Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Poke Press Digest Podcast: Episode 41-Disputed Pokemon Songs

 Anne from Pikapi Podcast drops by to discuss a number of "disputed" Pokemon songs. "Flying Without Wings", "Happy Together", and several others go under the microscope to determine just how tied they are to the franchise. In the process, we cover a Whoopi Goldberg movie, a car commercial, and some other oddities, so it's definitely worth a listen:


Monday, October 12, 2020

Poke Press Digest Podcast: Episode 40-Discussing the Music of "Hey You, Pikachu!"

In this episode, Anne from Pikapi Podcast helps me discuss the music of "Hey You, Pikachu" for the N64. While this title is most famous for having the player speak to it, there's also a lot of sound output to go over. Even if you've never played this game (sorry Anne), the discussion definitely has something to offer. As usual, we also have a game discussion after the outro:

Links:
Pikapi Podcast
Poke Casters Network
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Poke Press Digest Podcast: Episode 39-Peter Moshay ("They Don't Understand")/Mark Chait ("The Power Of One")

 In the first segment (1:10-17:56), I interview Peter Moshay, an audio engineer who worked on Dream Street's "They Don't Understand" from the Pokemon 2000 soundtrack. In addition to providing details regarding the recording session, we also discuss some of the many acts he's worked with over the years.

Our second segment (19:13-36:09) is an archival interview with Mark Chait, co-writer of "The Power Of One", also from Pokemon 2000. Like Peter, Mark has had a long and storied career, so it should be an interesting listen:


Links:

Live From Daryl's House

Peter Moshay

Pam Sheyne Interview

Mark Chait

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Peter Moshay explains how Dream Street's "They Don't Understand" was recorded

Back in 2000, boy band Dream Street recorded two versions of "They Don't Understand". One for the soundtrack of Pokemon 2000, and another for their debut album released in 2001. I talk to recording engineer Peter Moshay about the process, as well as his overall career in the music industry, and how the current situation has affected his work:


Transcript:

Steven: So folks, before we start the interview, there is a little bit of sad news I got to put right up here at the front. Earlier this summer, Chris Trousdale-one of the members of Dream Street-very sadly after a bad case of COVID-19 passed away in early June, just before he would have turned 35. And the band did a little-you know-mini online reunion stuff like that, but it is a cruel reminder that life is not fair, and of course we're dedicating this interview to him, his fans, his band mates, his family-all that stuff. Hope...best wishes given the circumstances.

Steven: Hi folks, Steven here. I'm on the phone with Peter Moshay. He's an audio engineer-he does a lot of audio work for music and maybe a few other things, but as far as Pokemon goes, he did the audio engineering for the recording session of "They Don't Understand" by Dream Street, which of course was on the soundtrack to Pokemon 2000. And we're going to talk about that as well as his more recent work and really his whole career which is very interesting. He's worked with some really interesting folks over the years, but Peter, why don't you go ahead and start off at the beginning? Where are you from originally, and how did you get into doing music?

Peter: Hi everybody, I was...I started growing up in California out in the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood area, and being a musician myself when i was younger, I got very into the technical end of it early on. I worked in music stores as a kid because I would hang out in them and take lessons at the music stores. And waiting for my mom to pick me up or my dad to pick me up I spent so much time in the music stores fiddling around with all the stuff that they had, I ended up working in a music store at a very young age, and that kind of progressed into doing more technical things, where I went into working in recording studios and kind of pushed my playing to the side, and really fell in love with doing audio recording and stuff like that. 

Then it slowly went into working with a lot of particular bands going on the road with them as well, helping them to kind of duplicate the records that they were making live. So, being an audio engineer out on the road, I gravitated towards that and it's been a great career for all these years. I've worked with countless bands that many people might know. 

Steven: Yeah, and I think one of the the big ones is actually Hall and Oates, which I'm sure most folks have at least heard of [even] if they're not exactly familiar with who that is. How did that one come about?

Peter: Well, after many years of traveling with bands on the road you meet a lot of other bands. I had toured around with lots of bands over the years: The group Journey, the Cars [?], Manilow [?], groups like Quiet Riot, hard rock groups, Kenny Loggins. Over that traveling time, you meet lots of other people. Well, in the travels I met some of the guys in the Hall and Oates band, and they needed somebody and I fit the bill, and started working with them back in 1987, all the way till now. 

I still do work with them. They're out there actively, always touring and recording, and we started this show about 11+ years ago called "Live From Daryl's House" which is an online...live musician's playing in Daryl's house, online and that's kind of become its own thing. We've been streaming that show on the Internet since since about dial-up ended and we had DSL. As soon as we got enough bandwidth to be able to put video with the audio, we were doing it and we've been doing it ever since, and we've spawned off into having  restaurants with live music in them called Daryl's House Club, and I run those places now where we have music every day of the week. Live music and great food.

Steven: Yeah, it definitely has helped you out this year. You've been very ahead of the curve with some of your knowledge there and it's really paid off this year. We'll talk more about what you're doing more recently a little bit later in the interview, but since a lot of folks may not be familiar with what goes in on the technical side of doing a recording, can you sort of briefly describe what your responsibilities are on a typical studio recording? 

Peter: Yeah. Well, once the song's written-that song was written by Steve Diamond and Robbie Neville two [indistinct] and songwriters themselves. They'll sketch out the song...generally they might sketch it out either on an acoustic guitar, piano, whatever their instrument is, and then like the two guys will get together maybe and finish off the arrangements of the song-just how it'll basically go.

Then you've got to go into the studio, which now is your laptop or even your iPad or your phone, but we would go into the recording studio and put down all the individual instruments-that's like the drums the bass, the guitars, the vocals, backing vocals, all that kind of stuff, and you do it either all at one time in part or in pieces. 

So, for instance like the guys they would record their vocal parts...usually we would put them in the same room divided with some sound treatment-sound baffling-between them, and they would sing their parts, kind of all down together. And sometimes-maybe if somebody messed up a lyric or this or that-we'd go back and fix it. That's the general idea of how you would try to do it. A lot of the instruments would be pre-recorded. That would be done before you would do the vocals, but that's kind of how it goes. You would put the instrument track down and then the vocals generally last. 

Then after that comes the mixdown process-once everything's done, the mixdown process is separate, and generally the mixdown process is done within a day, [where] you really focus on making it sound the absolute best it can. 

Steven: Okay that's a great overview. So, how did you wind up working on "They Don't Understand" then? You talked a little bit about the the writing team. Did they happen to just fall in your lap there, or were they in the orbit of certain people? How did that come about?

Peter: Yeah, they were in [the right] orbit. Both Steve and Robbie Neville were (at the time) working with both Hall and Oates, and [I?] was working on those records at the same time. So when this project came up, you know I just happened to be working on their other projects as well. So, of course you know the man in the room gets the gig, and I just moved over to that project that day.

At that period of time, every single day was a new project, whether it was the Dream Street project, or I at the time was working with Mariah Carey, or Daryl and John, there was always something going on every day at that point in time. It was a big music machine in New York City at that time.

Steven: Yeah, New York, always pretty much known for its music, but especially busy then-and largely now as well.

All right, well, what did you know about Pokemon when it came in? You seem to have some familiarity, but you definitely were not in the age demographic for the franchise at the time. What did you know about Pokemon?

Peter: Oh yeah. You know, I've been in Japan so many times, and Pokemon was huge all over the world, but especially Japan, so I had seen it quite a lot and some of the guys...Steve had kids and many of my friends had kids, so it was definitely around big time at the time. Always around, and Nintendo was so big at the time too, so everybody I think was aware of it at the time.

Steven: So you actually had some decent knowledge, which is, you know, a little different. We always hear those stories with Donna Summer or even more recently with Bill Nighy and some of the other folks on Detective Pikachu, but you seem to have sort of an inside track, so you kind of knew what you were getting into. That's pretty neat.

Peter: Yeah, there was also-at that period of time-a lot of people in the music industry starting to work on music specifically for video games and stuff, because video games at that time were starting to become really ingrained not only in culture, but it was big business and people wanted to up the quality of the the audio and the music on video games then, and get-just like this-custom songs put in. It created a whole industry in the recording world, and now it's a big part of the video game industry.

Steven: Okay, well, going back to "They Don't Understand" and the recording session for that, obviously you had...there were the various instruments in there, and of course there were the the five guys. They were really kind of like late middle school early high school back then in 2000, but they were coming in to do their vocal parts. 

One interesting thing-you had mentioned the kid that Steve Diamond had-Cole Diamond is listed as a song inspiration for "They Don't Understand". I don't know exactly what happened there. It sounds like he probably was talking with his dad said something along the lines of, "hey you could rework this into a Pokemon song. Why don't you?" and somehow that that all went through there, but there are two versions of the song. How did that kind of affect the recording process?

Peter: Yeah, What happens during the recording process is when you're doing one-at least at that time-it was kind of the start of the period of where people would think about doing multiple versions of the song, because if you would do a pop version of the song, at that time there was a lot of hip-hop going on, a lot of rap going on, a lot of different versions. A lot of electro dance music going on at the time.

So when you're doing the song, you would immediately think like, hey would this song work as like a dance club song? Could you speed it up? So we would always think that way, and we would take those original tracks that were recorded-maybe just the vocals-and get it together with a person that would do more dance oriented tracks and let them change it up into maybe a different version of the song. Very common. It keeps the cost down too because you've already kind of got the song already laid out and the vocals done on it and you can take those things, and just add different music to it and make it a new song.

Steven: And how did that exactly play out here? There are about half a dozen lines that are different between the two versions of the song-basically, the other version removes all the Pokemon references and replaces them with more relationship-based stuff. Did you have to record it through like both times, or did you record the lines that were different separately? How did that work for this session?

Peter: We would generally do alternate takes, and have some alternate version lines in there and keep them separate, just like you would do maybe in a song that has cursing in it. You would separately record those so you could do a separate mix with those vocal lines in it, and back then the music was recorded digitally [just like now], so it would be easy to splice them in.

Steven: Yeah, I figured you might want to save a little work there and not have to go through-you might do maybe the line before that and the line after it to sort of make it feel more natural, but it sounds like you wouldn't record like the whole thing, right? 

Peter: Yeah, maybe not the whole song. We would just pick the lines, but you would always just record the whole line, not just pop in a word. You'd record a whole new line because a lot of times you'd have to change the way you would phrase it or something like that. It just depends on what you're trying to do and say.

Steven: Gotcha. All right. Well, do you have any other particular memories of the recording session? I know you were kind of in a separate room from the performers and what not because you had to monitor the levels and things like that, but any other particular memories from that session?

Peter: Oh yeah, we definitely spent time hanging out and talking. They were very interested in hearing because they knew about the group Hall and Oates, and they were interested in talking about Mariah Carey at the time and all the different projects, and asking about...artists always kind of like to ask about the other people you're working with, and they're always interested in hearing stories about it.

So, I don't remember exactly specifically what we talked about, but I do remember that we were sitting around, and since they were young and they were always interested in the music of course because they were musicians, I'm sure we were telling stories about-I was telling them about things that were going on and working with other artists at that time. 

I just remember they were just such great kids, man they really were, and we always had a blast. And I saw them for multiple days actually, because I was working in the same studios, and so they were still in there doing stuff working on other songs at the time. It was always fun working during that era of time. 

Steven: All right, well, obviously it's been, you know, 20 years since that was recorded. You've done a ton of stuff since. What's some of the stuff you've been working on more recently?

Peter: Well, we have our venue that we work on we have our "Live From Daryl's House" tv show that we've been doing for 11 years now. We have a couple of restaurants/music venues-Daryl's House Club in upstate New York here where I'm at now, and we stream our live shows five nights a week usually. So you can see a lot of the stuff that we're doing already on the web, so you can watch...it's kind of like peeking into a club that has lots of live music, and it's super high quality going out so you're watching music being played live by musicians...great bands we always have great bands five nights a week, and we just like to keep the music world alive out there and just expose it to people. 

Steven: Yeah, like we said earlier, you had some experience that really has paid off given the current circumstances, which are unfortunate, but you've managed to adapt relatively well. You mentioned the the Facebook [page] for Daryl's house and whatnot. Do you have any social media or website that's that's for you specifically?

Peter: You know, I don't really...I mean I have my own webpage-petermoshay.com, but it's you know...I'm an extension of the artists i work with, and I have been absolutely blessed to have worked with all the best artists in the world. I mean, I have done hundreds if not thousands of records over the years, and shows and traveled the entire planet numerous times. 

I really like to be seen through the artists I work with. I am an extension of the people I work with, and I love for people to go to our webpage and just check out some of the bands. I engineer and record and do the video production for all of the bands up there, and you're gonna be amazed. I guarantee people will find a new band that you didn't know about that you'll love. 

Steven: All right, well, thank you very much-been great having you on Peter.

Peter: Thanks for having me. 

Steven: This has been Steven Reich. All right folks, thanks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Musician Interview: Jordan Moore

I recently had an opportunity to interview Jordan Moore, a musician who's produced a number of covers of both classical and video game music. We discussed his musical training, starting his YouTube channel, and his more recent and future work:

Monday, June 29, 2020

Poke Press Digest Podcast: Episode 37-Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution Movie Discussion

As promised, this episode contains our discussion of the non-musical aspects of Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution. Anne from Pikapi Podcast joins once again to go over the art style, script, and other facets of the remake. We also talk about whether the movie got released the way we wanted, and what kind of CGI Pokemon movies we'd like to see in the future:



Links:
Pikapi Podcast

Monday, June 15, 2020

Why it Works: The B-52's and "The Chosen One"

The B-52's eclectic body of work made them a great choice to record a song for the Pokemon 2000 soundtrack. Find out why here:


Transcript:

You wouldn't hire just any band to do a song based on the legend from Pokémon 2000, as not many acts would have the talent to give it just the right balance of seriousness and humor. Thankfully, the B-52's were willing and able to provide their services for the soundtrack. Sure, "The Chosen One" might not be as off-the-wall as "Rock Lobster", but it does capture the sense of fun the band is known for, and with its surf rock influence, it fits in nicely with the movie's tropical island setting. If you want to draw parallels to the characters of the movie, well, Fred's voice does remind me of the island elder, and Kate and Cindy could represent Melody, but it's more likely you would simply attribute it to a musical group performing during the festival-I suppose that's an idea if this movie ever gets a remake. In any case, do you think they made the right decision tapping this group for this song? Be sure to let us know. Thanks.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Poke Press Digest Podcast: Episode 36-The music of "Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution" (Part 2)

In this episode, we continue our discussion of the music of Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution. Anne from Pikapi Podcast helps me analyze the absence of "Brother My Brother", the score of the remake, and the opening sequence. After that, we review some social media comments and messages from the chat. If you want to know what we thought of the movie itself, we'll have that discussion in an upcoming episode.



Links:
Pikapi Podcast
Neil Jason Interview

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Poke Press Digest Podcast: Episode 35-The music of "Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution" (Part 1)

This episode features the first part of a discussion of the music of Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution. Anne from Pikapi Podcast helps me analyze both "Keep Evolving" and a new rendition of "Together With The Wind". After that, we begin talking about music that's not in this remake by going over "We’re A Miracle". If you want to hear even more about that song, be sure to listen after the outro:



Links:
Pikapi Podcast
PCN Event Info
First Movie Music Discussion

Thursday, May 28, 2020

"The Journey Starts Today" single releases June 12th

iTunes recently posted a listing for "The Journey Starts Today", the opening theme for the latest season of the Pokemon anime dub. Performed by Canadian band Walk off the Earth, the single is set to be released on June 12th, the same day the season debuts on Netflix in the US.