DID YOU READ

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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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