Five Questions: Damian Wagner, Co-founder, KickStand
KickStand, the new audio studio founded by Damian Wagner and Kim Christensen in Venice, CA, specializes in advertising, TV and film, but has the chops to handle unconventional projects, too — Wagner's résumé includes a number of collaborations with contemporary artist Doug Aitken, including the Sleepwalkers outdoor installation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, as well as the recent live performance piece DOM, staged in Brasilia, Brazil, which featured traditional musical instruments, laptops and iPhones amplified through a custom quadrophonic sound system. His client list also includes Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Puma, and Gucci. We asked him five questions and got him talking about what he's watching, what he's listening to, and how the latest OK Go music video (the one with the Chevy Sonic) came together.
What are you working on today?
I’m scoring for a film project with director Carlos Baena, from Pixar.
What is the best tool or innovation you've found in the last year?
A recent modification to a synthesizer I made has come in handy on a few spots recently. I like the Euphonix (Avid) Artist Mix control surface. And Thunderbolt!!!
What project (film, television, commercial or music video) most impressed you in the last year? Why?
I just watched the Tintin movie and the score is amazing. The Wim Wenders Pina Bausch film [Pina] was a little long and hard to watch but I found that it made me think about it for a few days after. It’s a creeper. I really like MIA's “Bad Girls” video. The way they used sound was great and it looks sick. Great song. And Sanji’s David Guetta/Nikki Minaj video I did the sound design for looks fantastic.
What's the best, or your favorite, project that you worked on in the past year? And why?
The OK GO "Needing Getting" music video. First, it was extremely challenging and kept growing as the piece went on. The sheer number of tracks and sound files was mind-blowing — 1000 tracks and more than 20,000 sound files, mostly placed by hand.
First, the band composed the song with simple samples to a grid, and not locked to any picture. We then took the tracks from the song and pulled them apart, first locking it to the cut then sliding the samples to hit or sync with picture. Additional layers of five or six musical tones were added, then another four or five tracks of Foley or sound design per hit. Then we added the car, wind, tires, dirt, plastic tubes, etc.. The only way to really get through the piece was to mix the music and sound design in sections and then bounce those into a master session for final mix. With that said, it was so much fun!!! The attention to detail was beyond mad, ha ha. But that’s what this piece needed in order to work.
Name the top 4 artists on your iPod.
I usually get stuck on tracks. Here’s what’s on heavy rotation at the moment:
Killing Joke “Love Like Blood”
The Kills “Future Starts Slow”
Gotye “Easy Way Out”
For more on KickStand, visit kickstand.la.