Pete and I are super proud to have been awarded a special Tony Award for the sound design of The Encounter. This is particularly special because the Tony Awards axed the annual sound design awards back in 2014, saying they would only award one for sound in exceptional circumstances. Alongside our award the Tony Awards announced that they would be resuming awarding regular awards for sound design from next year, which is super news.
I'm super proud to be involved with this production, which opens today at the National Theatre. It doesn't use (or need) lots of sound, but it's an awesome play by Inua Ellams, performed by a brilliant ensemble and directed superbly by Bijan Sheibani.
UPDATE: Barbershop will be returning to the National Theatre this Christmas, before embarking on a world tour.
Pete Malkin and I were very fortunate to receive another award for the sound design of The Encounter. Pete was otherwise engaged on this occasion.
Tonight we opened Woyzeck, in a new adaptation by Jack Thorne, at the Old Vic Theatre. It stars John Boyega (Star Wars), with music by Isobel Waller-Bridger and is directed by Joe Murphy.
"Murphy's production follows Woyzeck's descent into drug-addled madness, unravelling from normality into chaos, with a claustrophobic set of sliding padded panels by Tom Scutt, an explosive sound-scape by Gareth Fry and a resonant score from Isobel Waller-Bridge." The Stage
"The staging is quite beautiful, a series of insulated walls – one even has meat seeping out – float in from above and glide in and out of the wings, while patches of light illuminate areas of the stage in regimented order. At times the cast seem to appear out of nowhere and this is even before we admire Ben Hart’s subtle illusion. The walls move in waves with a pulsating rhythm, matching Gareth Fry’s impressively oppressive sound design" Theatre Weekly
I’ve been working with Ollie Lindsey/All Seeing Eye again, this time at the NT Immersive Storytelling Studio, to create the sound design for Draw Me Close: a scene from a new play by Jordan Tannahill, looking at the relationship between a mother and her son in the wake of her terminal-cancer diagnosis. This is a super interesting VR and live theatre project, involving a mix of cutting edge HTC Vive tracker technologies, some really cool animation and actress Tamsin Griffin.
Another great night out. I was very fortunate to be awarded a third Olivier Award, for Best Sound Design on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
I took part in an interview with Digital Theatre, talking about getting into sound design, my process and experiences. You can view it here:
I’ve just finished making this short film with writer/director Nathaniel Martello-White, produced by Air Street Films, Creative England and the BBC.
The film stars Joel Fry (W1A. Game of Thrones, Trollied) and takes a dark look at gentrification.
Goldcrest very kindly provided their facilities so we could ADR and mix the film there, with Jamie Roden doing a lovely job of the mix.
Cla’am will premiere at the SXSW film festival
UPDATE: Cla’am won the Best Short Film award at the Raindance Festival
Last night I was very honoured to receive the Evening Standard Best Design award for the sound design of Complicite's The Encounter.
We only had 45 seconds to thank everyone, but Pete Malkin and I have spent many years developing this show alongside some incredible people. It would be impossible to name all of the people who have contributed to the show but I'm going to try... So much credit is due to Simon McBurney with whom I've been working since 1999, whose ideas and inspirations have formed the heart of this show. So much of this show has come out of his work with co-director Kirsty Housley and associate director Jemima James. Traditional theatre job descriptions and titles fail to recognise the collaborative process that devised shows often are. This show was made by all of us being in a room contributing and playing with ideas. We've had an amazing sound team: Helen Skiera and Ella Wahlstrom who have mixed the show for the last 18 months through workshops, rehearsals and performances, expertly responding to Simon's nuances and improvisations, Guy Coletta and David Gregory who have marshalled the show into an efficient, reliable touring entity, Ben Grant and Amir Sherhan who have taken up the reins as operators for Broadway, Andrew Kirkby and Joshua Robbins who marshalled the headphones into life in the early inceptions of the show, and many more who've helped make, install or reset hundreds of pairs of headphones every day, in Edinburgh, in London, in New York and across Europe! Caroline and Jo, and now Adam, the Stage Management team who've dealt with the chaos and craziness of running a show where there is no script. Then there is Judith Dimant, Poppy Keeling and the amazing team at Complicite who expertly nurtured an experimental idea into the success it has become. Production manager Niall Black who made so much of it actually happen. Sennheiser who gave us a lot of headphones! Christer Lundahl and Martina Seitl who introduced us to, and lent us their binaural head for the early workshops. AMS Acoustics who lent us their binaural head for another of the workshops. The Mayoruna who guided us through the Amazon Rainforest for several days as we recorded sounds, with the expert guidance of Paul Heritage and logistical coordination of Chloe Courtney. Synergy Aviation and Fairoaks Airport who flew me around in a Cessna and let me sit on their runway and record planes flying overhead! The London School and Hospital of Tropical Medicine who let me record their mosquito colonies. The twenty odd volunteers who came to Epping Forest to run around, dance and get bitten by mosquitos. Christina Cunningham who helped me develop seat belts to attach headphones to seats and got together a team to make 800 of them! There were many other Complicite regulars who fed in ideas and thoughts, and many contributors who we interviewed, whose taste and thoughts wove into the show. Almost last but not least, Pete Malkin who has been an exceptional associate on many shows over the last 6 years, but whose input to this show, both creatively and as a collaborator rose above and beyond and who is an exceptional talent.
None of this would've been possible without the support of my wife Laura, who juggled two small children as I went into the unknowns of the Amazon Rainforest, and provided support and love for the unknowns of all the other times.
Here are some photos from the past 6 years
I recorded and produced sound for this Synergy Sponsorship project for Bose, working with Unit9. The project involved recording the Mercedes F1 garage over the course of the British Grand Prix, utilising multiple ambisonic microphones and spot mics, to generate a virtual reality version of the garage a user could explore.
New York Times - Ben Brantley [Full review]
"Mr. McBurney and his ace sound designers, Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, have created an aural labyrinth of many layers. You’ll be watching Mr. McBurney’s lips moving in sync with what you’re hearing, only to discover that it’s just a recorded voice you’ve been listening to.
Did I say “just a recorded voice”? It’s a mistake to give undue value to what’s “real” over what’s a simulacrum of reality. With your earphones on, there’s no distinguishing between the live and the prerecorded, a blurring that allows Mr. McBurney to conduct very immediate-feeling conversations with his past selves."
Hollywood Reporter - David Rooney [Full review]
"the production's most astonishing artistry is the infinitely layered enveloping world conjured by sound designers Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin. Close your eyes and you might find yourself reaching for bug spray."
Variety - Matt Trueman [Full Review]
"Gareth Fry’s design piles up layers of sounds — recorded interviews, foley effects, a soundscape of McBurney’s home study. The effect is a soundcloud of a process, in which fact and fiction, past and present, research and production intermingle, spinning a story out of the air."
Talkin' Broadway - Matthew Murray [Full Review]
"the astonishing sound design by Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin ... play games with time, space, and thought you probably never thought possible. Echoes repeat and sustain themselves into infinity. Seemingly random noises layer into gorgeous but chilling tapestries outlining entire ecosystems. The British McBurney, simply by angling his head, can conjure an electronic American voice that rings utterly natural. Words transform into memory, which in turn become a wholly different reality, which is itself then subject to McBurney's tiniest whims. And if he wants you to become hot, cold, or despairing, or to escort you to the brink of death, he'll stand in exactly the right place and unleash his utterance in just the right way to ensure you're helpless in his hands. It really is all this precise. Perhaps the most arresting facet of this towering accomplishment is that it all feels as though it's been created just for you. Delivered as it is through a headset you're provided upon taking your seat, the soundscape is intensely intimate, which only makes the shivers cut deeper."
Time Out - David Cote [Full Review]
"Part mystic thriller, part tricksy aural illusion, The Encounter offers a meeting of ear, mind and soul you will never forget."
The Guardian - Alexis Soloski [Full Review]
"a triumph of binaural recording"
Exeunt - Nicole Serratore [Full Review]
" the show is heavily reliant on binaural sound to create a sonically immersive environment (the incredibly complex sound design by Gareth Fry and Peter Malkin is a great reason to resuscitate the now-defunct Sound Design Tony award). With the headphones, we have no distance from the events because the show is happening inside our heads. With the intimate power of sound, we give over entirely to what we hear, even if we know it is not real. We’ve been told that’s not an actual recording of a buzzing mosquito and when we hear it later as part of the artificial cacophony of jungle sounds we do not stop and question it."
The Village Voice - Miriam Felton-Dansky [Full Review]
"With sound designers Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, McBurney transforms our own relationship to reality, space, and perception through the constantly shifting sounds in our headphones. "
Epoch Times - Judd Hollander [Full Review]
"The other star of the performance is the sound design. McBurney himself acknowledges the considerable efforts of his sound design team, led by Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin—all of whom deserve the praise they have received."
Theatre is Easy - Ran Xia [Full Review]
" McBurney, with the help of sound designers Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, has turned the performance into a synesthesia-inducing, orgasmic auditory experience, "
I've visited Glastonbury twice to record the sounds and interviews to create the soundtrack for this exhibition. Both times it was very wet and very muddy. I only took one coat with me so Fritz took priority when it rained...
The exhibition is open now until Feb 26th 2017 in the Theatre & Performance gallery.
Pretty exciting this, myself and fellow sound designer Mic Pool have been selected to be “prescribes practioners” for the AQA GCSE and AS-level Drama and Theatre syllabus. Which means people will be studying us!
Binaural recording and mixing for Volvo and M-is
Here's the trailer for Boy (at the Almeida) which I made the soundtrack for...