French Trailer Music — To Defeat Them All

Jonathan Mayer

I knew if I said French, you wouldn’t be able to resist . . .

Born into a family of artists and musicians, French composer Jonathan Mayer studied violin as a child, then in high school moved on to electric guitar. But it was when he first heard the music of John Williams that Mayer discovered his passion for film music. Movies like Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park inspired Mayer first, and only a few years ago, he discovered that he “could play an orchestra” by himself with soundbanks.

In our back and forth, Jonathan Mayer told me that originally, he composed for fan films—which made me think of authors who’ve honed their writing skills on fan fiction. Then he wrote music for companies who needed it for educational trailers. Now, he’s branching out into commercials and Android video games, and recently an agency in New York contacted him about using his music for TV.

Love this screen shot of To Defeat Them All

Screen Shot To Defeat Them All

We’re quite lucky to have caught Jonathan Mayer at this stage. He ended our last email conversation by saying,

“Here i am now, very busy, but that’s what i looked for.”

Then he apologized for his English, but I found it charming.

Mayer was generous enough to contribute several pieces to the Sirenstories SoundCloud and he sent me a couple of tracks privately, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time listening to his music. Epic, mysterious, bold, moving—it’s all deep and dramatic. In other words, excellent writing music.

SInce it was so hard to decide what to post, I’m adding one more of Mayer’s pieces for your listening pleasure—the name alone made me love it: Biocode.

Those who speak geek might like to know that on Biocode, Mayer uses Spectrasonics omnisphere, Projectsam orchestral brass, EWQL stormdrum 2, symphobia 2 and cinematic strings.

I’m a musician and all but—yikes.

 

Jonathan Mayer

Musicians and composers, please connect with Jonathan Mayer on his facebook page.

Thank you.

 

Arise

AGARTHA

Sorry the Sirens have been so silent, I’ve been busy writing and haven’t had a chance to post.

But I have been listening to lots of new music.

Wow.

Some new artists have joined the Sirenstories SoundCloud and they are amazing.

If you’ve checked out some of the previous posts, you might know I love to listen to music while I write. Arise, a gorgeous piece from Lyubomir Yordanov, a Bulgarian born composer and producer who writes for film and TV, is excellent writing music. It’s excellent music in any case, but the latest scene I wrote for the lovestory/ghoststory I’m working on nearly popped right off the page because of Arise.

Arise is intensely emotional, epic even. Evocative of something ancient, there’s also something sleekly modern about it, as if it might be the distant cousin of the chill track your favorite Seattle coffee shop used to play. Arise is short, just a little over a minute and a half, (I’ll have to drag it into Garageband and loop it if I want to keep using it for the soundtrack of my novel!), and that’s because it was created as trailer music. I’d go see any movie or read any book that used Arise in its trailer.

Arise is from Lyubomir Yordanov’s 2013 film inspired album Agartha, which Yordanov recorded, mixed & mastered himself. The record  was 
orchestrated by Hristo Manolov, and Denica Serafimova
 contributes the dramatic vocals, which are lovely and powerful. It took me several close listens to realize that when Denica Serafimova’s voice first comes in, it reminds me of Björk. Beauty edged in darkness.

If you’d like a copy of Agartha, you can get it on iTunes.

Or, you can connect with Lyubomir Yordanov on fb.

It looks like you can find also find Lyubomir Yordanov at www.ama-sound.com and possibly commission him to create a piece for your own book or movie — but I bet he’s busy . . .

The Commuters

COMMUTERS

As I Make My Way starts with a scratchy guitar riff that morphs into a burst of late Beatlesque sound then moves into a groove that for some reason, although it’s slower, makes me thing of Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend. Maybe it’s not the rhythm, maybe it’s the lo-fi production, (which I love), or that rough around the edges guitar part, but I swear, there’s a little bit of Sweet’s megahit in there.

And then, As I Make My Way is nothing but The Commuters, with their very own pop/rock, anthemic sound. And even though it’s a band sound, the mix never gets crowded, never becomes a wall of music, and stays refreshingly lo-fi—that hint of Sweet’s Girlfriend, all grown up, and possibly holding a U2 CD in her hands—with vocals that are sometimes tough, sometimes tender, always honest. Grounded.

I’m seeing light from the other side of morning
Reflected light from the other side of day
I’m seeing light from the other side of morning
I’m seeing light, my mind is blown away

…My mind is blown away — away
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I watch the world from the other side of owning
The things I’ve held, I’ve let them go away
I watch the world from the other side of owning
I watch the world, desires have slipped away

…Desires have slipped away — away
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I’m on a journey, I’ve got my faith
I don’t have to worry about my fate
The planets align as the will dictates
I’m writing it out as I make my way

I walk through time with a different understanding
Embracing what I see along the way
I walk though time with a different understanding
I’ll figure it out, as I make my way

…as I make my way — my way
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I’m on a journey, I’ve got my faith
I don’t have to worry about my fate
The planets align as the will dictates
I’m writing it out as I make my way…

Siren Zeeshan Zaidi, frontman and founder of The Commuters, was generous enough to share the story behind As I Make My Way.

“This song is about the vision I had all my life of becoming a professional musician and just going for it. I’d been in and around the music industry much of my life, but had put my own musical dreams on the back burner. One day I was deep in thought and said to myself: Some day I will die. And when that day comes I don’t want to look back on my life and kick myself for not doing what deep down inside I’ve always wanted to do. So the song is about that moment, and going for it, and not worrying too much about outcomes — about giving it your all and just trusting that things will work out as they are supposed to.

Ironically, even though this was the obvious first single, in the studio, this was one of the last songs to come together. It was lagging a bit behind the other songs and I wasn’t sure if it would even make the album. Then one day I said to Uri — let’s take a cue from the song itself and lay down some cool parts, starting with a great intro, without caring too much about how it turns out. Just let it go. So then I came up with the two guitar parts you hear in the intro and put them down, and Uri was messing around with a keyboard and came up with the really killer synth riff, as well as the scratchy sound at the beginning.
Felt a lot like magic.”

And sounds a lot like magic. So glad The Commuters got it down.

The Commuters are: Zeeshan Zaidi (Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Songwriter, Co-Producer), Uri Djemal (Guitar, Keyboards, Co-Producer), Ben Zwerin (Bass), and Paul Amorese (Drums). Their full 11 song album Rescue was mastered by White Stripes/Ryan Adams collaborator Fred Kevorkian and includes Take a Step Back, a gorgeous ballad that I’m particularly in love with. Rescue is available on bandcamp so you can easily choose the tracks you want, or get the entire album, which is what I recommend.

The music video for As I Make My Way is of the Day In A Life variety, but what makes it so interesting, besides the fact that it uses the band’s hometown of NYC as a backdrop, is that it shows Zeeshan Zaidi as the start of the day not as a musician, but as The Man In The Gray Flannel suit tech entrepreneur that he is in his ‘other’ life.

Bright Beams

You Are Projecting from Bright Beams was just the kind of piece I needed to hear today. The beginning of the song is a slowly revealed spacious soundscape that cleared my head and took me away from my desk. Listening to You Are Projecting made me take a minute to just sit and breathe, and that reminded me that there are other things in my life that need my attention besides stories and queries, unfinished manuscripts, workshops, and websites.

Bright Beams marked their track as Lo Fi on the Sirenstories SoundCloud even though the production does become fairly thick with layers by the middle. Which is fine, but it’s the beginning of the piece that I love, with only a voice whispering, “Shh . .  .  ” the start of You Are Projecting is truly Lo Fi, and quite wonderful.

Laptop, Bedroom, Dreampop.

These are the words Bright Beams used to tag their song, and other than those three evocative words, they left no info for me on the Sirenstories SoundCloud. I can’t tell you who they are or where they’re from. I can’t tell you where they’re playing or even if they are ‘they’!

Kind of mysterious . . . but that’s how many Sirens are. Elusive and mysterious.

This is Bright Beams’ avatar. Sea or sky? From what I’ve read, Sirens inhabit both worlds. I think Bright Beams may as well.

Of course I Googled around, but sadly, I didn’t discover the identity or musical history of Bright Beams. I did however find this wonderful poem on my serendipity search. It was waiting for me on the lovely website of the Poetry Foundation.

Avising the Bright Beams

BY SIR THOMAS WYATT

Avising the bright beams of these fair eyes
Where he is that mine oft moisteth and washeth,
The wearied mind straight from the heart departeth
For to rest in his worldly paradise
And find the sweet bitter under this guise.
What webs he hath wrought well he perceiveth
Whereby with himself on love he plaineth
That spurreth with fire and bridleth with ice.
Thus is it in such extremity brought,
In frozen thought, now and now it standeth in flame.
Twixt misery and wealth, twixt earnest and game,
But few glad, and many diverse thought
With sore repentance of his hardiness.
Of such a root cometh fruit fruitless.
Thank you to the Poetry Foundation and to Bright Beams.

The Best Teachers are Sirens

Meet Mrs. McGee . . .

A total Siren, right?

Mrs. McGee is the teacher featured in What Do You Want to Be? a new picture book written by Beth Carter and illustrated by Leo Silva.

I ‘met’ Beth on author David Harrison‘s wonderful blog about two years ago. At that time, I was going to his blog almost every day for inspiration. David has written over eighty children’s books and runs a Word of the Month poetry contest on his site that’s great fun. If you need inspiration, I suggest you try it, the word prompt will get your pen moving. For me, the experience was more about community than contest, and I felt like my poems had a home on David’s site even though they were all really works in progress.

When she found out that What Do You Want to Be? was going to be published, Beth, who lives in Missouri, asked me if I would write a song to go along with her book. I said yes, and last weekend I went up to Woodstock with #MySonIs5 to record the track that What Do You Want to Be? inspired. Hope you enjoy it!

Here are a few pics of #MySonIs5 recording his part at Kevin Salem‘s studio in Woodstock.

After a while, what starts out as fun in the studio becomes work, and even #MySonIs5 begins to feel the pressure . . .

Finally he finishes, and takes a bow. #MySonIs5 has stamina in the studio and—what? What did you just ask me? Did I actually make him listen to old Grateful Dead on the drive home from Woodstock? Um.

Click on the pic of Mrs. McGee to get a copy of Beth Carter‘s book for your kids. If they like the song, tell Beth and she’ll probably send you a copy, or come back and listen any time here on Sirenstories.

To learn more about Beth Carter, visit her blog, Banter with Beth

What Do You Want To Be?  Song lyrics

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

When I arrived at school today

My teacher smiled and said let’s play

Join me in a circle on the floor

She asked us all what we held dear

The people we loved to be near

And what we thought the future held in store

She gave us crayons & pens & pads

She said, no answer’s wrong or bad

Just think my friends then think a little more

Use pictures, words; free thoughts like birds

Express yourself and you’ll be heard

You’ll learn in part what you are all here for

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me (I don’t know!)

A baker or a builder,                          

Or a swimmer in the sea

A mommy having babies (Maybe!)

Or a maybe a daddy

A dentist, doctor, artist, author                              

Teacher, Forest ranger, or you might like to sing . . . (I’d like that!)

You can do anything!  (Definitely.)

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

An astronaut, a lawyer

Or a farmer growing trees (Next stop outer space!)

The president, a fireman

A keeper keeping bees

A dancer, banker, preacher, painter

Help save things are endangered (Yeah, like pandas!) maybe you’ll sew . . .

You can give it a go!  (I think I might want to think about this . . .)

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee (A baseball player!)

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?  (A candy maker!)

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

(A cow!)

(I just want to be me.)


Back to Book Trailers, The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister

My favorite things: music, books, movies. The order varies, but the list explains why I love book trailers.

The trailer for Charlotte Agell‘s middle grade novel The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister is one the best I’ve seen.

One of the things that’s so wonderful about this trailer is how true to the book it is. The trailer captures the essence of The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister. In this case, I read the book first then saw the trailer. My review of the book is below.

India is one of my favorite characters in Middle Grade fiction today. She’s even got her own blog, which is adorable and much more organized than mine. Of course India’s creativity might have something to do with her multitalented creator Charlotte Agell who probably gives India a hand once in a while. Click on India’s pic to visit to her blog.

The Siren behind the music for India’s book trailer is Charlotte’s son, Jon Simmons. The music is perfect; it expresses both India’s sweetness and her quirkiness.

Jon is also part of a pop/rock band based in Boston called The Crosswalk Kings. Look for a post about his music soon on Sirenstories

 

I finished reading The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister on the beach. The pages have a little sand in between them now, and I think that would make India happy.

India loves the outdoors, and author Charlotte Agell has included some beautiful descriptions of inland Maine in this entertaining and moving story about a sweet-natured nine and a half-year old girl who takes her fairly complicated life pretty much in stride. In a world full of little drama queens, I found India’s attitude refreshing.

Besides being an excellent and economical writer, Charlotte Agell is a gifted painter. An adorable watercolor portrait of India and the family pet bird, Beatrice Strawberry graces the cover of the book. I’d like to see Ms. Agell put out a version of India with full-blown watercolors of all the characters and their homes. I want to see paintings of things like “the lilac bush hidden in the fog” that India sees when she can’t sleep early one morning and steps outside to sit on her front porch swing.

Wolfgang, Maine, where the book takes place, is a front porch kind of town and by the time I’d finished the book I wanted to go there. Although there are no watercolors other than the front and back cover and jacket flaps–they feature more great pictures of India with the bird and her dog Tofu, the jacket designers obviously knew a good thing when they saw it–the book is full of sketches: clever drawings of India and things she likes, plus–just as important–things she doesn’t like. The sketches are accompanied by comments that made me laugh out loud.

India has a unique voice. Her backstory is rich. The settings are beautifully rendered. The book is colorful in every sense of the word, as is India’s slightly wacky artist mother.

India was adopted, and we learn she has questions and issues around that, but the book isn’t a big drama. Instead, The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister is a story, told by showing us small wondrous details in what seems like a very real little girl’s life.

I found myself wondering what will happen in India’s future, especially as far as she and her best friend, a boy named Colby, are concerned. Snowstorms in June, whale songs, yearning, and insightful comments fill this book that begs to be part of a series. A sequel won’t enough for those of us who have fallen in love with India McAllister.

I checked out this book as a possible gift for my niece who is India’s age. Unlike India, she’s not an avid reader. I’m pretty sure this perfect book of adventures will change that. I couldn’t put it down myself. It’s sweet and funny, and the way India’s small but complicated family comes together in the end left me with a lump in my throat and a smile on my face.

Confession: I’m a huge fan of Charlotte Agell‘s work. Her picture books are among my favorites, and my son, who is five, feels the same. The paintings that illustrate her books are so beautiful, I’ve been tempted to tear out certain pages and frame them.

My son and I love Charlotte’s book To The Island so much, that I used the text, with only a few alterations, as the lyrics for a song. Below is the super rough version I recorded on my laptop, at home, with my son.

I hope to go into the studio one day and do a better recording, but for now, I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed singing it. The words are so simple, but to me, they’re a metaphor for some of life’s more profound passages.

More Music for Film and, Film.

Book trailers are a relatively new art form and the best ones take advantage of both video and audio.

In this trailer for Edie Meidav‘s new novel, Lola California, not only does the video tell a story, but the music does as well. I find both beautiful and haunting.

I also found Edie Meidav‘s articulate description of her book eerie and intriguing. After seeing this trailer, I have to read this book. Do you feel the same way? Is there a book you’ve been compelled to read because of the trailer?

Kevin Salem composed the music for the book trailer, and he wrote additional songs for Lola California as well. Kevin says, “What you find here is the result of three years of procrastination and a couple weeks of cramming which, really, is how music is supposed to be. The music is part soundtrack for the reader, part songs inspired by the text (though I would be loathe to be too ‘on the nose’ about it as Edie’s words speak so eloquently for themselves) and part music inspired by the cultural identity of the novel. That is, we hope that they work together not literally, but like distant cousins who bear a resemblance you can’t quite put your finger on.”

If you click on Kevin Salem‘s picture you’ll be able to hear more gorgeous music for Lola California and read about Kevin’s relationship with Edie Meidav and her novel.

The Littlest Siren

Here’s #MySonIs5 recording his part for The Crankamacallit Song yesterday at Kevin Salem’s studio in Woodstock, NY.


We’re going to be using the song for the demo video we’re making later today with Polymash for The Crankamacallit iPad app which is available now on iTunes. Kevin helped me write the song and sings on it as well.

After years of admiring Kevin’s songs and being in love with his voice and his guitar playing, my dream of writing and singing something with him has finally come true . . . sort of. Kevin has produced a bunch of my songs over the years and I find it pretty hilarious that we’ve finally written something together called The Crankamacallit.

This blog isn’t really about my music, but I couldn’t resist sharing :)

I’ll make sure to post some of Kevin’s music soon as well. Until then, if you’d like to check out the app, click on the title page below.

 

The Crankamacallit Is Here!

To read about Sirenstories or share your songs, please see my previous posts or click on the waterwings in the right hand column to submit, thanks!

If you’re not looking for Sirenstories, you must be stopping by to help me celebrate the fact that THE CRANKAMACALLIT IS UP AND FLYING!

That’s right, The Crankamacallit ipad app is now available in the itunes store! Yay! Champagne, confetti, and cake!

If you want to read more about The Crankamacallit, please click on the title page below and visit Polymash, where there’s an incredible gallery and storyline teaser for The Crankamacallit. Go now, they’re passing glasses of bubbly!

Thank you Polymash, you’re brilliant!

Crankamacallit Update!

If you’re here for Sirenstories you’re in the right place, scroll down and read the last post or two (or three) or simply click on the waterwings in the right hand column and submit your songs. If you just want to listen, come back June 1st, the first song will be up.

But for those of you who are looking for a new ipad app for your child, The Crankamacallit is just about ready.

In a few more weeks The Crankamacallit will be in the Apple store! Until then, here are some still shots and descriptions from Polymash.

An interactive children’s story about building an imaginary vehicle, The Crankamacallit is filled with stunning interactive animation and surprising sounds.

Using playful, rhythmic language and rhyme, The Crankamacallit draws the user into the fantastic 3D world of an inventor’s workshop.

Part poem, part story, this rhythmic 3D fantasy was written by Mimi Cross, animated by Juergen Berkessel and narrated by acclaimed singer songwriter Robert Burke Warren, aka “Uncle Rock”. Listeners will laugh out loud at the nuances of Warren’s performance.