Intro from Jay Allison: Our Transom Valentine's Day Feature by Miguel Macias. It is no mere confection. It's a long and intricate montage, that tricky form. Miguel pulls it off - scored with his own music, no less.
What is Chasing Love?
When I started the preliminary research work for Chasing Love, I could not imagine that this project would expand over three years of my life.
Chasing Love started as a meticulous look at the arrival and evolution of the idea of Romantic Love in Western society. But since the very beginning, I felt very attracted by the vague connection that Octavio Paz establishes between capitalism and Romantic Love.
Traveling through psychology, anthropology, biology, linguistics, history and philosophy, the content of this project changed over the time, grew and shrank until, one day, I made the last connection, the one I needed to put together the more than 80 hours of interviews collected with experts and ordinary, wonderful people.
Many writings and researches have established the connection between capitalism and love, even between late capitalism and emotions.
How about late capitalism and Romantic Love?
Chasing Love is a one-hour radio documentary that explores the ways late capitalism has affected and is affecting the idea of Romantic Love and, consequently, the way relationships are handled and viewed in American society.
The process of creating a piece like this happened both in the paper, and in the waves. Waves that became more and more obscure. In these three years I explored the field of computer music, video art, radio drama and tried to mix them all together. The results are in Chasing Love. Chasing Love tries a way of conceiving a piece as a whole; where music is composed as the bits of interviews are blended together; where secrets are told behind words of narration. Where the producer is nowhere to be found and present in every second of it.
Creating something new is almost an impossible aspiration, but I would like to think that this is perhaps, at least, not common in a radio panorama where too many producers are tempted buy into the idea that there is only one way to make radio.
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To all of you listeners out there, my advisor always told me she could not relate to this piece. She is older than me, has different experiences than me… I tried and tried hard to make this piece the piece of everyone… and of course… that was never possible. I wanted Chasing Love to be many more things than it is… I wanted it to be more political, I wanted it to be more universal… but it is what it is… a reflection of me. But the one thing I will always be open to is to keep talking about it. If you listen to it, please, say or ask something about it, very good or very bad… but say something.
This piece would not have been made without the help and wisdom of Martin Spinelli, Irene Sosa, John Jannone and Pat Willard.
I want to also send special thanks to my two actors, Brian and Liza, who gave a voice to my memories. And, of course, many, many thanks to the people who sat with me through hours and hours of interviews, giving me their secrets, their happiness and their sadness. Thanks again to my admired friend and advisor Irene Sosa for having so much patience and pushing me to never quit this project.
Tech Info… etc…
The tech info… oooohhh… This is the part where many say, “I don’t give a damn about the technical aspect of my work…” Well I do. As a matter of fact, I do too much, so… let me take my time to tell all the little details involved in the production of this piece.
There are a lot of fabulous producers who really don’t give a damn about tech as far as they know they are using the right material. I just enjoy trying new devices, testing microphones or looking for a sound that shakes the room. The idea of Chasing Love was driven by a implacable desire to find something that helped me and the ones who listened understand an aspect, if only one single aspect of the idea and nature of love. There are lots and lots of anthropological, biological, psychological, neurophycological, linguistic, sociological… philosophical or historical. Any type you can imagine. Any type of study will tell you that, there is no certainty on what love is. And almost inevitably every one of those academics will tell you that they believe in it. I believe in love more than I did when I started this project. And I did stop believing at some point of the process. The source of this paradox is the confusion, constant confusion, of members of our society when talking about feelings on one hand… and the ideas of them on the other. The feelings are, so far, unexplainable. Potentially universal. But the idea changes at every corner, country, society, home, person. My goal with this piece is not to question the emotion. My goal was to question the ideas attached to this emotion in western society.
Oh yes, back to the tech info… I did not use ProTools. I don’t particularly like it and if anybody out there feels the same way I would encourage you to go with a different piece of software. I used Digital Performer 4.12. A fantastic piece of software mounted on a PowerBook G4 1.25 GHz and 512 MB of Ram. To the question of a friend… is the PB overrated?. I have to answer, yes. It is a great machine but if you are going to run serious tasks it doesn’t handle them fully well. In that respect I have to admit that ProTools is much friendlier software than DP, or others. The amount of memory and speed required to run ProTools is much less.
To record interviews, I used two types of recorders:
HHB MDP 500. A wonderful machine. The MDP 500 is reliable, gives great sound, versatile and… Expensive… some might think that is not worthy to spend money on a MD like this when there are consumer level MDs for a fifth of the price. On the other hand portable recording is moving fast towards solid state recorders. I would say that means, while solid state are reliable enough, I do recommend this machine.
Sony MZ-R70. My first MD recorder… an old machine, but with the same good qualities of portable MD recorders. These are so cheap compared to the professional ones, and the quality is so good that it is hard to be convinced to spend over $1000 on a professional recorder. I’ve had this recorder for almost four years now and it still works!
Shure SM 86. I was having a little trouble keeping it quiet in these long hours of interviews. I wanted to have a very warm and clean sound that usually only condensers give. The ATM 10a is a beautiful mic, but it will pick up the dog barking three blocks away. I am usually reluctant to using Shotguns for interviews. I finally found the SM 86. This is a condenser microphone with a cardioid pickup… and on the top of that, being designed for stage performance reduces the handling noise a lot. It turned out to be a great combination with the HHb. The one complaint that I have is that, a couple of times, it gave me a very high frequency hiss.
Audio Technica AT ATM10a. As a friend of mine said… “the closest you can get to an studio mic spending a little more than 100.”
Shure SM 58. I don’t have anything to say that most don’t know about this mic. Very reliable and the sound is great for any situation.
Audio Technica AT 4050. This studio mic is a great option. Gives a much warmer sound than others from the same house and is very affordable.
Motu 828 MK II. If you are ready to say bye to the digidesign monopoly and also have a decent budget. This AD converter is the best thing you can get for a under $1000 and that will bring you to the studio quality level… not that you need it for radio but… if you are into sound art or music… this thing allows you to record 10 tracks simultaneously at studio quality. A little big if you are thinking about moving around.
Fender Strat Plus 1991. My oldest guitar. I used it for anything from blues to heavy and radio.
Antonio Aparicio Flamenco guitar.
Max/MSP programming. Some segments of Chasing Love include sounds generated with Max/MSP. I have been working with it for about three years now. It is a great asset when creating sound environments.
Rhodes and Sefan Rusconi. For three months I had the pleasure of subletting a room to Stefan Rusconi, a Swiss jazz musician who is at a level that I probably can’t even appreciate. But, I was able to play and record with him a couple of times. On a section of Chasing Love, you will recognize the sound of his Rhodes.