Following up on the interview Rye Randa Discusses Shaun White's Don't Look Down published last week in BC Magazine, here's the latest breaking news. I received an email on January 9, 2009, in which Rye Randa followed through with his promise to let me know as soon as he had a release date for the soundtrack. He gave me the news that January 20, 2009 is the official date for the independent soundtrack release of Don't Look Down.
For those of you who missed the original interview (shame on you), here's a brief synopsis of what we learned:
The score for the documentary film is an independent effort from Rye Randa, Michael Johns, and Jeff Foxworth collectively. All three men are singers/songwriters and musicians. The soundtrack is on the (Three Rings Projects) TRP Records label, and was produced by Foxworth, Johns, and Randa. Distribution for the album is being done through Fontana.
The CD contains seventeen songs in total, eleven having vocal performances, and the rest exceptional instrumentals that range from acoustic, to electronic technical genius, and then stretch all boundaries into soul thumping rock.
Michael Johns (American Idol Finalist Season 7) does vocals on ten of the songs, and Rye Randa sings "View From Up Here", the closing song for the ESPN Shaun White documentary film Don't Look Down. Jeff Foxworth puts his signature style of playing guitar on the tracks, and sings backup harmonies on some selections.
News of the soundtrack quickly traveled through blogs such as Love Me Two Times, and then stretched into forums like IDF and Michael Johns Fan Site before spanning the entire Internet with headline news of the story. Since the interview was first published here at blogcritics.org on January 6, there have been almost daily updates surfacing through news as it happens reports.
It seems the more we find out about the soundtrack, the more we want to know. Here's what I've learned since news of the DVD release was published last week.
In a forum post made by BlueMonday on January 7th, Don’t Look Down was listed on the X-Dance roster and scheduled to be shown at the festival on January 18. This news fueled speculation that Rye, Michael, and Jeff might make an appearance at the event to perform songs from the soundtrack.
The next day, an ESPN news release entered the forum with credit going to BlueMonday for the exceptional find and posting the press release at Micheal Johns' message boards. Details within that article informed us there are three video-highlight reels on the DVD.
On January 9, I got the official release date in an email from Rye Randa, and took the announcement to the aforementioned blog and forums. News that good can't wait to be shared amongst fans that frequent those sites daily in search of any tidbit of information we can find about future music releases.
Within just a few hours of that announcement, the song list and link to Amazon.com was posted at Michael Johns' message boards by MaJa K, who'd gotten the link from OregonMJFan. As you can see, news travels at light speed amongst the fans and fan sites. By January 12, news had spread to mjsbigblog and American Idol forums too.
For answers to the latest round of inquiries caused by the newly surfacing stories, I went back to my original source to find out the details. Although Rye has always been courteous in his responses, I'll have to admit I was a bit reluctant in sending questions again this soon after his last interview. I jokingly reminded him that he'd put the phrase 'Talk soon' in one of his email responses, and then sent him the questions anyway.
Rye in his usual prompt and gracious manner responded within a couple of hours to my note. The man continues to impress me with his complete dedication to courtesy and professionalism. He replied, "No problem. Happy to oblige."
When I asked if the soundtrack will also be released in hard copy, in addition to the digital downloads on Amazon.com and on iTunes, he responded, "Yes, hard copy via Amazon, and digitally through iTunes and most all digital outlets."
I told him about the ESPN news release that announced the three music video highlight reels on the DVD. Then I asked if he, Michael, and Jeff were in the videos at all, or if they planned to make any videos for the songs.
He said, "There have not been any videos produced with Michael, Jeff or myself. If there are any video "reels" on the DVD, they are most likely just clips of Shaun put to our music."
My final question to him was whether or not the January 18 appearance at the X-Dance had been confirmed.
His answer was, "No, not yet. But at this point, given the time frame, it will be difficult to pull off."
I finished the email, laughing as I gave him a word of advice at the end. I told him writers tend to take words like "Talk soon" literally.
Now, a bit more about the soundtrack and music itself. This album contains numerous songs that are single worthy in quality, and could easily stand on their own. It's an album I'd buy if I heard the songs on the radio instead of hearing them with the film.
I wouldn't associate most of the music with a sports documentary if I'd heard them separately first. They're not the typical soundtrack tunes that you might expect on a film made about an Olympic snowboarding champion. However, with that being said, when you listen to the music while watching the DVD, the songs fit the ever changing moods of the film perfectly.
If you haven't heard any of the tunes yet, you can listen to sample tracks of all seventeen songs by clicking on the Amazon album below and judge the songs yourself. I can tell you already this will be one of my all time favorite albums just from the pieces I've heard so far.
The album has a soulful southern rock vibe on several tracks that will quicken your pulse with a throbbing beat and will rock you to your core. Other songs are mystical and airy, reminding the listener of the heights reached both in the mountainous elevations of the X-Games, and the breathless concentration of an athlete who was striving to attain competitive perfection.
There are acoustic instrumentals that showcase the talent and genius of the musicians who so easily change directions with sounds that range from heart pounding excitement to flowing smoothly into softer moods and philosophical reflections. "River Of Life" which was first done for a documentary titled Ithuteng is included on the soundtrack as well.
Here's an excerpt from a previous interview with Rye that gives the background of this most special song. In the piece Rye Randa – Musician Extraordinaire done for BC Magazine back in October of 2008, Rye explains how he and Michael Johns created the song. This was the question.
It is also rumored that you helped Michael Johns with the "River Of Life" project. Are there any details that you would like to share about that collaboration?
Yes, I produced, engineered and played bass on that song. We recorded it for a documentary film called Ithuteng about the South-African Ithuteng Trust School for young teens that have basically been failed by the system in the post-Apartheid region of Soweto. One of the students, Lebo Kgasapane (the singer on "River of Life") passed from AIDS before the film was completed. We literally built the song around a short audio clip of Lebo that was recorded during the filming process (this is the actual voice you hear in the song). It was quite a touching experience for all of us. It was also a really wonderful experience to record the Dorsey High School Choir at Hollywood Sound. Those kids are very talented.
That song along with the experience they gained by scoring music for documentaries might be the subject of a future article. There is one thing I can tell you for certain where this reporter is concerned. As long as these three men continue making music, I'll keep reporting the news of it to you. The next major event I'm aware of is Michael Johns single release in February, and debut album release, which is reported to be in March. You'll get that news just as soon as I have the official release dates and titles for the much anticipated and long awaited music.
There will be those of you whose primary interest in Don't Look Down will be the X-Games and behind the scenes look at Shaun White's story. I would suggest you should purchase the DVD. However, keep in mind you won't be getting the full versions of the music or the five additional bonus tracks that are included on the soundtrack.
For those of you who simply must have exceptional music in your collection, this soundtrack has everything that you've been looking for and more. Please keep in mind when you order, that the hard copy is only available through Amazon.com. All other outlets will be offering digital downloads only. And lastly, for those of you who are both avid sports and music fans like me, you'll find a way to buy the soundtrack and the DVD just because you can't stand the thought of not having them both.
Now you have the full story that goes along with the Don't Look Down soundtrack. That is, you have the full story barring of course, further questions from forum members. I'll be back with any other news or announcements the three artists might have hidden in the wings.
Now if I could just talk the guys into doing a few videos to go along with the songs, my Don't Look Down mission would be complete.
Until next time, enjoy the soundtrack and DVD.