Galactic’s Stanton Moore Electrifies The Soundtrack for “Infamous 2”

Galactic’s Stanton Moore Electrifies The Soundtrack for “Infamous 2” (photo)

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Sony’s got a good thing going on with the musical accompaniment in their “Infamous” action franchise. The two games focus on Cole McGrath, a hapless everyman who gets electrical superpowers and battles evil in giant, open-world cities. Set in NYC analogue Empire City, 2008’s “Infamous” rocked out to twitchy, bleeps-and-bass tracks by electro-DJ Amon Tobin. That game’s sequel–which just came out last week–moves to the southern locale of New Marais after a massive supervillain destroys Empire City. To create a voodoo-inflected vibe for “Infamous 2,” Sony and dev studio Sucker Punch enlisted Stanton Moore of genre-blending group Galactic.

06142011_stanton_hi_res2.jpgThe five-man collective’s music incorporates funk, R&B, blues, hip-hop and jazz to create a unique sound all its own. Sucker Punch wanted to create a polyglot musical backdrop for their virtual version of New Orleans and the work of Galactic drummer Stanton Moore provides the core for that. In the interview that follows, Moore talks about creating music for “Infamous 2” and percussion instruments he used to give New Marais its bounce.

Can you talk about why your involvement in the game happened? How did you try to evoke the feeling and texture of New Orleans in the music you did for the game?

We were contacted, I believe, because the new city, New Marais, was to be based off of New Orleans. I think Jonathan and the crew felt we could add a New Orleans vibe while being experimental at the same time. With us being from there, we were able to tap into the vibe of the city and have it underlie everything that we were doing. Hearing that the city was going to be based off of a fictitious destroyed version of where we live, we knew how to convey the vibe without making it sound like traditional New Orleans music. Having played video games, we knew we could twist and alter and obscure the New Orleans vibe so that it fit in with the world of “Infamous 2.”

The karma system’s always been a big deal in the Infamous games, with the experience changing with how good or evil you are. This time, that system’s embodied in the two partner characters Kuo and Nix. What was the approach to giving these women their own musical themes?

For Nix and Kuo, we paid attention to the qualities of the characters and what the developers wanted. We experimented and came up with a couple of different options of things that we felt sounded right. We were also given drawings, scenes and descriptions as well as the previous game. These games show an attention to detail and we definitely used all of that as a guide and as inspiration.

A lot of video game music tries to sound just like movie music, with sweeping strings for drama and thumping bass & drums for action. How did you try to avoid or rework these clichés?

We were encouraged to be really experimental, so we improvised a ton and the music and development teams used what they thought fit what they were looking for. We haven’t done too much soundtrack work yet, so we weren’t really tied into any clichés per se.

Galactic’s music mixes funk, jazz, electronica and hip-hop, with a heavy dose of improvisation, too. Did you do multiple takes for the soundtrack work?

I’d do about two or three passes on the “brutal” kit which was made up of three toms, three floor toms and a 26-in bass drum with maybe one cymbal. On this kit, I played a lot of powerful, aggressive tribal (for lack of a better term) ideas. I’d then play two or three passes on the “bizarro” kit. I used the opportunity to set up lots of different instruments that I have been collecting over the years, too. I had some Nyhabinghi drums from Jamaica and I set up one of the bigger ones on a cradle as a bass drum. I set up several Remo Mondo snares, which have simulated calf heads. I set up a 10, 12 and 14 as a snare and toms. I also used a lot of LP micro snares and drum set timbales and used a lot of Pete Englehart percussion and bells as well. We came to affectionately call this the “Bizarro Kit”. I played a lot of grooves that I have come to develop over the years but they all sounded different on this kit.

Did the ideas change radically from take to take?

I’d say yes. The takes varied a good bit from take to take and this led to lots of other ideas as well. It was a very creative process that then led to lots of grooves that I was able to use for the current Galactic record. We were recording at the same time as some of the “Infamous 2” sessions. It’s been a very liberating experience and has opened up a lot of creativity in some of the things that I do in the studio now.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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