New section amplifies local music

By Dan Page

Greetings. Welcome to the new music column.

It’s been a while since I spoke to some of you, the first time for others, so let me introduce myself. I am a freelance writer and editor with a background in film and music. From 1996 to 1999, I was a writer/editor with Ruth L Ratny’s Original Screen Magazine, back when I felt it was worth reading.

There, I penned the monthly “On the Beat” column, drawing on my knowledge of music as a former musician, and journalism and film school grad. I even interned in a music house which spawned several major talents in the city, Elias Music, from whence came Steve Ford, Bryan Rheude and a number of other, A-list producing and composing talents leading the business in town.

Enough of the past, on to the future. This is where you will find my Inside Track column. When the column isn’t running, you will find other music stories by me thoroughly covering Chicago music and sound. In addition to being an important resource for you, this space also should be a sounding board for things that concern you, and a platform for sharing the creative fruits of your labors in the studio.

Music is a lot of fun to create, but it can also be hard work, serious work, and the best of it should be shared with the largest possible audience. With that in mind, please contact me when you have a project that you are just dying to share with’s exponentially-expanding readership.

MAILROOM SCRIMMAGE? The creative team at Comma was somehow able to compose themselves long enough, between bursts of laughter, to score the gut-busting Reebok spot that ran just after half-time in Sunday’s Super Bowl game. Though insiders at Comma were hush on the details, it seems the commercial aims to please even the most jaded Bowl spot critics.

Fifteen-second teasers have been running on ESPN and MTV warning that “he” is 6-ft-6, 300 lbs. and “in your office this Sunday” The payoff came last weekend in a 60 that features Terry Tate “ a fictional overzealous office worker who is dedicated to righting the wrongs of inconsiderate co-workers,” according to Reebok’s agency, the Arnell Group/New York. Let’s just say that those jerks who jam the copiers better wear protective gear if Terry is in the house.

Executive producer Bryan Rheude worked extensively with Comma’s producer/composer Justin Hori and creative collaborators Pete Schmidt and Larry Pecorella in the Chicago studio. then bounced materials back and forth with producer David Hutten in Comma’s Santa Monica branch. Hutten worked closely with the West Coast team that posted the Reebok campaign at nearby Swietlik edit house.
The teaser features a kind of eerie, static-laden track with titles that list Terry Tate’s stats, and then a fast montage of images from the very defense- minded office tackle.

The 60-second Super Bowl spot contrasts of the musical underscore for the on-screen company CEO, who is very prim, proper and professional, represented with classical tones, to Terry, who bursts onscreen with hard-hittin’, hip-hop-tinged funk. Sound design also included foley work, creating sounds of snapping, banging and crunching as well as ambient sound from more traditional office sources like copiers, filing, and fax machines.
The spot also has an action prompt to send viewers to a special Reebok Web site where longer-length, short-form Tate pieces may follow.
For more info, check out: Contact: Email: Phone: 312/642-5117

SIZE MATTERS. Deaf Dog’s John Ovnik is no fool. He knows it’s both the equipment, and what you do with it that counts.
Ovnik recently purchased a prized 64-input Focusrite mixing console as the centerpiece of his control room arsenal. One of only eight worldwide, the board retailed for nearly $250,000 used and comes on the heels of Deaf Dog’s acquisition last fall of the largest Pro-Tools HD set-up in the country. Ovnik had to add nine 20 amp electrical circuits to the studio’s machine room just to juice up the board for its first run.

“We are committed to this space for the long haul,” Ovnik says. & #8220;With the recent additions, Deaf Dog is one of the most advanced and desirable scoring, tracking and mixing rooms in the U.S. for everything from records to movies to spots.”

The studio’s had a few other additions over the holidays. In December Deaf Dog built an isolation room to house its mammoth 7.5-foot Yamaha grand piano, and the New Year brought a new hire in the form of executive producer Doug Banich, who will help with studio management and scheduling logistics.
In the past two weeks, Ovnik and company seemed to have cornered the market on McDonald’s jobs: A four-spot package for DDB, three urban market commercials for Burrell, and one Latino TV market piece for jndeo.
For more info, check out: Contact: Email: Phone: 312/944-4870

NOT PLAYING AROUND. When you score A-list video games for a living, work often feels like play. So it’s no wonder that even when GameBeat’s Darryl Duncan is goofing around on vacation, his mind naturally jumps back to work.

Last summer, Duncan took his family to the Kalahari Resort hotel in Wisconsin Dells. He found everything you could want in a luxurious African-themed resort, even an indoor water park with a high-speed funnel slide. The one thing that he found lacking was a commercial theme for the Kalahari that really expressed its identity. The management had run television and radio ads, but they leaned more toward function, toward information. Darryl saw more and convinced the client to think differently about their marketing campaign.

“What I wanted from the start was to create something that that had the power and majesty to go with the dramatic visuals of the resort,” Duncan notes. “I wanted something with strong lyrics and a score with distinct African musical roots musically, but still have pop overtones that were easily identifiable and palatable to the average listener.”

The theme, with hints of Elton John’s “Lion King” score, will be featured in a regional multi-spot TV and radio ad campaign throughout the year. This is just one of the projects in which Duncan hopes to stretch beyond impressive work in video games (with credits that include top titles for Sega, MicroSoft and PlayStation) into ad music, TV and film scoring.

For more info, check out: Contact: Email: Phone: 708/283-8860.

MOSAIC’S ON THE MOVE. Rich Rankin’s Mosaic Music moved into new digs late last year in the former space of Engine Studios that continue to run two nearby music rooms. Rankin says the Bucktown area space features a 16’x22 live room for recording rhythm sections, string groups, brass, various overdubs and vocals.

Mosaic’s Rich Rankin

After weeks of labor-intensive weeks of wiring, reinforcement, and installation of new gear, Mosaic christened their new space with a CD session featuring the dulcet half-tones and ethnic stylings of Indian music vocalist Sudha Raghuraman, who records in her native country for legend Ravi Shankar.
On the marketing front, Mosaic has signed on with Chicago rep Allison Gerlach for exclusive representation. Among others, Gerlach carries Rivet Media, and Zacuto Films.

For more info, check out: Contact: Email: Phone: 773/252-6979

ONE FINAL NOTE: Please Email all the latest and greatest info about your creative music projects to me at Or give me a ring @ 312/933-5661 to leave a message about projects or news of note. Until next time, keep on rocking those spots.— Dan Page