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Conversations With Brian Culbertson and Loreena McKennitt, Plus Michael Penn and The Whistles & The Bells Exclusives

Apr 04, 2014 | Updated Jun 04, 2014

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A Conversation With Brian Culbertson

Mike Ragogna: You've been pretty musically active lately, Mr. Culbertson! Do you want to give us a little summary of what you've been up to?

Brian Culbertson: Well, I'm releasing a new record independently. It's been a great experience, it's my first time doing this, so there are a lot of learning curves here, but now we've spent our third week at number one on Billboard, so I'm ecstatic.

MR: You're calling it Another Long Night Out. Just how long was this particular night out?

BC: Well, this record was a lot less of the late nights from the first one. I named Long Night Out record because I ended up having to pull lots of all-nighters to finish it. When you're twenty, you don't know that you can move deadlines, so I was like, "Oh my god we have to finish! I'm not sleeping!" Nowadays it's like, "Oh, okay. It'll get done when it gets done." I don't want to kill myself anymore.

MR: This time out--I don't even know where to begin--you've got everyone who's ever breathed oxygen and played jazz on this album.

BC: [laughs] Yeah, that was really the whole concept--to get guys that were literally inspiring me, that I was listening to when I was making the first one. For instance, one of the first sessions for this new version that really blew me away was with Will Kennedy and Jimmy Haslip from the Yellowjackets. I was programming the drums on the original album on a drum machine and I was thinking, "How would Will Kennedy play this part?" So now I'm hearing WIll play it in the studio and it's just a total goosebump moment. It's fully surreal, like, "Holy crap, that's what I wanted it to sound like. This is cool."

MR: Were there any surprises to you, in terms of the sonic changes these songs went through?

BC: The bottom line is that I just wanted it to sound great. I always like the arrangements in general on the first record, I feel they still hold up, but production-wise and sonically I was like, "Man, it is so dated." It almost sounds like a demo tape now, just because of the technology that I was limited to. I just didn't have access to all these great players and studios and equipment. So fast forward twenty years and I have some decent gear and I got to know a lot of people. You put those two together and it had better sound better. I couldn't be more pleased with the whole outcome. I'm loving the sound of it.

MR: And you really do let your players experience their musical moments. You allow them to take front and center. I wouldn't put this in a duet category as much as a "truly featuring" style. Is that the intention?

BC: In a way, yes. You have to remember when I first started out I was not a piano player. I was a trombone player. That's what I was known as. I was writing music as a piano player and I know I needed to become a piano player, but at that moment I neeeded to feature other, better players than. Fast forward to this version, I just kept the arrangements the same but I let these other great players be featured. I have no ego. These are these songs, these are the arrangments, let me do that. I don't need to take over all the solos because now I'm more practiced, but in the same light I think that the piano player that I do on this record is a lot improved from a musical standpoint. Actually, my wife had a lot to do with that, she actually co-produced my piano tracks with me on this record, and the reason for that, I know it may sound weird, but she really has been listening to that record since the very beginning. We met right after it came out, she's always like that record, and she's a huge fan of jazz piano fusion. She listens to it all the time and always influences me and plays new records coming out of Europe and different places around the world. That was really cool. She'd be in the control room saying, "Hey, listen to this!" or, "Why don't you do this differently?" She was kind of pushing me to push my boundaries as a piano player as well.

MR: How does the relationship work in that way?

BC: She grew up as a violinist and also as an opera singer for many, many years, we've done a lot of projects together. She's extremely musical, she has a great ear and a lot of great ideas. It's a lot of fun working with her in the studio because she knows what she's talking about.

MR: In addition to your relationship with her as a couple, is it also built on your musical relationship with her?

BC: It's fully intertwined. We met at music school at DePaul University, we were both music majors there. We've both gone into careers in music, so our life is music. What can I say?

MR: What are your thoughts on this as a song cycle?

BC: I think the songs and the sequencing of the album fully hold up. That's what I was always impressed by over the years. I was like, "Wow, these songs are really interesting, they're kind of different and unique and not your typical "smooth jazz," quote unquote. These are just pieces of music. They cross all kinds of boundaries. You put "Beautiful Liar" on, that was originally written as a pop song with full lyrics. I just took the vocal off and played in on piano. Then other songs like "Fullerton Ave." have a more fusion vibe going, which I haven't really done a lot of over the years, so it was fun to play like that and open up some other people's minds to what I can do.

MR: In addition to your arrangements and contributions your wife made, were there any moments where other musicians came in and said, "Brian, let's try it this way," and took it the other direction?

BC: Oh, completely. Ray Parker, Jr. came in and I wanted him to play guitar on "Horizon," that track with [Michael] Patches [Stewart]. I had Patches record on it before I had the guitar and it was nice, it was fine, but nothing was blowing me away. I also tried different grooves, different drummers, all kinds of things. It finally came together when Ray came over and said, "Brian, I've got to tell you, this song is too nice. This needs some nasty guitar on it. So turn up some delay, some distortion, some phaser, all kinds of stuff," and he was puprosely playing wrong notes to give some edge to this "nice" song. "Let's put some stankiness on it," and all of a sudden he started playing this psychedelic guitar stuff, something that I had never imagined and all of a sudden it took a whole turn for the better. I was like, "Wow, this is something now."

MR: Was that early enough in the project that it gave you a different perspective on the rest of the album?

BC: Actually, no, that was near the very end. I had done the whole rest of the record mostly, but for some reason that particular song "Horizon" was not coming together. The same thing happened on the original version twenty years ago. I don't know what it was, I just didn't have the final sound of it in my head. Most of the time I do. I know exactly what I want in advance. That particular song proved to be challenging on both versions, but there was a turning point, which was Ray coming in. All of a sudden I was like, "Wow, okay, I like it now."

MR: Were you tempted to grab a couple songs you had written during the period between and add them for an even bigger perspective?

BC: You know, I thought about it and people suggested it, but I ultimately decided, "You know what? Let me just leave it exactly the same and let it be what it is." I had found other songs that I had written during that time, but I didn't think they were good enough. Honestly.

MR: Now that this album has spent three weeks at number one it's arguable that this album is now a classic. So you know sometime down the line there may perhaps be Yet Another Long Night Out.

BC: Yet Another Long Night Out! [laughs] Hey, you know, who the hell knows? Why not, in another twenty years? You just planted a seed. Now you've got me thinking. With a Blu-ray. Well, in twenty years it won't be a Blu-Ray anymore, it they'll be on to something else.

MR: You'll be a hologram, literally be visiting every house in the world.

BC: Exactly.

MR: Let's get a couple of your other pieces of news here, too, your Napa Valley Jazz Getaway, are you psyched on that?

BC: Oh yeah, every day we're working on that, I've got a great team surrounding me and working on that, I'm really, really hands-on with every detail that goes on with the festival and I'm very excited about the vibe out there. Everybody's talking about it, it's got great buzz, people are just excited to get out of town and go to wine country at the top of the summer to when the weather's always wonderful, knock on wood. It's just a great time of the year to be in wine country and to have all these wonderful artists joining us this year. It's definitely going to be our biggest and best line-up yet.

MR: And what does it feel like to have this successful of an album? Were you surprised by how "Sticky" the album was to the charts?

BC: Yes. I've got to be honest with you. I think everyone was kind of looking at me wondering, "Hey, can someone go independent and still have something of a success?" It's just a testament to the great fans out there that I have. I've got the best fans in the world, they're really, really loyal, willing to go with me on whatever musical journey I'm taking at a particular time. I couldn't be happier. I obviously love connecting with all of those fans as well via social media and all that. That's been a huge help as well. Five years ago I could not have done an independent project because we just didn't have that direct to fan contact that now we do. It's a new world, the music business.

MR: Right. It's not only surprising, but it seems like it must be a relief to be able to do this on your own and see that there is a paradigm for this to work?

BC: Oh yeah, completely. One of the coolest things that I'm able to do now is release different versions of the album. I'm putting vinyl out, I've never even been allowed to do that, which is silly. I've never had vinyl out, so I'm putting that on my website, which is coming out next month, by the way. For all the musicians out there I've released "Music Minus One" mixes, meaning a no-drums version, a no-bass version, a no-piano version, so any musician out there can download those and play along. I've made all the charts downloadable free from my website. I'm really looking out for all the musicians out there because me, as a musician, I've wanted this stuff for my own! But no one ever does it because they're so controlled by the label who are like, "Nah, we don't wanna do that." So you know what? Screw it. I'm doing it. Why not?

MR: Why not! You are taking on a supporting role with the older artists and a mentor role with the younger artists. This is a path that I'm not sure you saw coming, right?

BC: Definitely not. It just sort of evolves and becomes what it is. I really love teaching and talking to young musicians who are especially eager and willing to learn. It feels great and it's fun to try to pass on whatever knowledge I have. I had a lot of great mentors when I was younger, a great piano teacher, a jazz guy who really inspired me to want to make records, Alan Swain, he was a wonderful teacher in Chicago. I had a great composition teacher and arranging teacher. That's really important for young people, to have people to look up to and be inspired by. If I can do some of that, I'm going to do as much as I can.

MR: Nice, very nice. For what's probably the tenth time, what is your advice for new artists?

BC: Ah, yes. It's obviously a changing landscape daily in the music business. There's a lot of young saxophone players out there that are trying to get somewhere and I try to tell people, "Hey, you've got to have good-sounding material so you have to work as hard as you can to try to make your recordings hold up to anyone that you're listening to." With today's technology it's definitely doable, you've just got to really work at it and put the hard work in. Too many people just kind of slap together demos and it's like, "Eugh. Not exciting." You're not going to turn any heads there. Then, you've got to get your local band thing going and create some kind of name for yourself wherever you live. Become that big fish there and then you can slowly start spreading out. Then also try to get in someone else's band that may be well-known already. I've brought on a lot of sax players in my band that have gone on to do their own projects and gone off to tour on their own. That's another good way to get out there. Don't be fully one hundred percent focused on your own gigs, play with some other people that have bigger audiences. Guess what? They'll become your fans.

MR: Very nicely said. I've heard that DePaul University is getting a certain visitor.

BC: Ah, yes, April fifth I'm going to go back to the same exact room where I did my very first concert ever and I'm going to do a release part of this new album. We're going to have a lot of DePaul alum there as well as current music students as well as local Chicago fans. I'm really excited about that, I'm truly bringing it full circle. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm bringing my wine in, we're going to have a great time, I'll play some of the songs from the record and talk about my experiences at DePaul and get some local media there as well. I'm keeping the awareness up for music education. That's really important to me.

MR: I was going to ask you how much the Culbertson Pinot Noir is going to be flowing.

BC: Well at that even a lot! It's going to be great. I'm excited about that. It's on my website by the way. Lots of cool things are on my website, like those "Music Minus One" tracks and the vinyl and the charts and the wine. I'm just going direct to the consumer these days.

MR: You've got your own 360 Deal going.

BC: Bingo.

MR: I love that. It's like, screw the majors, you have your own 360.

BC: The 360s work well if they are going to pump the living s**t out of you everywhere, spending millions of millions of dollars. Then okay, fine, I could understand that. They're going to make you the next thing. But in the jazz world, that just doesn't exist so that whole old model just doesn't make sense anymore. It's the right time to be doing what we're doing here. I'm feeling good.

MR: Anything we haven't covered?

BC: We talked about a lot of stuff. Hopefully, people like the new version. If you haven't heard the original then this will be new to you. If you have heard the original it's fun to put them side by side and compare and see what's different.

Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne

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A Conversation With Loreena McKennitt

Mike Ragogna: Loreena, your new release is The Journey So Far: The Best Of Loreena McKennitt. Assembling this project must have been both a joy and a headscratcher, coming up with a good representation of your career up to this point. How did it feel looking at your career?

Loreena McKennitt: I guess it goes with that phrase, "How time flies when you're having fun," on one hand it has been quite sobering to see the success that has happened given, particularly, that I never dreamed about being a singer. I wanted to be a veterinarian. So it's surprising from the standpoint that I even got into the career path much less that it became successful. It's also been quite gratifying, not just because of the success in terms of units sold or anything like that but rather how this career path has compensated for the university education that I didn't complete. As I pursued the history of the Celts from Ireland straight through to Turkey or China I realize in retrospect how much I've learned about the world, about politics, about history, about culture as well as music, of course, and people, religion, architecture, agriculture, you name it. It's been a very fascinating school of education. I also am acutely aware that my success has not been as a result of just my efforts alone or just a creative footprint, but an actual fact. Most successful people will say there's a bunch of other supporting people and processes that have gone on to create that success.

MR: Nice. You've also had a couple of people throw their facilities your way, for instance you recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios and you've also had people jump into the mix to help promote you and foster your growth. What do you think of the body of work itself?

LM: Well I think there are some strong points and I think there are weaker points. I think most creative people with a career and as many creative outputs as I have had would say there have been some complete successes. I don't know if one would term the opposite as complete failures but I think there are pieces and projects that are stronger than other things, but that's just being human and being creative.

MR: Yeah. But it's also being a scientist. You don't fail, you just find ways that don't work.

LM: Yes. I wouldn't feel that my education is anywhere near complete. I thought for better or for worse I have a pretty fair curiosity and I expect it will serve me for the rest of my life and that I'll always be learning things. But I think in terms of the strength or weakness of certain projects or songs...I think of an interview I heard with Leonard Cohen. The question to him was, "Where do those hits come from?" He replied by saying, "Well if I knew where they came from I'd go there more often." When I heard that I thought, "Yeah, right, exactly." Creativity is a kind of musical experiment. It's kind of a fishing expedition as well. For myself, I now know a lot of the circumstances that I need in order to be creative and have my strongest creative output. But it doesn't mean that just because I create those circumstances I'm therefore going to create something that is strong, I just heighten the chances that I am going to create something. You go out fishing in the morning, when it's still, with this kind of rod and those kinds of bait but just because you go out with all that stuff doesn't mean you're going to catch something.

MR: Along the way, obviously as you've been learning about Irish history and music your music has evolved, but how do you feel it's most evolved between then and now?

LM: Well I think that I've moved from being primarily immersed and infatuated with the more traditional Irish or Celtic repertoire to aiming my creative energies into what I would call more of an act of musical travel writing. In that paradigm of musical travel writing, rather than creating a piece of art... I mentioned a few minutes ago education, I certainly feel that the history of the Celts and following that history has been an incredible educational path. As I've been educating myself through my preoccupation of the Celts and their history. I've also from a career standpoint taken the stamp of spinning a lot of what I've learned and what I've been exposed to and some of my own thoughts and ruminations back into a musically creative document. I love travel writing over the ages, where people aren't necessarily academics, but they have a hobby interest in something and what you're learning is not just the subject of their focus but actually a lot of the peripheral events and experiences that they encounter along the way. So I draw a lot of that into my music. So how my music has changed is that it's gone from purely traditional music--and my own music inspired by William Blake on my first record--to now this whole musical travel writing. Therefore, because my travel has taken me across Europe and into Asia Minor, Mongolia, China, Turkey, I have given myself a license to draw upon those cultures to influence the arrangements of my music. So it's gone from more overtly Celtic to weaving in the Eastern and Middle Eastern influences.

MR: What do you think about those genres you're influenced by these days? Do you detect a strong pulse and lots of new creativity?

LM: Well to be honest, because I've taken the unusual step of managing my career I spent far less time listening to music and seeking it out than what I'd prefer, so I wouldn't have a very good pulse on current Irish or Celtic music to have a really informed opinion. However, I was in Ireland just over a month ago and there's really no question about it. There's a whole new generation of musicians coming up who are incredibly good. They are playing more of the traditional repertoire, but I found them incredibly good.

MR: On this set, you include "The Mystic Stream," which was used in The Mists Of Avalon, that wonderful miniseries that, to this day, really resonates with so many fans of the Arthurian legends. What was your reaction when you saw how it was used in that series?

LM: Oh, I was delighted. The way this works is that anybody who wants to use a piece of mine licenses it, so we knew they were interested and of course we gave them a license to do it, but it's always interesting to see. In the eighties I scored some music for some documentaries by the National Film Board Of Canada. Then in 1985 I composed some music for a future film called Bayo, which had a small release. I was then involved in scoring music for another film for television called Heaven On Earth, and I was also involved in working at the theatre in Stratford, Ontario scoring for some of the productions here. So I really enjoyed being part of other projects, but I really found, particularly in film, that when other film makers started coming to me to use my music in their films, they were tapping to some of the visual side that I'm very connected to when I'm researching and when I'm writing and arranging. I spend a lot of effort usually in the first minute or two in a song setting up the time period, the geographical place, anything that I can relay because when I'm travelling, whether it's to Turkey or Greece or Mongolia or whatever, there are images in my mind that I draw upon. So clearly, people are relating visually and almost in a cinematic way to those images.

MR: Yes, and to back that up Dan Brown did a shout out to you in his book Inferno because of "Dante's Prayer." It's wonderful, you've become a literary reference in addition to being a musician.

LM: Yes, I mean, there have been various writers over the past couple of decades that have referenced my music in their books, Dan Brown's is the most recent that I'm aware of. But yes, I hear a lot of the time from people who write or paint or do other various creative things. For me, I'm just deeply fascinated on a physiological level. I'd love to say, "Okay, let's put everybody's brain through an MRI scan and see what's going on with this neediness ethic.

MR: Yeah, and of course you've incorporated this education of others along the way by including quotes by Shakespeare, Yeats, Tennyson, it seems like you have a high standard of literacy when it comes to your lyrics.

LM: Yes, and when I've turned to what I've often jokingly referred to as the dead poet's society it's because I don't feel that my lyric writing is the strongest thing that I do, and secondly the Celtic tradition and Celtic culture is an oral culture, they never wrote anything down, so what is known about the Celts is primarily captured from the Romans. They were all about telling long stories or capturing their history and their knowledge. When I look at poems like "The Highwayman" or "Lady Of Shalott," that's such a Celtic thing to do, have a long narrative. I've tried to find poems that are closer into the Celtic tradition.

MR: And not everybody has performed for Queen Elizabeth.

LM: [laughs] or dined with her.

MR: Oooof course. What a thrill that was, huh?

LM: Yes, performing for her and Prince Phillip was something, but I knew I was invited to attend dinner, but I didn't realize I was going to be seated at her table, literally one person away. It was good.

MR: How you survive an experience like that I have no idea. You were also awarded the Order Of Canada, the highest civilian honor that can be bestowed on a person in Canada, you were appointed a knight of the National Order of Arts and Letters of the Republic of France, you're an honorary colonel in the Royal Canadian Airforce, where does this stop? Aren't you celebrated enough? My God.

LM: [laughs] I've obviously many interests, I feel that I benefit hugely from whole generations before me in so many, many ways and by people whose names I will never know. I honestly feel from a philosophical standpoint that I, too, want to give to the world. With something like the honorary colonel in the Canadian airforce it's an unbelievable privilege to be travelling and getting to know these individuals who do so much for Canada as well as participate in the international community. The various things are pretty fascinating and really help me give back.

MR: And speaking of giving back, you founded the Cook-Rees Memorial Fun for Water Search and Safety. That's no small undertaking!

LM: It really wasn't, actually. Anyone who's ever started a foundation or charity will know that there are a lot of hoops and parameters that you must satisfy in order to set that kind of thing up. But it was very gratifying to create at least some outlet after the personal tragedy that occurred in 1998. I know I'm not alone, it's a very common impulse when people are touched by some incredible tragedy they say, "This is so horrible I never want anyone to experience this," and in honor of all those people whose lives were lost you're going to make sure something good comes out of it. I realize I'm certainly not alone in that impulse.

MR: We need you in the United States because of your privacy advocation. You won that case in the UK.

LM: Yes, yes, I think that was very significant. I think back to 2005 or 2006 when that was going on and so many things that I was writing, whether to friends or in fact to my legal team, privacy is a human right that is enshrined in the United Nations declaration, the European convention, et cetera, but I don't recall it being carved out saying "except for the rich and famous." I remember also saying that people don't value or treasure their anonymity until they've lost it and no longer have control of it. Now you have people talking about their right to be anonymous. But I think one of the most disturbing things about the NSA is that there is so much focus that is being put towards the government, but nobody should forget for one second that Google and Facebook and Twitter have been collecting data for quite some times. That's model, but I've never seen quite enough criticism aimed in their direction. Now they've skewed it so they're the noble protectors of the public privacy and they're going after the government. I think that's a bit rich, don't you?

MR: Very intelligently put. That would explain your four honorary degrees.

LM: [laughs] As everyone says, I'm deeply honored to be honored. When one goes about their life and what they do, it's not to have a whole bunch of awards and feel that that's the basis of why you do things, but on the other hand it's always gratifying to be recognized by your community for what you do.

MR: What's great is that the title of your project is The Journey So Far, and what a journey you've had!

LM: Yeah, and I hope there will musically be more. Last year, I spent about three weeks travelling to Rajasthan in India tracking down not only music but also potential connections with the ancient Celts. It was an incredibly rich research trip. At the same time the music industry is in an advanced stage of collapse, and one needs to be very careful about in what way and how long you stay in it, because you could hurt yourself.

MR: Great way of putting that. What advice do you have for new artists?

LM: My advice is that music is an incredibly rich, power, unique medium that I encourage everyone at any age to become involved in, and they don't need to do it professionally. In fact, right now I would not encourage many people to do it professionally, and if young people are setting out to be cultivating a very strong second career choice, as someone who's managed and continues to run a small business in the bigger music industry I see how hard it is. I'm fine, but at the same time it's much, much harder than it was ten or fifteen years ago. I don't see any predictable, viable business model in place at this moment that would allow people to have this as a career path beyond the point at which they're single, either from the lack of remuneration or just the lifestyle. I don't actively encourage anyone to get into the music business as a primary career path at this time, or if they do, have a very strong second up their sleeve and give themself a timeline during which they will explore it and then they should make a decision of whether they think it's sustainable or not. I've encountered many, many musicians, some who are extremely well-known, who are as poor as church mice.

MR: That's really wonderful advice. You have a hand-in-hand relationship with music and other things which I'm imagining has led to a fuller life. You've given healthy advice in this way as far as how anybody should be treating their art. it's almost like a fifty-fifty proposition.

LM: I wouldn't even put the odds at that right now. I don't know about other disciplines, but certainly in music. I certainly hate to be discouraging of being involved in music because in society and in life there's so many ways to have music as an integral part. I would love to invite people to put their technology down for a little while and exchange it for a ukulele.

MR: That's a great line, I love that. When you look back at things like "Mummer's Dance," what do you think looking back at it?

LM: That was just such an incredible trip, it was sort of like an aberration. I think for most artists who have a hit single it just comes completely out the blue. I was just chugging along doing what I did and slowly growing my audience and so on and the folks at Warner Brothers records spotted this song and said, "We think this should be remixed and there might be a shot at radio." Sure enough, it crossed over three or four radio formats. I think that it gave me a brief touch of a place where a number of other artists have been, it gave me a view of some lesser-known corners of the music industry, some good, some not so good. It was fun. It was sort of like going to Mars for a day and then coming back to Earth and saying, "Right, this is the meat and potatoes of what I do." But at that time I was also a bit concerned that when people heard the remix they would go out on the basis of that one song and buy my album Book Of Secrets and be very disappointed. I didn't want people mislead into what my music was, but we had so much fun doing the video and it was so interesting doing all the research for that piece. That was something else.

MR: Beautiful. So you have all of these honorary degrees, you're a knight, you're a colonel, and now you have your Best Of, really, as an introduction, in a lot of ways, to not just your journey in music but in life. So? What's left?

LM: Well, we've kept a fairly steady tempo of releases since about 2006 and I'm looking to stop what I call "The front of the ship" here so that we can do some housekeeping here at the office. From a business standpoint, it's a bit like an archaeological site itself. We've been running so fast we haven't filed some things and we need to upgrade things. Similarly there are personal projects that I've set to the side until I came this far. So I'm looking forward to that, but at the same time as I said last year I went on a three-week fascinating trip to Rajasthan in India and I'm hopeful that I can move on and create at least one more recording, but we'll see.

MR: I seriously doubt it's going to be just one more recording. You're one of THOSE artists...there's no way.

LM: [laughs]

MR: It's wonderful to talk to somebody who's doing good things in the world, I'm honored to have interviewed you.

LM: Thank you, I've appreciated speaking with you.

Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne

THE WHISTLES & THE BELLS' "SKELETONS"

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Photo Credit: K. Simpson

According to The Whistles & The Bells' gang...

"'Skeletons' is off of the debut album from the Whistles & the Bells, the new project from Bryan Simspon. This body of work, twelve songs total, is an autobiographical snapshot of Byran's personal earthquake surrounding the education that studying of his maker. As C.S. Lewis once said, "It doesn't really matter whether you grip the arms of the denitst's chair of let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on," Trying to cover one's tracks is a dark, twisted affair. Can be a violent, power tool-wielding experience..that ends in a corn hole tragedy...of course?! As a kid video director, Joe Baughman used to shoot a lot of stop-motion videos in which people would act as his puppets. He decided to return to the format because it has a strange and twisted look that fits the mood of the song."

AND LAST BUT ABSOLUTELY NOT LEAST, MICHAEL PENN'S "GOOD GIRL DOWN"

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photo courtesy of CineMedia Promotions

Michael Penn's latest, "Good Girl Down," is the final song heard in the third season of Girls. "The nice thing about Girls is, they don't want a typical sitcom score, with those transitional pieces and stings," Michael explains. "It's more just finding little moments that underline the feeling, or something to get you from one feeling to the next. But then there are these opportunities for longer, more emotional pieces that I really love doing, where I can get more deeply into melody."

And here is the recording presented exclusively for HuffPost readers...