Recently we got the chance to interview Julia Mattison and Noel Carey, the creators of the mockumentary Brooklyn Sound. Check out our interview to learn more about Brooklyn Sound, what they love to do, and what they love about NYC!
upfrontNY: Can you tell us about Brooklyn Sound?
Julia: Absolutely! Brooklyn Sound is a mockumentary web series about a legendary recording studio that is now in danger of being shut down. Noel and I play the head engineer and studio owner, as well as a variety of crazy musical characters that come in and out of the studio to record. There’s a lot of original music, a lot of heart, and a very wide range of wigs and facial hair.
upfrontNY: How did you both come up with the idea of this series?
Julia: Noel and I are always coming up with new ideas and ways that we can collaborate comically and musically, and we reached a point where we knew that we wanted to write music together and make some kind of filmed project. Our first idea for the show was to make a docuseries that would follow different bands trying to make it in New York, and we knew we’d play members of each band. The decision to base the show in a recording studio came up after I watched Dave Grohl’s Sound City documentary and was simultaneously spending a lot of time at Virtue and Vice Studios in Brooklyn. A recording studio is just an amazing home base to have a revolving door of musical characters, so it all really came together when we landed on that idea.
Noel: We had thought about starting a real band for a brief period, but Julia and I like writing in such a wide range of styles and sounds, many of which go beyond the voicing of a girl and a guy and a guitar. That’s where our very talented friends came in. We could never perform a Josiah and the Teeth song without the extra talent you see in that episode (all those guys are really playing their instruments), and without a musical arranger like our friend Charlie Rosen, the Kookie and Milano and Shee tracks would sound nowhere near as intricate and real as they do in the show.
upfrontNY: What has been the best part of working together on this project?
Julia: Personally I have the most fun when we write music together, especially when the music has a comedic undertone. We both love writing songs that are funny and ridiculous while also being melodic and intricate and catchy. We are very much on the same wavelength when we write, and have this nice back and forth where we can “yes and” each other’s ideas and come up with these really fun songs that we’re proud of.
Noel: We got to spend so much time together on set, which is always great, but the hilarious part is that we were always in different make up and crazy costumes. We also shot the whole show out-of-order in a crazy weeklong jumble, so it was never really normal Noel hanging out with normal Julia. It was forty-year old Andy Warhol Noel with a soul patch hanging out with tiny beardy mountain man Julia or some other bizarre combination of characters. We got such a kick out of it.
upfrontNY: Do you have a favorite episode?
Julia: I’ve thought about this often, and I don’t think I can pick a favorite! I do have favorite parts or favorite scenes in each episode, but it’s hard to pick one as a whole. I guess I would have to say episode three with SHEE is my favorite standalone episode as far as quality, because it is really concise and humorous and satisfying. I think that episode is the best example of what Brooklyn Sound is.
Noel: Episode three has one of my favorite endings by far; succinct and weird and out of left field yet somehow consistent with the rest of the episode. There’s something about the Why The Lilacs? episode which I really love. Somewhere along the line, our director Drew pointed out the fact that this was the only episode that was just the two of us the whole way through, and personally, it kind of doesn’t feel like it. Stu and Linda definitely felt like old friends that popped by the studio to say hi one day and then disappeared.
upfrontNY: What do you want others to know about the series?
Julia: It was made with a lot of love and laughs and we really just want people to enjoy it and have a great time. We hope people will enjoy the music and the bands, and be inspired by this underdog story to support independent music and awesome indie recording studios.
Noel: It’s always a gamble getting into a new webseries, because they’re all so different. There’s not one right way to make a webseries, there are a hundred at least. We somehow got a fantastic crew of people, including our director Drew Van Steenbergen, our producer Andrew Merki and our DP Matt Figler. They really took our little webseries idea above and beyond what we had reasonably hoped for; they dressed up our silly ideas and made them look amazing. Julia and I have talked about an alternate universe somewhere out there where we didn’t connect with those guys and the whole show was filmed on iPhones with spray painted mops on our heads for wigs. That totally could have happened.
upfrontNY: If you could have a special appearance by any actor or musician who would you want to join you on Brooklyn Sound? Would they play themselves or a fictional character?
Julia: Oh man. It would be way too hard to pick just one. I think having Paul McCartney on as himself would be the ultimate dream. Or maybe he would come on as a character… Like the new intern, Paul, who keeps trying to play guitar but we won’t let him because we need coffee and that’s not his job.
Noel: “I mean, look at that Paul guy, he doesn’t even know which way to hold the guitar.”
Y’know, we’ve dreamt about that very thing. I would either love a very serious musician like Yo-Yo Ma playing a wacky character or vice versa. Whoever came in, I’d want them to play someone completely opposite from themselves. Julia, seriously, that Paul idea is amazing.
upfrontNY: When not working on Brooklyn Sound, what do you love to do?
Julia: The fun thing about Brooklyn Sound is it’s such an amalgam of what we like to do all the time. I love playing music, singing, doing sketch and improv comedy, writing, playing characters, hanging out with fun people. Hmm. I love food? I get very excited about good food in New York, which is to say I’m always excited.
Noel: I really love drawing and painting and doodling and illustrating in my spare time. Some of my drawings even made it into the show as album art or show posters. Easter egg hunt!
– New York City –
Number 1 favorite thing about New York City –
Julia: I love that there is always something fun to do in New York. People always say that New Yorkers are isolated or that it’s a lonely city, which can be true, but I think those feelings creep up when you get stuck in a routine. When you’re outside in New York and take the time to look around, there’s always a concert to see, or an exhibit to check out, or a park to explore. I’ve been here for about five years now, and still I will sometimes decide to just walk around the city for hours and find a new coffee shop or park or restaurant that I never knew existed, and those’ll become my new favorite spots.
Noel: My favorite thing is the FREE stuff. Everyone has this concept that if you want to have fun in New York you have to spend a bunch of money, but so much of what the city has to offer is free. Late night talk shows like Fallon or Colbert, summer concerts with world-class artists, museums, parks, art fairs, the Staten Island Ferry, etc.–all free.
Favorite NYC restaurant –
Julia: I love the Bouchon Bakery in Columbus Circle.
Noel: This is a weird answer, but all the corner delis. Amazing sandwiches. Every single one. And they’re everywhere.
Favorite NYC spot for a night out with friends-
Julia: B Bar & Grill is always fun. Freehold is Williamsburg is my new favorite place.
Noel: I love playing games when I’m out with friends. Fat Cat is great for pool and ping-pong and cheap drinks and really good live music.
Favorite NYC music venue-
Julia: I love Joe’s Pub and 54 Below. I get to catch more singer/songwriters and up and coming artists at Joe’s Pub, while 54 Below is this musical theater mecca. For a recommendation, check out : Henderson next time she plays Joe’s Pub, and Charlie Rosen’s Broadway Big Band when they play 54 Below. Both are not to be missed nights in New York.
Noel: Agreed–those venues are top-notch and a favorite for both of us. Rockwood Music Hall is also a very venue too where you can see great acts for no cover charge. They’ve also got a little balcony inside that make you feel like you’re in New Orleans.
Favorite season in NYC?
Julia: I love the end of Summer into Fall. I love September in New York. It’s beautiful out, but not so humid. Everyone’s enjoying the outdoors and barbecuing and playing together before we all hibernate again for winter.
Noel: Fall’s my favorite season as well, but no place does the holidays like New York City. I kind of love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.