Berklee

BEN TALMI IS READY TO PLAY
October 31, 2016 12:00 am

Ben Talmi has worked behind the scenes for ages, manning the boards at Virtue and Vice Studios, as well as scoring films and being a DJ for an EDM-driven circus (more on that later). Now Ben has stepped into the spotlight, releasing a music video for his song, “Play”, and gearing up for the release of his album.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS was lucky to catch a few minutes with this musical renaissance man, and get his take on creating music for a diverse world.

You recently released a video for your song “Play”. What’s next?
I’ve got some more music videos up my sleeve, and an album done that I can’t wait to get out there. I’m hoping to tour as hard as possible on it.

 Virtue and Vice Studios has seen some pretty impressive bands pass through its doors. Do you have a favorite band or artist you worked with there?
Any time that I’ve had the extreme luck of working with or having any of the musicians from yMusic in my studio has been amazing. They operate on a very inspiring level of musicianship while maintaining impeccable taste with their playing. Often times when musicians achieve such a high level of technical ability, they want to use all their knowledge and skill all the time but the musicians in yMusic really balance that world beautifully. I’ve also been writing a bunch of songs with Dave Monks from Tokyo Police Club recently, he’s amazing, just totally free and fun to write songs with.

You wrote the score for the film Duke and the Buffalo, which was included in the Tribeca Film Festival. How does one go about writing a soundtrack for a film about bison? Where do you start?
These days, directors and filmmakers will send you what’s called a “temp score”, that’s sort of a guideline or reference music for cues that they want you to imitate or mimic. Composers generally detest this because it doesn’t leave room for much creativity or the ability to put your identity into the music you are making. With Duke and the Buffalo I was pretty inspired by the peaceful nature of the animals in these epic landscapes virtually untouched by man. If you listen to the score you will hear hints of Brian Eno, Nils Frahm and Jon Brion throughout.

You also wrote an EDM score for Circus Electronica. Acrobats seem pretty different from bison. Is it a challenge for you to switch gears between projects?
Conor Oberst once said something great about how a song is just a naked body and the way you produce it is like sending it into a walk in closet and putting on this shirt or that pair of pants. At the end of the day its all harmony, melody, rhythm and lyrics, just open up the faucet, the water will pour out.

How different is the “real world” of music from what you learned while attending Berklee?
No one cares about how many scales you know, how fast you can play augmented arpeggios or what your proficiency ratings are. The only thing that matters is if you make art that says something and connects with people. It’s not about you, squash your ego, be a vessel for something greater that can inspire and change people for the better.

You’ve also done music for clients like Microsoft. Do you have much experience specifically in the advertising industry? Do you find your advertising clients asking you to do things like making a soundalike of a popular song for an ad?
Whenever I’ve done commercial writing, music supervisors will always ask to mimic other songs or do a soundalike but Microsoft actually licensed one of my own songs for a commercial. Its a really personal song that was inspired by something I went though. I had no intention what so ever of molding the music to fit a commercial sound or putting any kind of obviously “licensable” characteristics in it. Funny how that works.

You have experience in orchestral composition, yet much of your work is electronic. Do you see there being major differences between the way the two genres are composed, or are they more similar than people may think?
It’s all the same if you look at music as the four fundamental elements of harmony, melody, rhythm and lyrics.

What’s your favorite place in New York to get pizza?
This might be obvious to people who live in Brooklyn but Roberta’s will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

MEET IAN
December 22, 2015 9:00 am

Ian isn’t that nice boy from the library your mom wants you to meet. Ian is actually a dream pop trio that originated in Boston, during singer/writer Jilian Medford’s tenure at Berklee. Now based in Los Angeles, bandmates Medford, Tim Cheney, and Damien Scalise have released their eponymous EP and are working to bring their diaphanous sound to the masses.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS caught up with Jilian to chat about her time at the famous music school and the band’s first time at CMJ.

ian_band_2

You released your first EP during your senior year at Berklee. How did your experience there shape you as a musician? Was there a lot of competition between you and your classmates?

JM: Berklee is a very interesting school. Most of the kids I know and was close to while attending ended up dropping out after their 2nd or 3rd year. I had thoughts of doing the same but my mom wouldn’t let me and also I wanted to finish and walk in graduation with funny socks peeping through the bottom of my gown!

There is a lot of competition at that school, and it drove me to start exploring different ways of expression, because I just didn’t feel like I was pushing myself enough or I didn’t feel like I was fully executing my projects to my full potential. So I decided to seek out Mark Fede for our EP (he has worked bands like Guerrilla Toss and Fat History Month) and it was a huge step in the right and certain direction for this band.

The recording process was short and sweet and hot and sweaty in August of 2014. We mainly recorded this tape to have something to give people on our summer tour but it ended up taking many twists and turns in a positive direction that we are so grateful for! People actually listened, I didn’t really know what I expected but I just didn’t know if anyone would listen.

Your first CMJ festival was this year. Did anything stand out to you about your performance?

JM: Cake Shop was special! The spot itself reminds me a lot of this spot in Boston called Great Scott so it was a familiar vibe. It was the end of CMJ so the show was quaint and filled with familiar faces, plus a few new ones, and my best friend Ellen Kemper from Palehound came and it was the best surprise since she had been so busy all week.

Something that really stood out was a 60-year-old woman asking me if she could buy our shirt that says “don’t call me” on it, since she had just left her husband of 30 years and wanted to wear it next time they saw each other! Kick ‘em 2 the curb!

How did you prepare for the show?

JM: [The band] hung out in a practice space together and got our new songs all worked out so we could be comfortable dancing while playing them.

Did you discover anyone new?

JM: OooOoo!! Loved seeing PWR BTTM! That was my first time seeing them play and it was incredible. So intimate even though so many people were there, and they managed to engage every single person watching. It was admirable.

Always love seeing one of my favorite bands Kal Marks at the Exploding in Sound showcase as well as Palm! Got to catch Protomartyr at the Sub Pop showcase, had to pee the entire time during their set but it was worth the wait, their new record is fire fire FIRE!! And they are even better live; Joe Casey’s stage presence makes me think of Bill Murray.

Were you able to try the pizza while in New York? How did it compare to the pizza in LA or Boston (where you’re based now)?

JM: We did eat pizza, I remember it clearly because we ordered a chicken bacon ranch pizza and couldn’t stop chanting CHICKEN BACON RANCH down the street all night long. This is my breakdown of foods between BOSTON NY AND LA: Boston has the best donuts (dunkin donuts, strawberry frosted, keep it simple baby), NY has the best pizza and hot dogs, LA has the best Mexican food ~ taco trucks till infinity.

What can fans can expect to see from you in the future?     

JM: The future, especially this coming year is really exciting for us. We will be relocating to LA in the next couple months to see if that is the spot for us, or to at least escape for the winter, and finishing a record to come out later next year, which will hopefully be accompanied by a lot of touring and traveling and seeing new places, faces, plants and dogs!