Monday, December 15, 2014

Wide Eyed Welcome: Meet J Alexander Diaz, Resident Sound Designer

J Alexander Diaz is a sound artist originally from Colorado and now based out of Brooklyn, NY. His work encompasses sound for theatre, dance, and the concert stage. In the past year, J has collaborated with theatre and dance companies in Colorado, Indiana, New York City, and Ghana, Africa. Currently, J is working with the Accra Theatre Workshop on a new musical, several dance pieces and sound installations. Recent projects in NYC include working with the RadioTheatre, the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Wide Eyed Productions, and volunteering with the 52nd Street Project. J received a Bachelor of Musical Arts in piano from DePauw University in 2013. There he studied with Dr. May Phang. His composition mentors have been Dr. Scott Perkins (Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Theory, DePauw), Veronica Pejril (Instructor of Music Technology, DePauw), and Dr. Harry Bulow (Head of the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University). J will start his graduate work at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in February of 2015. He will work towards a Master of Fine Arts in music composition.

[J just came on as Wide Eyed's Resident Sound Designer. We are so excited to have him as part of our team! - ed.]
  • You designed the (extensive!) sound for our recent production of Dead Special Crabs. Can you tell us a little bit about that process, and your Wide Eyed experience?
The process for Dead Special Crabs began with design conversations with the director, Kristin Skye Hoffmann. I had imagined the design circling around the radio drama genre where music is melodramatic – creating shadows of suspense. Similarly, Kristin had been hearing underscoring for Dead Special Crabs from the film noir world. With this in mind, I set upon creating sound effects and original music to support our vision. This involved creating improvisations that I then took to rehearsals, and heard how they either helped or deterred a scene. My experience was more than wonderful. I find the Wide Eyed team open to new ideas and experimentation, which, after all, is what great art needs.
  • When did you know that you wanted to be a sound designer? How did you get started?
My first sound design was as a sophomore at DePauw University. My friend Ed told a director that he knew a composer who would write music for a play. Lo and behold, I ended up writing several string quartet pieces and directing the quartet live in the performances. However, I did not know that sound design for theatre could be a career path until my last year at DePauw. It was then that I designed the music for Mysteries…And Smaller Pieces by the Living Theatre Company and decided that I wanted to write music in theatre for a living. 
  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us?
Currently, I’m working on several dance pieces and a musical with the Accra Theatre Workshop in Ghana, Africa. I’m finishing up my own piano sonata inspired by the NYC soundscape and beginning a rock/EDM opera. Within a month’s time, I’ll also be volunteering with the 52nd Street Project. Other than that I am binge watching the show Parks and Recreation.

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