The NoHo Arts District motto should be:
“NoHo is only as great as its people.” (We need to make tshirts)
Meet creative pals Gene Micofsky, a songwriter, performer, and composer of music and North Hollywood filmmaker Gregory Kasunich. They came up with the song and video concept of “Crazy Times” that showcases some of NoHo’s murals, but animated.
The “Crazy Times” video was an opportunity to highlight some of North Hollywood’s public art pieces, meanwhile give something back to the community. Proceeds for the “Crazy Times” single will go towards The Academy of Music for the Blind.
How did you come up with the idea of “Crazy Times?”
The actual creation of Crazy Times happened quickly, in a frenzy of inspiration following a show I had performed that evening. However, subconsciously my brain had been working on it all week. During a casual conversation with a friend about the insanity of current events, the idea came up that I should write a song about the crazy times we live in. I had a notion of what I wanted to say, but not sure how. Periodically during the week I imagined every possible way to set those lyrics to music. Once the hook landed, the main feel of the music came into focus, and the song started to write itself. I came to a stopping point, thinking I would write the rest of the song the following day, not realizing it was already finished. Sometimes you need to allow a song be concise, if it feels appropriate.
Why did you choose murals as the “Crazy Times” video backdrop?
The concept for the video was largely the brainchild of director Gregory Kasunich. We have been collaborating on film and tv projects for a long time, so we often meet to just to talk and share ideas. This has proved to be hugely beneficial for both parties in shaping the direction of our independent endeavors. Both Gregory and I are huge proponents of the visual arts, and have always felt that a part of what makes Los Angeles so distinctive and beautiful is the incredible wealth of art on the walls all over the city. So why not showcase that? It made sense to create something that captured the spontaneity of the song. We felt a calculated, slickly-produced video might ruin the charm of the music. So, filming was done with a small crew over the course of one very hot day. However, Gregory felt it needed more. He brought onboard a text artist (Christina Scamporrino) and animator (Tahnee Gehm) to create animation on top of the footage. This wasn't in the original plan, but it's become a crucial part of the magic that makes the video so entertaining to watch.
Why did you choose The Academy of Music for the Blind?
I've done quite a bit of work with them, and it's really a fabulous and unique organization. What makes AMB so special is their work transcends merely sculpting kids into great musicians. It's a safe haven where they can cultivate their individuality, learning valuable skills they carry into their adult lives. As it goes with many non-profits, there are needs that are sometimes met and sometimes not, depends on what funding is available. The organization can really use a state of the art computer recording setup, so the students can properly learn skills in audio post-production. It's a fairly new profession for blind musicians made possible by progress in music software. This is an incredible opportunity for the kids to develop a career path that could help them lead more independent and fulfilling adult lives.
“I live and work in the NoHo Arts District and pass these incredible murals everyday, so when Gene and I were discussing this project, I pitched him an idea that embraces all this amazing public art. Because there is such a density of public art, we were able to film the bulk of the video right here in North Hollywood. I then worked with the animator Tahnee Gehm and artist Christina Scamporrino to bring the murals to life, so this is a case of art inspiring more art in a very direct way.” - Gregory Kasunich
Tell us about Subway Sessions?
Similar to the Crazy Times video, the original idea came from Gregory Kasunich. It was inspiration that happened over a couple bar room drinks, as most do in LA. I had been writing a ton of music but I had no documentation of any of it. I wanted a way of having more internet content but also capturing some of this music. At some point Gregory blurted out "why don't we ride the Metro Red Line and film songs live at some of the stops?" I had never done anything like this before. So it was really fun and challenging at the same time. Warts and all, we captured some pretty cool moments.
Is there something else you’d like to highlight?
Right now I am playing live shows all over Los Angeles while in the mixing stage of a full-length record, to be released early 2018. This will be followed by a few more music videos and singles, culminating with a spring/summer 2018 tour in support of the release. Concurrently, I am in the process of exploring and developing preliminary musical ideas for Gregory Kasunich's new film. Being that Gregory is a very musically-centric and detail-oriented director, the score will play a pivotal role. For this type of film, it's helpful to begin that process as early as possible. You really want to capture something special, and time permitting, that can often take a little extra digging.
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