NYACK, NY – Flavorlab (www.flavorlab.com) is an audio production company that composes, records, mixes and masters music and sound for brands across the world. The studio created the theme song for ABC’s iconic talk show, The View, as well as for Fox’s celebrity interview show,
Megyn Kelly Presents. Polo Ralph Lauren also recruited the studio to mix their recent Olympics spot, and HBO’s
Vice uses their Producer’s Toolbox and licensing services for its show music.
Recently, Flavorlab contributed to Disney+’s Turning The Tables with Robin Roberts. Here, Flavorlab’s Erik Blicker and Glenn Schloss talk a little about the studio and their recent work.
Tell us a bit about Flavorlab's background.
Erik Blicker: “Flavorlab is a full service music and audio post production company offering original music composition through Flavorlab Score, full audio post services through Flavorlab Sound, and music licensing and supervision through Producer’s Toolbox. We collaborate with directors, executive producers, and showrunners taking their projects’ sound from start to finish. Flavorlab was founded in 2004, alongside our partner Brian Quill. Since, Flavorlab Score has written for a wide range of projects, including iconic ABC talk show, The View, ESPN's SportsCenter, and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.
“Last year, we were tapped to provide a score for HBO Films’ feature Wildcard: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth. Some recent collaborations with our sound and Producer’s Toolbox divisions include Turning The Tables and music for the NBA's 2020 Restart promo campaign.
“Flavorlab Sound has provided mix for VH1's Wild 'N Out for over a decade and is currently mixing their 16th season. [We] maintain long-held partnerships in film and advertising with companies like Synthetic Cinema International, providing audio post for Hallmark films, and Polo Ralph Lauren. One recent highlight includes mixing 2021 Oscar nominee, Do Not Split, for Field of Vision and director Anders Hammer. Through Producer's Toolbox, our music tracks can be heard on series' such as MTV's Catfish: The TV Show, NFL on CBS, and for brands that include Chipotle, Veronica Beard, Callaway and Laura Mercier, among others.”
How did you get involved with Disney+’s Turning The Tables with Robin Roberts?
Glenn Schloss: “The EP & showrunner for Turning The Tables, Kadine Anckle, brought us onto the project. We've worked with Kadine in the past, most notably on Vice's Most Expensivest, and we have a wonderful creative partnership.”
What were the audio needs for this project?
Blicker: “We were tasked with scoring an original theme, show package, and providing audio mix to Disney specs. Kadine wanted a theme as iconic as the women featured in the series and asked that each episode have its own unique variation, while still feeling familiar. It was important the music go on a journey from sensitivity to power, like so many of the stories these women shared.
“The first thing we wrote were these spiritual, lifting melodies. They needed to highlight how interconnected we all are and, as it’s a show about empowerment and vulnerability, the singer needed to reflect those feelings. We auditioned four singers and Disney chose Mai-Elka Prado. Beneath those melodies, it was important to create a warm, introspective bed. The nylon guitars and hand percussion gave it a very universal, human sound and provided a lot of that warmth. Kadine wasn't looking for your usual theme song, which might include some catchy lyrics, so a big part of creating the final product was working through melodies with Mai-Elka and weaving her vocalizations into that bed.”
What gear do you use for a project like this?
Schloss: “To achieve that warm nylon guitar bed, we used a Godin Multiac nylon guitar, recorded into a Heritage Neve JR73 preamp, then into a Chandler RS-124 Abbey Road compressor. We doubled that with an alternate guitar sound through the Neve 1073 into a distressor and routed this into ProTools via Lynx Aurora (n) A/D. In ProTools, we used Bricasti hardware reverbs via an AES/EBU connection. To remove noise from Mai-Elka's recordings, we used Izotope's Spectral Denoise.
“From a drumming perspective, we really wanted to keep things organic, so we intentionally stayed away from using any pre-recorded samples. All of the percussion was recorded through a Neumann U87 Mic into an API 512 preamp into ProTools. We recorded lots of shakers, rain sticks and hand claps, and eventually we narrowed down a few passes to compliment the nylon guitar parts.”
Did this project present any unique challenges?
Blicker: “Before we played our contemplative, lifting melodies to the team, the creative direction changed. The show wanted to try a more modern pop sound, more typical of a talk show, before ultimately deciding to switch back to the spiritually-connected, acoustic concept. Most of our clients appreciate our patience. We just love making music and collaborating under a deadline.
“Kadine’s strong creative vision and ability to let process play out made the transition back and forth a lot easier. When I was writing the melody, I was thinking of all the strong women in my life, like my wife and my mother. We had all those melodies in our back pocket even after the change. I remember being very nervous sending it to her because it was just my voice in falsetto singing these melodies. I thought, ‘Just listen to the melody. Don’t listen to my voice.’ It was pretty great that Kadine had the ability to hear past it and say, ‘Oh that’s the melody. Yeah I can hear Mai-Elka do that,’ and trust that direction would come together.”
Schloss: “With the pandemic, we’ve been doing a lot of remote recording, so we weren’t terribly concerned on that front, but we’d never worked with Mai-Elka before, so there was a lot of trust there as well. On one hand, we couldn’t be in the same room, hanging out and listening to things, building that vibe and chemistry on the other side of the glass. On the other hand, I’ve found sometimes it’s even more efficient and constructive to not be together. We can have that initial creative conversation and then each person can take the ball and run with it. Everyone has an opportunity to breathe and work on some passes without any interference. Then we can come together, go back and forth before taking it to Kadine, and kind of manicure it. Mai-Elka made it easy for us and nailed it early on, but still, there was that fear of the unknown.
“More logistical challenges came before the singer was chosen and the theme was approved. Having a voice as the main feature of the score was really important, so we had to make sure each person demo’ing for us sounded their best. Erik called the singers up to determine their optimal key over the phone with a piano. Then he transposed the cue for each singer to best showcase the different voices singing the theme we wrote. When Mai-Elka was selected, because of the pandemic, she had to get it done from home. She put together a set-up in her apartment, recording under a blanket in her kitchen. She got these nice, resonant takes of her voice, but had some radiator hum in the background, so we used the Izotope Spectral Denoise to clean up her vocal tracks.”
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