William Ryan Fritch: Notes from the Waiting Room

wrfritch2013Composer William Ryan Fritch is a gifted multi-instrumentalist from the Bay Area best known for imaginative work in Vieo Abiungo as well as his participation in the band Sole And The Skyrider.  A constant creative force, Fritch recently composed the soundtrack for a documentary entitled The Waiting Room, a stunning account on life in the ER at an Oakland, CA hospital.  Now being released through the folks at Lost Tribe Sound, the music found within The Waiting Room is haunting and innovative.  Here is a recent interview we conducted with William Ryan Fritch – join us as we compare our notes on The Waiting Room, Vieo Abiungo, Sole And The Skyrider, and other sweeping topics of interest…

How did you become involved with The Waiting Room documentary?
Pete Nicks (the director) was a UC Berkeley graduate and often hired other film maker alumni from the journalism program there. In this case N’jeri Eaton and Patrick Kollman were both film makers I had composed for previously and they put in a good word for me after several other composers were fired from the job.

For those who are not familiar with it, what is the film The Waiting Room about?
The Waiting Room is an extremely powerful, transparent and real documentary feature that follows patients, healthcare providers, and various doctors in Highland hospital’ emergency room in Oakland, CA. It is very effective at conveying the fragile state of healthcare in this country without succumbing to manipulative, heavy handed film making. Obviously I am biased, but I would say it is an essential, must see piece of journalism and film making.

How was it to work with Peter Nicks and what did you think when you saw the completed movie?
Pete Nicks and his entire team were delightful to work with. They were so committed to this film, it’s message, and to the community the film portrayed. Really inspiring seeing the dedication and artful restraint Pete has. Working with him was a very life and career affirming process.

thewaitingroom1How did composing for a film compare to composing your own work such as Vieo Abiungo?
Composing for film is certainly the easier, more natural process for me. It is my day and night job. Composing for a stand-alone record is similarly an organic, everyday, workman-like process in terms of writing…. but finishing a solo record is an entirely different story. Film scores generally operate around very tight time restraints and there are parameters set that help prevent me from over-thinking the mixing process, which is always the most time expensive and painstaking component for me. Though I think as I continue to make more records it will become easier and easier to let the vision of an album guide me and focus me the way visual media does.

What is up next for Vieo Abiungo? Will there be any more music this year?
You better believe there is more music coming!!! Last year was a year full of film score work and unfortunately not having the time to finish the albums I aspired to release. However, this year is going to be chock full of new music. After The Waiting Room OST Lost Tribe Sound will be releasing an EP of some heavy, heavy new songs later this summer, then in August an LP – Leave Me Like You Found Me -(based around the score I did for Adele Romanski’s feature film of the same title), and this winter putting out the LP – Built Upon a Fearful Void. I am also hard at work on mixing a serious, semi-orchestral collaborative album with Jon Mueller that we have had in the works for over a year. In terms of Vieo Abiungo releases I don’t think I will release anything under that Moniker until summer next year when I can put together just the right technicolor, psychedelic experience I want.

How often do you perform live as Vieo Abiungo and what are the shows like?
I rarely, if ever perform. I want to change this soon though, as it has been a monkey on my back for several years now. At this point in my career I have to be recording and composing constantly to support myself, so the idea of slogging out a tour with no guarantees of return does not really sound the least bit enticing. However, I want to get to a point later this fall where I can dedicate a month or so to putting together a really well-constructed live set so that I can feel as fluent in a live setting as I do in my studio. I think some of the material on these upcoming releases is much more suited for live representation. I will keep you posted for sure…….

Why do you think Thunder May Have Ruined The Moment? What moment was ruined?
You would have to ask Pete Monro (the film maker for Thunder…). It was built around something he wrote preparing to put together this video project. I like to think of it as a still moment in this rapidly turning world. Not necessarily ruining anything, but the idea of the thunder being an imposing force that it eclipses all other trivialities and trajectories we were occupied with prior. Something earthly and powerful that is unifying in it’s aftermath.

Will you be doing any other work with film maker Pete Monro?
I will always work with Pete. He has been hard at work on his next script, and it is going to be amazing. He really shines as a writer and narrative film maker. The video project we did was fun and challenging, but he really has a serious future as a great director and film maker. He portrays everyday struggles and human interaction in a very compelling way. His film Days Together was terrific and could be a case study for young artist disillusionment. His next film is going to be sublime.

Can you play The Kaliedoscope EP live note per note? And how easy or difficult was it to compose and record a composition that lengthy and what is the inspiration behind the piece?
No way. I mean I could go through the hundreds of tracks and play each part individually after a serious refresher course, but the parts are like wet clay to a sculpture rather than a wheel/axle/spoke kind of relationship. I had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted the piece to develop and flow, but the orchestration was very impressionistic. There are several hundred hours of recording time on that project alone, and it feels like I have lived three lifetimes since finishing that recording this last fall. My close friend Jessy Kennedy who is a pretty radical designer and visual artist asked very casually if I would put together a long form piece that was around 30 minutes for a kaleidoscope installation at the Art Basel in South Beach. I just kind of went ape shit on it and had a lot of fun putting together a project that could be a bit more raw and slow-evolving than my previous works. So I guess time wise it was very taxing doing all those overdubs, but I was definitely more easy going with the mixing process I usually am.

How long did it take to film and edit the video for Our Racing Hearts and who was involved in the create process?
We had very very little time. Mario Furloni and Kate McClean, who I had worked with several times before, shot the video in less than two days and had edited it in about a week and a half. They are both really great documentary film makers, and they did me a huge favor by putting that together so quickly under such short notice. All the while I was moving out of that studio, and didn’t sleep the next two nights after shooting in order to pack everything up to move. It was a crazy week.

Are you still involved with Sole And The Skyrider Band or any other musical projects?
I work with all three members frequently. I sang and played on several tracks off of Sole’s two new solo albums, and am currently working on an album with Bud (SkyRider) that is going to be a companion album to Built upon a Fearful Void. They are all my closest friends, but we were just not making any money touring together and it wasn’t feasible to continue working that way.

What has it been like working with Sole And The Skyrider band and performing with them live?
I would not be the artist I am or the person I am without having those guys in my life. Tim (Sole) taught me what it was to be a self-suffiient musician and what kind of work ethic it takes to survive as a solo artist in this day in age. He, and Bud also toughened me up in a way that was really good for my development. I have a tendency to be to quick to please and say yes to everything…..a push-over in a sense. They are both rather uncompromising when it comes to things that are important to them. I have thankfully become more like that as well.

Any final commentary to conclude our second interview?
Thank you!!!

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

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