Me Wonder… I feel like this record plays into that spirit a lot.

What were the challenges that arose for both of you during this project?

Brandon: The biggest challenge for me is a product of our time – getting our voice heard within a choir of talented projects. There are so many amazing records coming out constantly, the trick is always to find a way to differentiate yours from the rest. That’s the trick – marketing and navigation, but then I’m at my best when I’m making music in my basement or on stage…but being a songwriter these days is so much more than that, and that’s my struggle. Still, I try to have fun with it and I hope that the energy I put out there in this part of the process reflects that.

Andrew: I find that the challenges for me are to expand the audience for my projects beyond the circle of very loyal and supportive friends I’ve made here on social media. It’s undeniably rewarding to have been able to make connections with people on Facebook. But how, then, do I build on that? It’s not necessarily a question I have the answer for just yet.

What was the recording process like?

Brandon: The recording process was truly an international affair, maybe one of my most collaborative efforts. Most of the record was recorded and arranged at my home in California, but we had various tracks flown in from Nashville, Bay City (MI), and even the UK where Nick Heyward threw down his background vocals on BETTER VERSION OF ME. But the bulk of the sculpting, arranging and tightening was finished off here in California. At the end of the record, my buddy Andy Reed mixed whatever I hadn’t and mastered the record to tape at Reed Recording in Michigan.

Any chance of Brandon appearing on future Curry Cuts compilations?

Andrew: As for working again with Brandon, I’d be delighted. As I said earlier, I have ideas for future projects, and Brandon is welcome to participate in whatever capacity he’d like!

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Check out Jeremy Bell’s super cool invention

And, of course, he has a Kickstarter

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Today we have an interview with Jason Hay who has been working on a documentary for a number of years. I want to go back to how SKOM became what it is now before we jump into this interview. This blog was something I created to have a music focus that was just sharing things I found and liked. A few years ago I had the idea that I could interview all of these people I knew in real life or via the internet who were really talented people and maybe help them get their music out there. While today’s interview isn’t music related it is in that same spirit. I work with Jason and he and I have had opportunity to talk a lot about creativity and inspiration. He is a very creative person and is striving to do more, be more, and share more. Please enjoy this interview and then click the Kickstarter link at the end to get more info about the documentary and contribute.

 


 

What was it like the first time you saw Grey Gardens?

I’m kind of embarrassed to say that I didn’t want to watch Grey Gardens at first, all I thought I knew about it was it was a story about two “crazy” women who sing to each other. I did, however, know about the Maysels brothers who had done the film Gimme Shelter and I had really enjoyed that.
So I agreed to watch it. From the first shot in the film I was entranced by the house and the ladies who lived in it.
I am the type of person that gets obsessed  with a subject. I think I watched the film over a dozen times in a period of a few months, trying to absorb it.

Grey Gardens has inspired a musical and a docudrama. Why do you think it has endured? 

I think the relationship between mother and daughter living with and for only each other that was captured in the documentary is an amazingly complex one. Both familiar and totally foreign at the same time. That, and I feel this more on the east coast maybe, but almost anything related to JFK is going to make for a great story. (The Beales where aunt and cousin to Jackie Kennedy, the relationship being via the Bouiver side.) I also feel the house itself is a character that draws people into the story.

How did The Marble Faun Of Grey Gardens come about? 

Jerry Torre

Jerry Torre 1975

In Nov 2009 I was working as a chef in Boston and really ready for a change in my life. After researching the remaining cast of Grey Gardens I found Jerry to be a very interesting part of the story,an outsider and a runaway who found the most remarkable women and setting to run away to.

I reached out to Jerry via email with, at that time, a proposal for a book about his life, because I had only made films for myself and didn’t really think it was possible for me. Jerry agreed to meet with me and at the same time I re-established a friendship from high school, Steven Pelizza, who was also living in NYC at the time. Shortly after we decided to make a documentary because we had such a huge and very visual story to tell. It is also true I was very attracted to learning about and exploring New York City where a vast bit of the filming takes place.
We were, and continue to be, extremely lucky to be working with Albert Maysels and the Maysels institute in Harlem. That’s part of the experience that will always be amazing to me. I was a chef during the week and taking a bus on my weekends to meet and work with Jerry and Steve was filming pretty much on a weekly basis for over a year. It was the most energetic and exciting time for me; the act of making the movie.

How is Jerry doing?

Jerry is doing amazing. He is an artist on many levels. His most preferred medium is stone. He is and has been for several years now carving at the Arts Students League. He has been working on completing a book and continues to correspond with people on his website themarblefaun.com He is an amazingly humble and gentle person and his recollections of his time at Grey Gardens is beautiful. But really he has had an amazingly rich life on top of that. He stays very grounded and it’s funny he still sounds a lot like the very young Jerry most people know from the documentary. He has been portrayed on and off Broadway in Grey Gardens by something like 80 different actors from North Carolina to Japan. It’s crazy.

What was the process like?

It’s been a friendship, so ups and downs, but having never done this before we have all stayed together really well. Learning about people has been the most interesting part of the whole thing.

What do you want people to walk away with after watching Marble Faun?

We try to surprise people I think a bit, there is a lot about Jerry that goes beyond just his art and time at Grey Gardens. There are some fairly serious social issues that we touch on that are very important to both Jerry and the whole team. I feel we do a good job of balancing lighter and heavier topics without preaching or imposing judgement.

What did you learn in making this film?

Without sounding to corny, I hope, I learned you really can make large change in your life when you are ready to. I wanted a change from being a chef, I wanted an adventure and I knew I wanted to go back to making art in some form and I did. That kind of confidence opened up a lot of doors for me at the time. Amazing things were happening to me at the time. It’s when I reconnected with my junior high crush who became my wife during that year of filming. It was just a really incredible time I’ll never forget.

Jerry carving at the Arts Students League

Jerry carving at the Arts Students League

Where are you in the process and what can people do to help?

Well, it’s an excellent time to be asked that. The film has been screened twice, in NYC and on the west coast. We are pleased with the film and have heard positive reviews. We are planning on self disturbing our film, but have run up on the acquisition of rights for some material we used to visually enrich the telling of our story. We are currently running a campaign to raise money for the rights. I like to look at it like people being able to pre-order the film for themselves. I hope it’s a way for people who believe in the project can help out.

When are you hoping to release Marble Faun?

We are ready to release the film now via digital download and DVD. It’s very exciting  BUT very frustrating. Because we don’t have the money for the rights yet.
But we indeed have a film we are very proud of and have worked on now for four years.

Assuming this project gets funded and all goes well what is next?

I will continue to work on many different types of art projects with my beautiful wife Heather. We have plans on starting a farm-based artist retreat in Oregon where we live. I would also like to host a fundraiser with Jerry and our film at the center with the money going to various charities. That has always been a large thing for Jerry and the team that the film could give back.

Please visit The Marble Faun Of Grey Gardens‘ Kickstarter page and contribute today: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/aggregatepictures/the-marble-faun-of-grey-gardens

Also like the movie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marblefaungreygardens

 

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I hadn’t heard of Melissa Haizlip or SOUL! until a friend shared the Kickstarter project for Mr. SOUL! And I am so glad he did. Thanks Airrion! First, a little background on this amazing woman and then we jump right in!

MELISSA HAIZLIP (Producer/Director) first collaborated with her uncle Ellis Haizlip on Three by Three for Great Performances: Dance In America. After a 25-year career as a professional Broadway stage performer and film and television actor, Melissa began focusing her talents behind the camera. Her film “40,” for which she was the Casting Director, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2010, the Osaka European Film Festival 2010 and received special jury mention at the Palm Springs International Film Festival 2011. Melissa is a Film Independent Project Involve Fellow, Class of 2012-2013, and a Firelight Media Producers’ Lab Fellow.


What are your memories of SOUL! growing up?

I was a little girl when Uncle Ellis moved into our Upper West Side home in New York City, around the time SOUL! was born. I remember eating oatmeal at midnight with my uncle and the guest stars he would bring home after taping the show. I would bask in the glow of all these intelligent, glamorous black people, mesmerized by my uncle’s coterie of magical friends. It would be years before I would learn that it was James Earl Jones who had pinched my cheek, or the orphaned children of Malcolm X, whom Uncle Ellis was babysitting and brought over for a play date.

Why do you feel it is important to tell this story?

Mr. SOUL! is an exploration of the birth of diversity in cultural expression and its very existence on national television programming. Ellis Haizlip’s story continues to be relevant, as the battle for black and diverse representation and ownership in media remains a hotly contested topic.

What do you hope those who are new to SOUL! will get from the movie? What do you hope those familiar with SOUL! will get?

Our specific goals for this project are to bridge the history gap for our African-American youth, start a dialogue, and encourage people to understand SOUL!’s contemporary relevance. The state of the media today is homogenous at best. The film will dialogue around how things are today. How did we get here? SOUL! the series was a powerful tool for creating social change.

“More than 40 years after the Soul! experiment, national media still fail to capture the rich, textured, diverse, and racially distinct elements of American life,” says adviser Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of political science at Tulane University. “Haizlip believed that liberation required cultural representation. Given that such representation is still lagging, we are forced to wonder about the state of racial liberation and American equality. This [Mr. SOUL!] film is part of the work necessary to think both about how far we have come and how far we have yet to travel in the struggle to achieve American fairness.”

Ellis Haizlip (Left) interviews Amiri Baraka on SOUL! – photo courtesy of the Haizlip Family

Our hopes for the impact for this project land squarely in education. We have met with two educational distributors: Filmmakers Library and California Newsreel. Both distributors have suggested that the film’s social and political themes are relevant and important to the academic community. We also believe it is ideally suited for college courses in Broadcast Journalism and Communications.

“We consider [the Mr. SOUL!] film’s theme, the struggle for recognition of African-Americans on broadcast television, to be extremely important to the academic community which we serve,” says Linda Gottesman, Co-President of Filmmakers Library. “We anticipate that the film will have great relevance as an educational tool in universities and college libraries, and could be used in the syllabi of college courses ranging from Media Studies, to African-American Studies, to American History.”

What’s it been like working on this film?

Exhilarating and exhausting, with a very steep learning curve. Though every day is a challenge and an adventure, basically I never get to sleep anymore.

What, if anything, has surprised you the most?

Finding a photographer named Alex Harsley, a supremely talented artist who was assigned to cover SOUL! in 1971, who also took pictures of Ellis with his family. That series happened to capture beloved images of my family and me in our apartment in New York circa 1970-71. I’ve been looking for the person who took those photos for over 40 years. At last we were reunited after 41 years on Facebook, and he still has his gallery in the East Village of New York, with all the original pictures! We plan to collaborate on the film, with his spectacular images from SOUL!, as well as from the period.

Do you feel that there is, so to speak, a SOUL!-shaped hole in modern media?

We haven’t had a show like SOUL! on television since it went off the air. SOUL! emerged during a time of turbulence and intense social upheaval in America. The 60s were stimulated by a surge of Black national and cultural consciousness, buoyed by a movement steeped in social empowerment and cultural upliftment. SOUL! would become an artistic and political conduit for Blacks to transition out of Jim Crow, and beyond Civil Rights. Amiri Baraka once described SOUL! as “a national Afro-American media institution created by the conscious determination of the Afro-American struggle.” Without an easily defined or overt struggle or movement, coupled by today’s climate of censorship tied to television ad sales and marketing, one can readily imagine why a controversial series such as SOUL! has not existed since.

Ellis Haizlip (Right) interviews Al Green on SOUL! – photo courtesy of NY Daily News Archives

Is there any show currently offering what SOUL! once did?

Much like the Nikki Giovanni/James Baldwin interviews on SOUL!, the show “Iconoclasts” takes a page out of the SOUL! playbook, with iconic guest artists interviewing fellow artists. If a modern-day SOUL! existed today, it would look like nothing else on television: bold, daring and original. Who would guest-host a show like that? I could imagine multi-hyphenate producer artist/entrepreneur Will.I.Am hosting a contemporary version of SOUL! Contemporary guests might be British novelist Zadie Smith, author/screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper, performers Esperanza Spalding and Corinne Bailey Rae, rapper Whiz Khalifa, composer/trumpet player Terence Blanchard, journalist Toure, or the new director of the Schomburg Center, Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad to name a few.

What are your hopes for the movie?

Once completed, the film will be offered to PBS. Distribution plans for all territories include a semi-theatrical release, film festival circuit, television, educational, DVD, online and VOD.

In terms of the “take-away,” I hope Mr. SOUL! will create a dialogue and engage the community. This film will be a useful cinematic and academic tool that helps people think more clearly about the value and necessity of self-affirming media in our lives. I’d like for folks to revel in the beauty and truth of our own history represented by this cultural time capsule and goldmine of powerful images and messages. I want our African-American youth to come away from the film feeling knowledgeable of, empowered by and connected to their past, and perhaps even inspired to become the next Ellis Haizlip.

What do you need at this stage, how can people help?

We have launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com to raise money for production, so that we can keep shooting our interviews. We have until October 24 to meet our goal. Please watch the link, then post, tweet, text, share, or email it to five friends, so more folks can see the trailer and become backers. Also, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter @mrsoulthemovie. We’re also on Tumblr and Pinterest, and our website is mrsoulmovie.com. Thanks so much for your support and spreading the word about Mr. SOUL!

If you could be one piece of furniture what would it be and why?

Anything that’s mid-century modern — in terms of that era I absolutely love that design aesthetic.


I can’t thank Melissa Haizlip enough for taking time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts with Some Kind Of Muffin. Now spread the word!!! Useful links below!

Here’s the Kickstarter link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mrsoul/mr-soul-the-movie

Mr. SOUL! launch party:
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Hollywood Casting and Film
6900 Santa Monica Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90038

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Great Kickstarter. Please take a look.
‘A documentary film about the first “black Tonight Show.” Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL!’

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mrsoul/mr-soul-the-movie

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