History

From our founding in 1983, Earwax Productions has charted a singular course across the sonic landscape. The team’s expansive approach has included art installations and innovation in the craft of storytelling through sound, music and interview. At the same time, Earwax has established a praise-worthy reputation in the fields of commercial and radio sound design, sound for feature films and documentaries, and iconic sound effects for some of the world’s most respected brands.

Audiographs: Explorations into music, sound and storytelling

The term Audiograph, created by Markos Kounalakis, was used to describe a form of music and interview that became a signature style of many original radio productions created by Earwax in the late eighties and early nineties. Songs From The Tenderloin, Metal, Wake for Tom and Virtual Paradise are a few from this creative period.

Songs from the Tenderloin

(1987) Barney Jones, Markos Kounalakis, and Jim McKee. Condensed and dramatized portraits of people living on the streets of San Francisco. Recorded interviews form the basis of this work, but interviews set in alternating environments: in the street and within a musical score. In the music, the edited and repeated voices become part of the rhythm: recurring beats that intensify the toughness and tenderness of the people’s reflections— the pain, humor, and ethics that govern their lives. Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.

Metal or Views from the Karamazov Vista

Soon after the broadcast of Songs From the Tenderloin, New American Radio commissioned Earwax to produce a second Audiograph, this time about Heavy Metal. By the late eighties, our facilities located inside the infamous Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco was packed with Heavy Metal musicians, The Blue Öyster Cult, as well as producer extraordinaire Sandy Perlman. Interviews with Sandy, members of Exodus and field recordings from church parking lots to mosh pits help to form this work. From New American Radio (1989) Jim McKee with Andy Newell. A curious, sympathetic glimpse into the heavy metal music industry and its social environment: the music, the artists, the producers, the fans, the parents, the opposition. Meet Sandy Pearlman who coined the term Heavy Metal. Listen to bands like “Exodus” and musicians like Joe Satriani. Hear what Debbie Abonos, at sixty-four the oldest female roady in the business, has to say. Never mind you don’t like the music and you’re strictly anti-violence, anti-Satanic cult, anti-Nazi cult. Metal offers some unexpected observations and is presented with a remarkably artistic/digital touch.

Wake for Tom

(1991) A follow-up on Audiographs – Songs from the Tenderloin created in 1987. Using the techniques developed for the earlier work, Wake for Tom takes interviews with people living on the streets of San Francisco and sets them in alternating environments: in the street and within a musical score. It explores the lives of the same close-knit group of alcoholic panhandlers. Many have died in the intervening four years, including Tom Scanlon, one of the principal voices in the earlier work. Interviews with him made just before his death are intercut with interviews with his friends and with the professionals whose job it is to deal with the death of indigents. A moving continuation of a sad, humorous, and virtually untold story about America’s homeless. Barney Jones and Jim McKee are the producers.