“I don’t know if you’ve heard about the philosopher John Stuart Mill. If something feels good, then it’s good. There’s the great argument against that has always been like well, what if you were an oyster and you felt nothing except for bliss, but you never could have really any experiences? Is that not the ultimate life?“Alex Aldea, creator and co-composer, “The Oyster” audio drama by The Paragon Collective
Join Alex Aldea and Andrew Joslyn, co-composers for audio drama The Oyster in a surreal soundtrack to a dystopian tech noir story. An immersive listening experience. Headphones recommended.
Alex : Dude, so like, it’s gotta at least be like – I was thinking about it the other day – it’s gotta be like 15, 17 years at this point.
Andrew: Probably Yeah.
Alex: Holy shit.
Andrew: Yeah, even film stuff with like Corbin Bernsen and Denise Richards There you go!
Alex: Andrew plays every single string instrument. So even like in Darkest Night, a lot of the strings that you hear are real strings.
John: The audio quality in this episode is a Zoom rip. Sorry about that. But I got some great conversation with these guys. My name is John Bartmann. I’m the creator of How I Make Music. I’ll let these two audio drama stars. take it from here.
Andrew: The piece of music we’re listening to in the background is called The Opening of the Oyster. It’s a dystopian soundtrack from the psychedelic audio drama The Oyster. Today, we’ll break it down and get into why and how it was made. You’re listening to How I make music, where audio drama composers get to tell their own stories. Every Wednesday, we break apart a song or soundtrack or composition and take a trip – a wild trip – into how it was made. My name is Andrew Joslyn.
Alex: And I’m Alex Aldea.
Andrew: I’m a composer from Seattle, Washington. And this is How I Make Music.
Alex: The Oyster takes place 30 years in the future, where humans basically don’t have as many resources and they have to figure out whether they want to plug in and just feel eternal bliss in the machine or face the harsh reality. The basic premise of the show is a philosophical argument on utilitarianism. This show came about really quickly. I kept thinking about this idea of “do we plug in?” Or do we not know what happens if you invent something like this and how it kind of goes in society for months and months and months? Definitely psychedelic. I knew we had something with the show. You never really know if you have anything, let’s be quite honest! The point where you can work on a project and you’re like, “oh, this isn’t terrible. I don’t feel so delusional about it.” I don’t know if you’ve heard about the philosopher John Stuart Mill. If something feels good, then it’s good. There’s the great argument against that has always been like well, what if you were an oyster and you felt nothing except for bliss, but you never could have really any experiences? Is that not the ultimate life? That monologue “choirs of crickets fill the sky with a cascading cacophony”… we actually had her record that monologue on top of Love On A Real Train by Tangerine Dream.
Andrew: These episodes are so musical because it’s an audio drama. The music has to … not foreshadow and give away too much, but it has to help guide the audience. Emotionally. On the journey that, you know, we’re taking them on. I usually like to think of it as like breathing. You know, if the VO allows room to take a breath, let the music take a breath with the VO as well. So sometimes what that means to me is just add a longer reverb. So you can’t hit them over the head and be like super aggressive, but you also got to give them enough guidance. So I would, I would choose something really subtle. You know, just drones, some other stuff. Make sure the chord progression isn’t anything too aggressive. Make sure that none of the harmonies go a little too far up in the spectrum. You know. Never Never, never, never never step on the vocal no matter what you do. I come from the pop realm so I always think of stuff as underscore and top line – top line being your your vocals, your main melodies, your VO voiceovers. You don’t want to draw too much attention away from the vocal and to yourself as the composer.
Andrew: Omnisphere is this just huge synth library. I don’t know there’s like 500, 700 frickin samples in there. And I also love Zebra 2. Zebra, Serum, especially in this kind of like world building. Heavyocity is one of the plugins. One of the things that we love to use is I think it’s Evolve Mutations.
Alex: Dude, we can’t give away all of our plugins we’re out. I’m not going to get them all the way I was literally going to be someone who’s gonna go through here and like download all the plugins we use there’s gonna be like three darkest night soundtracks and like six months.
Alex: My process for the most part is I’ll just listen to a part over again and over again and just jam something in the mid range like a piano or whatever. Then I’ll build it, I’ll build it. And then usually a day later I’ll have something and it’s usually worth … not leaving my house for like an entire day.
Alex: We have like a little choir on top. It’s kind of mixed with whistling bells. We have Gregorian chants towards the end. We have a substance bass that goes with the Gregorian chants. We have a whole horn section we have a trumpet layer and a horns layer, brass layer, woodwinds layer, string ensemble layer that kicks in right when that part builds. Then also with this with this track we played a lot with with Logan’s vocals. I mean I can honestly consider that part of the score. I love sound particles and it basically is a way of just like making this whole like … multiplying the vocals by like 1000. Especially if I’m trying to make something that sounds really trippy the characters coming to these big realizations about her life and how she’s choosing to look at what it means to be alive when everything goes to shit.
Alex: That’s about it for this week’s episode. We’ll listen to the full track in just a moment. But before we do that, thank you for listening to How I Make Music. We’ve been listening to music featured on the audio drama called The Oyster. Tto hear the full story or check out Andrew and his my other compositions, Follow the links in the show notes. Andrew and I did Casefile, Darkest Night, Deadly Manners.
Andrew: I did a bunch of co-writing for Leslie Odom’s record, Ke$ha, all the Macklemore records that have ever come out, I’m a co-writer on. And then the list goes on and on and on.
Alex: How I Make Music is created by John Bartmann. For audio experiences that keep people listening, contact John Bartmann via the show notes. And now, here’s The Opening of The Oyster, a dark unsettled, dystopian underscore in its entirety. My name is Alex Aldea (and I’m Andrew Joslyn) and thanks for listening to How I Make Music.
Tangerine Dream – Love On A Real Train
Ke$ha – Take It Off
ABOUT THIS SHOW
How I Make Music is where audio drama composers get to tell their own stories. In a dramatically edited sound experience, we challenge composers to break apart a song, soundtrack or composition and get into why and how it was made.
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How I Make Music is created by John Bartmann. For audio experiences that keep people listening, visit johnbartmann.com