LAST-MINUTE ENDORSEMENT FROM 5-TIME OSCAR AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER, RICHARD TAYLOR:
GREETINGS, KIND SPIRITS FROM BEYOND THE VEIL.
My name is Meredith Yayanos. I'm a violinist, singer, and theremin-player currently located in New Zealand, and I am launching this Kickstarter campaign on behalf of The Parlour Trick, my Oakland-based "haunted chamber music" duo with fellow composer and multi-instrumentalist, Dan Cantrell.
Over the past few years, Dan and I have been sporadically meeting up to channel and record a series of eerie, retro sci-fi/quasi-Spiritualist parlor songs. And now we're closer than ever to finishing up our first full-length album and related materials. I'm confident that with some clever and rewarding crowd-funding, The Parlour Trick's A Blessed Unrest can, at long last, physically manifest!
Should you choose to back our project, you'll be able to pre-order A Blessed Unrest in a variety of formats, as well as aid in subsidizing ongoing production costs for:
- Completion of packaging design, manufacture, and release of The Parlour Trick's premiere full-length album, A Blessed Unrest, in digital, CD, vinyl, and limited edition deluxe boxed vinyl formats. ($5000)
- A from-the-ground-up Parlour Trick website build, including extensive logo and merch designs by artist and designer Star St. Germain. ($1500)
- The bottom-line material, labor, and shipping fees required to provide our many delectable, high-quality Kickstarter rewards. ($3000)
- Completion of the exquisitely shot "Half Sick of Shadows" music video starring Rachel Brice. ($500)
(The additional $723 bucks is the absolute lowball number that we came up with when calculating what our approximate taxation by Amazon and Kickstarter would be.) More details about those various production elements a bit later on.
WHO WE ARE AND THE MUSIC WE'VE MADE:
DAN CANTRELL: My longtime friend and collaborator Dan is an Emmy-award winning composer for film and television, as well as a session musician who has worked with everyone from Tom Waits, to Joanna Newsom, to Beats Antique. He has written librettos for several theatre, dance, and opera performances, he scored all three seasons of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack on the Cartoon Network, and memorably provided the live in-studio music for Mark Kistler's Imagination Station program for PBS. Dan's remarkable compositions and arrangements for The Parlour Trick are quite unlike anything he's created previously, fusing modern experimental elements with conscious nods to the music of Erik Satie, Bela Bartok, and J.S. Bach.
MEREDITH YAYANOS (aka THEREMINA): Over the course of my career, I've performed, toured, and recorded session work with many wonderful acts: Faun Fables, The Dresden Dolls, The Vau de Vire Society, Angelo Moore, Beats Antique, Stolen Babies, HUMANWINE, Jill Tracy, Elegi, Sport Murphy, Edison Woods, Raz Mesinai, Pinataland, David Garland, Thomas Truax, Kim Boekbinder, The Vanity Set, Love Life, and the Walkmen, to name a few! In recent years I've also done a fair amount of film-scoring, most notably for The Narrative of Victor Karloch, a Victorian ghost story puppet film funded by the Jim Henson Foundation, and for the award-winning, feature-length psychological thriller, Empty Rooms. In my own compositions and arrangements for The Parlour Trick, I've experimented with a kind of modern classical, aggro-ambient palette, exploring outmoded perceptions of female hysteria and riffing off (t)rappings of Spiritualism and concepts of the "monstrous feminine".
In 2006 --inspired by some of the creepier and more dysfunctional aspects of Victoriana, and bolstered by a lifelong study of classical, folk, and experimental music-- I founded The Parlour Trick. Dan came aboard in early 2009, and we began working slowly but steadily on material as a duo. Whenever I would travel back through California and crash in the guest room at Dan's stately old rental house in Oakland, a spooky new song or two was born. Over the past three years, he and I have both spent countless hours and dollars self-producing more than a full album’s worth of oneiric melodrama.
This album’s title, A Blessed Unrest, comes from a well-known quote by Martha Graham. Thematically, the record is very much a “Madwoman in the Attic” affair, steeped in melancholy, decay, ritual, channeling, vampirism, madness, agoraphobia, laudanum abuse.... lots o' Grimm, grinning stuff!
As you can hear from the samples, some of these compositions are dense and meticulously arranged multi-instrumental pieces, while others are more sparse ambient soundscapes. Instrumentation: piano, violin, harpsichord, voice, celeste, percussion, bowed glockenspiel, accordion, bells, musical saw, an ancient wheezing pump organ, a nonagenarian typewriter, cutups from wax cylinders we've recorded or repurposed, and melodic, harmonizing layers of theremin. Ninety-five percent of the material was recorded in the century-old Craftsman house Dan lives in, including ambient recordings of creaks, groaning floorboards, mysterious knocks and rustles. We've used ultra-modern binaural recording techniques and ye olde vintage equipment to put it all together.
Dan and I believe in this material. It's cinematic and strange, thoughtful and heartfelt. We think there's a substantial --if small-- audience for it out there. We just need to reach 'em... THROUGH THE ETHER.
GOODIES FOR GROOVY GHOULIES:
A Blessed Unrest's backers have a wide variety of reward tier goodies to choose from: high quality mp3 and video downloads, elegantly printed postcards and sheet music and posters, tangible CDs and vinyl, oddities such as live (via Skype) solo theremin concerts, and fancy-pants limited edition Kickstarter backer-only tidbits including artisanal talismanic chocolate rose mugwort skulls for ritual use, hand-crafted oujia boards, and limited edition modern cameo jewelry.
Bear in mind: at the present time, many of our reward prototypes are in the early-to-middling stages. Most of these photos are work-in-progress documentations. We will be constantly updating them as we go.
It's also highly likely that we'll be listing more limited edition and specialty item tiers in the days to come. I'll be sure to update our backers whenever anything new is posted.
MORE ON WHERE THE MONEY GOES:
A website domain has been bought and a placeholder put up. We will employ badass Rennaissance woman Star St. Germain to design our logo and build us a beautiful site from the ground up.
Recently the UK-based photographer Ellen Rogers, inspired by some Parlour Trick tracks I shared with her, shot a darkroom film series that communicates similarly otherworldly and darkly feminine themes. It is breathtaking work. We're going to buy the rights to use some of her photographs for our album art. Here's a sneak peek:
We're glad to give some dough to the marvelous, multi-talented Audrey Penven for use of her series of spooky 19th century Spiritualism-inspired digital and film photographs-- images we'll be using extensively on our website, as press photos, and in the development of merch items.
We've got a music video in the works, too; it's a moody, black & white film for Dan's song "Half Sick of Shadows" starring our cherished creative conspirator, the brilliant dancer Rachel Brice. It's co-directed by filmmaker Adam Lamas and myself, with editing and post-production provided by professional Hollyweirdos Bryan Shelton and Brien Hindman, respectively. We just need a smidge more dough to pay our team before we can finish up. Here's an enticing excerpt from the unfinished working cut:
(Isn't she AMAZING? Guh. Love da Bricey.) Plus, a bit of subsidy for our ever-mounting recording, engineering, and mastering costs. And, as previously mentioned, a bit more tacked on to cover the Amazon and Kickstarter fees.
PEERING INTO THE GREAT BEYOND:
There are a couple of things we'd really love to accomplish in addition to what we've already mentioned, provided we can raise a certain amount of funds above our minimum goal (and adjusting for any escalating merchandise production costs):
IF WE RAISE AN ADDITIONAL 5K:
Jill Tracy, the SF-based chanteuse and “cult darling of the Underworld”, has kindly invited Dan and I to premiere some of our Parlour Trick material at her own record release show on December 19th in San Francisco at the DNA Lounge. How wonderful would that be? However, I'm waaaay down in New Zealand at the moment. After several committed years of nonstop shoestring nomadry, I can't afford the international travel costs back to the States on my own. BUT. If we can raise 5K above our bare bones minimum and associated production costs, I'll promptly buy a round-trip NZ <--> California ticket so that Dan and I can perform at Jill's wonderful event on Dec. 19th, and throw an official Parlour Trick record release party of our own at some point between mid December 2012 and late January 2013. [UPDATE, NOV 18th: WE DID IT! California, here I come! Hope to see some of you at Jill's event on Dec 19th, and I'll keep you posted on other Parlour Trick appearances.]
IF WE RAISE AN ADDITIONAL 10K (or... more?):
My sweetheart Bunny is a professional creature designer, stop-motion animator and filmmaker who has worked in both the Hollywood and Wellington film industries for many years. Bun and I would love to shoot another Parlour Trick music video here in New Zealand, in cahoots with several incredible people we know from Weta Workshop. We've got some great ideas that could be developed for either a fairly low-budget, MacGyvered video shoot (5K), or for something a touch more lavish. (7K to 15K.) [UPDATE: WE DID IT WE DID IT WE DID IT SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!]
That about sums it all up. Thanks so much for stopping by! We appreciate your time and consideration. If you think this project might appeal to friends of yours, please do let them know about it.
Happy Hauntings from The Parlour Trick.
Risks and challenges
Hot diggity DIY, dearies!
With any luck, we'll eventually land some licensing and/or distribution deals for this material. In the meantime, we're prepared to manage the myriad business and creative aspects of putting out the first record, related materials and merchandise all by ourselves.
Obviously, we'll be doing so on a tight budget. We've asked for the baseboard minimum of what we'll need to be able to develop, produce, package, and ship everything out in a relatively timely fashion. (In Happy Funtime Pegacorn Sparklepants World, we'll end up making a bit more than the bottom line and have a little more insulation as a result. But we're not expecting that. We'll be overjoyed if we reach our minimum goal, period. And we'll be covered.)
In my educated opinion (as both the co-founder and editor of the independently produced arts and culture magazine Coilhouse, *and* as a grizzled, merch-slinging road hag) the projected timelines laid out here for are reasonable. However, should any part of the process take a little longer than expected, I humbly ask for patience and understanding. At the most, some of the more labor-intensive limited edition and high-end tangible reward items may be a couple of months late.
I personally guarantee that The Parlour Trick has come to Kickstarter to kick ass and chew ectoplasm. (And we're all out of ectoplasm.) Should any unforseen delays occur, I promise to keep everyone in the loop with lively backer updates, and together, we'll come up with some interesting interim events to keep people cheerfully engaged and entertained.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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