Then you get it, then you do…

February 16th, 2012

Well it’s been a busy year. At Wooster we’ve been touring Vieux Carré a lot, and did a short remount of Hamlet. Also started working on Troilus & Cressida, which goes to England this summer, where we’ll be collaborating with the RSC.

Right now I’m performing in the new Wooster Group show Early Plays, as well as doing the sound and live music. Richard Maxwell is directing, in one of the rare times someone other than Liz directs the Group. He brought along some great New York City Players folks too. You can read about it in The Observer and The New York Times. It’s really great working with all of these awesome people.

UPDATE: I got a great mention in the New York Times! Ben Brantleysays, “Bobby McElver did the excellent sound design.” We also had a great review in The New Yorker with a really cool artist rendering of the show. (See below!)

I also worked on Half Straddle’s Seagull (Thinking of You), which was a hit at Prelude. Girls singing Russian folk metal. It’s pretty great.

Lanfair Field (my band with Matt Richter in LA) released a new song and video using material from the Prelinger Archive. A new EP will be finished this year.

I also have an album of new solo songs in the works. Tina Satter wrote the lyrics for this one:

It’s still a work in progress. I’ll be performing it at CATCH 50 in May. Anyone play cello? Contact me.

Early Plays artist rendering in The New Yorker, March 5th (that's me in the fo'castle!)

Marching into the Pony Palace / Not the pop you are used to

February 21st, 2011

As some of you may know, I’ve been pretty busy working on Half Straddle’s In The Pony Palace / Football at The Bushwick Starr. It’s a show about an all-girl football team. I co-arranged the music with Chris Giarmo and it’s performed live by a brass marching band and myself on piano/accordion/laptop. There’s been an amazing response — great press, sold-out run, lots of buzz. It’s a very exciting time for me right now. The best part? I get to watch the show every night, playing and singing live.

The music is sourced from two very different sides of pop — Lady Gaga and The Rolling Stones. Of course it’s not the pop you are used to. For both bands we avoided the hits and pulled from b-sides and obscure albums. And sometimes from my weird, dark covers. Almost everything was built using Ableton Live — sampling instrumental versions of the original songs we built new loops that served our needs, tweaked them, changed tempos/keys, then built something new with live instruments playing mashed up, misplaced melodies on top of it all. Many scenes are locked in musical time, meaning I have to take cues on the first available downbeat after a line is delivered, anticipate the delivery, cue the band, and trigger the change as tightly as possible. This would be near-impossible without the musical intuitiveness of Live.

The marching band would have been near-impossible without the talentedChris Giarmo. Since Chris can notate music (unlike my self-taught slacker self) he could make live-music changes as easily as I could make electronic changes. So in tech, he could scribble out notes, give it to the band, and BAM! Done. This allowed us to grow and change with the show up until the last minute.

Here is a relevant quote from nytheatre.com

Pony Palace also features the tiny but formidable marching band comprised of Bobby McElver, Jon Lijoi, Mary Rasmussen, and Justin Dayhoff. I’m convinced: every play needs a marching band. Their big sound adds so much to a work like this, where nothing is more important than the mood that hangs when the night comes to a close. If anyone makes it cool to be in the band, it’s this crew.

Gothamist called it at “clever, pop-inflected score.” Which, for those of you who’ve been following my reviews, is the first non-”haunting” description in a while. I don’t know what it is, but I tend to flock to the darkness in music and sound. Good thing Chris was around this time to balance it with piccolo solos!

Here’s some of the amazing press we’ve recieved:

The New York Times, Critic’s Pick

Time Out New York


L Magazine


Oh, and did I mention I’m in costume?

(Music samples coming soon!)

My Fall (as in Autumn, or what I’ve been up to lately — not some sort of reflection on demise)

November 22nd, 2010

Hi there. Why am I even mentioning demise? Things are going pretty well. Oh well. Anyway, I’ve been spending a lot of time running sound for Soho Rep and The Civilians. Great shows. Great people. Get out and see their work. I feel lucky to see it every night. I’ve also been busy designing sound/music for these fine productions:

The Moth & The Flame (Target Magin @ The Brick)

Candy Tastes Nice (@ HERE Arts Center)

And I wrote music for the photographer Jen Cleary’s website.

Also working on a pop-cover project. More info soon. But for now, here’s a few teasers 

(Lady Gaga)


The Music Has Moved West

March 8th, 2010

"The Day On Which A Man Dies" - At The Bushwick Starr, March 17-21

“The music has moved West, it isn’t our kind of music,” says a character in Tennessee Williams’ obscure play The Day on Which a Man Dies. This line feels both backwards and apt in my case; I am writing an original score for this “occidental noh play” – as Williams describes it – and I’m pushing my musical boundaries a bit in the process, only in my case I’m moving the music east. Asian flutes, ukulele, and percussion aren’t my usual instruments of choice, but they’re what this play needs. It isn’t my kind of music, or at least it wasn’t at first.  I’ve attacked the “asian” pentatonicmelodies with my own style, and of course included some western surprises. The content? The director, Jake Hooker put it well:

“It really is a strange, mysterious, and challenging piece that swirls around the death of Jackson Pollock, the life of Yukio Mishima, suicide and rejuvenation, and, of course, noh theatre.”

Now that is something I can get into. As should you. Come see my take on kabuki music, performed live, at the wonderful Bushwick Starr.

It’s being presented by Target Margin Theatre as part of their “Unknown Williams” festival.

Wednesday March 17 @ 7:30
Friday March 19 @ 9:30
Saturday March 20 @ 7:30
Sunday March 21 @ 7:30

The Bushwick Starr
207 Starr Street – Brooklyn

Brian Hirono, Ian Merrigan, Chinaza I Uche, and Peter Zazzali

Directed by Jake Hooker
Sets and Lights by Jonathan Cottle
Costumes by Mia Bienovich
Original music and sound by Bobby McElver

Performing with The Municipal Abatoir, directed by Diana Konopka

R.S.V.P. on Facebook!

A little preview…

February 28th, 2010

of what I’m working on for Liliana Cattaneo of contACT ARTS. A one-woman dance performance with a whole bunch of me playing heart-tug little gems like this:

More coming soon!

Thank you Young Jean Lee’s Theatre Co.

February 28th, 2010

Just a quick shout-out to the cast and crew of LEAR. I somehow finagled my way into the  Assistant Sound Designer position and they trusted me to run the sound every night for their sold-out run at Soho Rep. Executing Matt Tierney’s 12-speaker (including 4 subs!) design was a thrill. So much bass. So good.

I loved watching the show. The complexities of the text are still resonating with me.  And I’m gonna miss all the great people I had the privilege of working with every night. We ran a tight ship. Thanks y’all. See ya ’round.

Well hello

November 25th, 2009

I’ll be posting something substantial soon. Meanwhile, check out the sidebar for more info.