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The Doghouse NYC

Case Study: composing music for a commercial.

Case Study

Dracula Surf Guitar
by Lauren Jonik

Like an actor stepping into character, musicians sometimes rely upon theatrics to tell their stories. Case in point, Mark Marshall's recent work on Vanessa Bley's single, The Girl Not the Moon. Bley had originally recorded GNTM, sans guitar, But when he joined Vanessa's lineup in May of 2008 for a show at Pianos, Mark found himself crafting a new part for the song. From the get-go, Mark had a clear and focused direction. "GNTM was begging for a "surf" part-" he laughs, "Of course, I am by no means compelled to add a guitar just for the sake of adding guitar, but I really felt like it could use something a bit twisted".

The new part resonated so strongly with Bley that several days later she brought her original masters into The Doghouse NYC, (where Mark is a session musician, producer, and engineer) to record the "missing" surf guitar. Here, in the creative isolation of the studio, the real theatrics began.

Free from distraction, the two found themselves channeling an absurd musical character.

Says Bley, "The only way to really communicate it was to sing while Mark played. But I couldn't just sing it. I had to sing it like an operatic Dracula confessing his love --or trying to woo someone. It was one of those ridiculously silly moments I'm sure I'll remember whenever I think back to that session".

But but both agree that everything just fell into place that day. Bley describes the guitar part as having "a surf/pulp fiction vibe, like an old man and a 15-year-old runaway in a Cadillac convertible cruising to Mexico at sunset."

"Ultimately, this is the kind of process I find most satisfying", says Mark. "Imagery is really important. The notes are kind of secondary in the sense that they don't require a lot of description. The approach to those notes is a different story. Subtle changes make a huge difference."


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