Monday, May 13, 2013

Pheaturing Stephanie Sayers

Ready are you? What know you of ready? Hello, kids, welcome to the Phile, where it's Star Wars Month. You know, in the Star Wars films a bunch of characters loose their limbs. Luke lost a hand, Anakin lost an arm, Threepio lost everything... you get the idea. Well, as you know, I was also injured back in October. Not as bad as loosing a limb, but pretty bad. Well, this morning I went for a follow up with my fantastic surgeon, Benjamin Miller, and my arm is between 80 and 85% healed. I am so happy.  Man, that was a bad segue, comparing my injury to characters in movies. What else is going on?  Do you guys remember former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford? He is the guy who told his wife he was going for a hike and then went to Argentina to see his girlfriend. He was exposed as an unethical, lying, cheating weasel. In a stunning comeback, he has been elected to Congress, where he’ll fit right in. Sanford said his first order of business was improving relations with South America.  New predictions claim that 42 percent of Americans will be obese by the year 2030. They say the only way to stop it is for government to step in. Oh, yeah, that will work. When it comes to trimming the fat and tightening your belt, who knows better than the U.S. government?  According to Forbes magazine, Al Gore is now worth more than $200 million. This is what Gore meant when he talked about going green.  Do you know what cicadas are? Every 17 years they come up out of the ground and then they attack everything. This year they're expecting a trillion cicadas. Mayor Bloomberg is advising New Yorkers to move their marijuana plants indoors. The cicadas are back after 17 years, but they don't have their original drummer.   Domino's now has a thing where you go to your computer and you can watch them making your pizza. I liked it better when they just left that to the imagination.  Tom Hanks was voted the most trusted man in the United States. I was on the list but a little farther down. I was between Reese Witherspoon and Maury Povich.  A volcano in Alaska has been erupting for about five days. Alaska is a huge state. It's so vast, white, and frozen that the early settlers gave it the nickname "Nicole Kidman's forehead." They have some weird laws in Alaska. This is true. It is against the law in Alaska to awaken a sleeping bear. Who's going to break that law? "I've had a couple of drinks. I'm going to wake a sleeping bear." All this volcanic ash over Alaska can cause big problems. We're all worried about one thing: ash drifting into Canada and disrupting the hockey playoffs. Volcanic ash can really mess with airplanes. And we can't let this volcano disrupt our air travel. That's the government's job. Former NBA player Dennis Rodman has asked North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to release American prisoner Kenneth Bay. Rodman said, "I'm calling for Kim to do me a solid and release Kenneth Bay." How do you think the Koreans will translate "do me a solid?" I'm sure Kenneth Bay would be thrilled to hear that Dennis Rodman is on his case. Wouldn't it be something if it worked? How many can say they were saved from a North Korean prison camp by Dennis Rodman? Three or four? Eight, maybe. Why do I feel this somehow ends with Michael Jordan being forced to fly to Pyongyang to sign the Space Jam poster hanging over Kim Jong Un's bed in order to prevent nuclear armageddon?  Delaware became the most recent state to legalize same-sex marriage. That marks the 11th state to make same-sex marriage legal and the first thing I know about Delaware.  Movie fans, get this... a movie version of Dungeons and Dragons is in the works. It's expected to set all-time records for people saying, "Ticket for one, please."  Speaking of movies, this is year is the 30th anniversary of the movie Return of the Jedi. That movie of course introduced us to Jabba the Hutt, the Ewoks, the Sarlaac Pit, and of course one of the greatest creations in the Star Wars movies... Slave Leia. So this month on the Phile we are honoring that great creation. Check it out, fellas.

That's Carrie Fisher and her stunt double sunbathing.  One of the coolest things about the Star Wars movies is the Death Star. Now, if I created the Death Star it would look like this.

The target area is only two inches wide, it's a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. I'm so stupid. She's really cute though, right? And check out her bow in her hair, it's Vader's Tie-Fighter.  A lot of people think George Lucas created Yoda, but actually Yoda was created by Dr. Seuss in the pretty unknown book "The Force Is the Force Of Course Of Course".

Don't ask me why it says "By Yoda".  Did you know they were once gonna make a Star Wars game show on TV? I have a screenshot from the pilot.

Rebel scum! I figured it out. LOL.  As you know one of the things I like to do in my spare time is to look up words on Twitter to see what people are talking about. One of the things I recently looked up was the ride I work at... Star Tours, at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This is one I recently found.

And now, from the home office on Coruscant, here is this week's...

Top Phive Phacts About Star Wars You Might Not Know
5. If Han Solo looked as George Lucas had originally imagined him, Harrison Ford would have had to wear a lot more make-up. Solo was initially conceived as as a fat green alien with gills, instead of a nose. He then became a fat pirate with a beard, before turning into the smoothly shaven, waistcoat-wearing Ford... who got the role only after reading out lines for Lucas as a favor.
4. Lucas said in an interview that he was influenced by a Japanese jidaigeki TV programme and liked the word, leading to the conclusion that the Japanese term for period drama inspired his creation of the Jedi, the religious peacekeeping brotherhood to which Obi-Wan Kenobi belongs.
3. Princess Leia’s pastry-shaped hairstyle has been widely copied and parodied. While the style has been linked to historic Iberian sculptures and the traditional fashions of Hopi Indian woman, Lucas said that the look originated from Mexico, referencing “a kind of Southwestern Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look”. Whatever its beginnings, Carrie Fisher found it a pain, saying she felt it made her face rounder and took two hours every day to create.
2. Actor James Earl Jones, who provided the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, suffered from a stutter in childhood. However, he was not the first choice for the baddie’s rasping tones: Lucas originally wanted Orson Welles to voice the part, but deemed him too recognisable. Jones worked alongside British-born bodybuilder and actor David Prowse in the role, as Prowse’s 6ft 5in stature made him a good physical fit for the arch-baddy.
And the number one phact about Star Wars you might not know is...
1. Clumsy alien Jar Jar Binks was introduced in The Phantom Menace for comic relief, but he was initially a two-faced mercenary who was to betray Qui-Gon Jinn, a Jedi Master played by Liam Neeson. Despite his friendlier role, the critics didn’t like bumbling Binks, citing him as an excuse for creating more merchandise (a criticism also levelled at Ewoks) and a racial caricature.

I actually like Jar Jar, no matter what anybody says. Those were all true facts, people. Okay, please welcome back to the Phile the intergalactic comedian straight from the Outer Rim...

Tractor: Hello. What did Palpatine get his mom for Mother's Day?

Me: Um... I don't know.

Tractor: Flowers. Unlimited flowers.

Me: That's stupid, Tractor.

Tractor: How about this one then? Which Jedi became a gynecologist?

Me: Obi-GYN?

Tractor: Close. OB-Wan Kenobi, and I have proof.

Me: Alright, Tractor. Very funny. You can tell one more.

Tractor: I have a limerick for you. The single primary factor, as to why the trash compactor, did not eat the mammal, known as Mark Hamill, was he wanted a more seasoned actor.

Me: Clever, Tractor.

Tractor: Yes, it was a dianoga. But it was a dianoga with standards.

Me: Tractor Beam, everybody.

Tractor: Thank you, and don't eat the Bantha.

The 31st artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Phile Alum Michael Banks. And this is one of his pieces, kids.


The great Michael Banks will be on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's guest is a singer songwriter whose EP "Christmas Island" is available and she can be heard on the Graham Parker tribute album "Piss & Vinegar". Please welcome to the Phile... Stephanie Sayers.

Me: Hello, Steph, welcome to the Phile. Shit, I can call you Steph, right?

Stephanie: Of course.

Me: Steph, how are you?

Stephanie: I'm okay. It's been a really long winter and it's actually just snowed a little today. Trying to stay warm.

Me: Alright, I have to tell you that your version of Graham Parker's "Watch the Moon Come Down" from the GP tribute album "Piss & Vinegar". Did you choose that song to do?

Stephanie: At the time I was wandering around Paris and the chance came to do the recording in London. I was sent a handful of GP songs but the lyrics and sentiment of that one really knocked me out.

Me: Were you a recording artist long before that recording?

Stephanie: I think I had recorded a few demos that would end up on the first and only record about a year earlier.

Me: The tribute album originally came out in '96, but was just rereleased, Steph. How old were you when you recorded that track? You look so young now.

Stephanie: I must have been around 23 years old. I just turned forty last year so that's very nice of you to say.

Me: Were you aware of GP before you did that album?

Stephanie: Almost, sort of, vaguely.

Me: Have you ever met GP or were told what he thought of your version? I'm guessing he loved it.

Stephanie: No, I haven't. I hope he liked it. It's a fantastic song.

Me: Where are you from, Steph?

Stephanie: Originally, outside of Rochester, NY.

Me: You lived all over the States, right? Where did you go to college?

Stephanie: I didn't graduate high school. I think at some point I was sent an equivalency, but eventually had the opportunity to study composition and theory at Oxford with a very patient and kind teacher.

Me: Where are you living now?

Stephanie: London, UK.

Me: My home city. You had one release before the GP album and that was "Christmas Island". Was that a Christmas album?

Stephanie: No, it wasn't. I think I just liked the way the words worked together.

Me: Where is Christmas Island? There's a town called Christmas here in Florida, I don't know if you knew that.

Stephanie: It's really in the middle of nowhere. Somewhere between Australia and the West Coast of America. I didn't know there was a Christmas in Florida.

Me: Steph, you play guitar, but do you play any other instruments? I have a feeling you play a few.

Stephanie: I do. I really like to play the drums.

Me: Did you do the songwriting on "Christmas Island"?

Stephanie: Yes. I had written the songs just 12-string acoustic and vocal, then a lot of help from John Dragonetti, Rick Griffin, Kurt Ralske, Joe McGinty and Charlie Abbot. Mostly recorded at Downtown and Q- Division in Boston and one song with Joe and Kurt at Zabriskie Point NYC.

Me: I read that you were discovered by someone from Dreamwork Records. I don't know if discovered was the word, as you already had records out, but I have to ask, is that the same Dreamworks that puts out the Shrek movies. Spielberg's company?

Stephanie: Yes, it was the same Dreamworks. I don't know if I was discovered. A friend in Los Angeles was nice enough to let me stay at his place and I ended up meeting a really nice A&R person who heard me playing piano. I think I was playing "After the Goldrush". In any case, two weeks later I was in Lenny's office playing some songs on my 12-string Guild.

Me: I didn't know they had a record label. Anyway, when was this and how were you approached by them?

Stephanie: The record label was a bit short lived. This must have been around '97-'98?. It all just sort of happened once I got out to California.

Me: Wasn't Elliot Smith and the Eels also on the same label?

Stephanie: Yes.

Me: My dad was a big Smith fan. That's sad that he took his own life. Did you know him well?

Stephanie: Yes, it is very sad. No, I didn't know him.

Me: I met Emmett Smith the football player a few times. Anyway, was it fun working with Dreamworks?

Stephanie: I wrote a lot of songs and met a lot of wonderful people.

Me: Did they treat you good?

Stephanie: Lenny Waronker was very nice in that there was no contract and it afforded me to have my own little working studio above Phil Paolina's Boxing Gym on La Brea. At night there was a Korean Karaoke bar on the other side.

Me: Did you hesitate signing to a big label? 

Stephanie: Yes, I hesitated so much that I never signed. Typical.

Me: Oh. Alright, as well as the GP tribute album you also played on another tribute album... Galaxie 500. I'm not aware of them that much. What kind of music do they play?

Stephanie: They were a great band from Boston. Simple with lots of depth.

Me: Did you choose the song for that album, and were you a fan of theres?

Stephanie: I think that was Scott Fritz's idea. It was really nice of him to ask, I had always been a big fan. Plus it was the first proper recording I did at the little eight track studio. Exciting to hear it all come together.

Me: If I ever put together a Foghat tribute album I would want you to play on it. I wonder what song you would do. Hmmmm. Do you know Foghat's music?

Stephanie: "I'll Be Standing By". Very beautiful. Everything sits way back... drums, vocal. I don't think anyone could get the guitar tone or try.

Me: Wow, great song written by my dad Rod Price and very obscure. Okay, I have to ask you about "CLEO", a musical you are writing the music for. You are doing more then that though, right?

Stephanie: Actually, that's Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices) writing all the songs. I just took them back down to basics and recorded acoustic and vocal. Then we went into the studio and recorded the basic tracks. Something like 26 songs in three weeks.

Me: Is it a musical about Cleopatra?

Stephanie: I think so.

Me: When is it coming out, Steph, or did it come out already?

Stephanie: I don't know if it is.

Me: It's being directed by Steven Soderbergh. Did you get to meet Steven? How was that?

Stephanie: I think he's retiring now. We met at Musso and Frank's in Hollywood. I gave him a copy of "Odessey" and "Oracle" by the Zombies and some David Bowie tracks. I was very enamoured with the clarity and separation of the instrumentation on those records, also the transparency of the mixing. I thought conceptually it would be a good marker for the project and also for Pollard's writing.

Me: I think he did retire from making movies. I dunno. How long have you worked on that project?

Stephanie: I think he's painting now. Like I said, I worked for a about a month on pre-production and a few weeks in the studio. It was fun to work counterintuitively.

Me: You did say that. Duh. Are you still writing and recording, Steph?

Stephanie: I'm trying.

Me: Will you be releasing any of your own music, or do you prefer to work with other people?

Stephanie: I'd love to release an album. It's nice to work with others because it gets you out of the ego and frees everything up a bit.

Me: You seem to be very busy, which is cool, so I appreciate you being on the Phile. Okay, so this year I am asking random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Are you ready? This is random, and I think I asked someone this before, but here goes. Would you rather live by the beach or in the mountains? I'm guessing beach.

Stephanie: Yes, definitely the beach.

Me: Thanks for being here, Steph, go ahead and plug your website and anything else, and please come back on the Phile when your next project comes out. All the best.

Stephanie: Thanks so much for the opportunity. I'm at

There. That about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Stephanie for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Sunday with the kids from the band Navy Skies and then on Monday with Samuel St. Thomas from the band Bovine Social Club. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

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