Volume 2-2012



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Learning from Jimmy Iovine

Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine was featured in a recent piece in Rolling Stone, and it was one of those rare celebrity interviews that actually yield insight and useful information for people interested in music production and engineering. READ MORE...

On Selling Songs Through TAXI

Occasionally, as an amateur songwriter, I will open the account I have with TAXI, the Web-based Artists & Repertoire service, check out the listings, usually for those calling for Film & TV soundtrack music, and if I have something that seems like a possible match I will upload an MP3 mix and submit it for consideration. I never get anywhere with this past-time... READ MORE...



(Click here)

New Releases on RARadio: "Last Call" by Jay; "Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; "Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" from Actress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; "Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio; Apteka "Striking Violet"; Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along"; Dana deChaby's progressive rock




"The Musical Meccas of the World"









Original Musical Compositions and Select Covers

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Special Projects





This edition we spotlight  KYLE JARROW, the OBIE-award winning playwright/composer and co-founder of The Fabulous Entourage, the truly fabulous New York City party band. "TFE" is on sabbatical at the moment, as co-front girl Libby Winters goes off to star in the Abba hit-fest "Mama Mia" in Las Vegas, where she has landed a lead role. TFE is Kyle's baby, but he's got plenty to keep him busy over the break: the September premiere of his musical "Love Kills," a re-telling of the Charlie Starkweather/Caril Ann Fugate murders that riveted the nation in 1957-58; and a 2008 premiere of the musical he is writing with hit-maker Duncan Shiek. And that's not all. Represented by the powerful Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Kyle is also staying busy with television and film projects, and his involvement with Ars Nova's writer's workshop The Play Group helps keep him at  the cutting edge of NYC off-Broadway.

After graduating from Yale, with a degree in Religious Studies, Kyle moved to The City on September 9, 2001.  Two days later America, and particularly New York City, was changed by the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. Kyle's entire residency in the Big Apple has been lived in the shadow of that moment in history, which remains an intensely localized event. Other than the Pentagon, a natural target, no other civilian population felt the impact of 9-11 the way New Yorkers did. No one else experienced, in the visceral way New Yorkers did, those moments in which the horizon was altered, when the mightiest of edifices, in a range of steel and concrete that humbles the sturdiest among us, crumbled. 

Sustaining, even thriving in that post apocalyptic stew of paranoia, patriotism, introspection, disillusionment, pride, resoluteness and fear, Kyle has fashioned an artistic statement of shock and awe and unmitigated goodness that roars from the halls with a joyous sound, and rings to the rafters with the promise of a modern theatre.





by RAR


In 2004, Kyle Jarrow won an OBIE Award, off-Broadway's equivalent of a Tony, for his exploration into Scientology, "The Very Merry Unauthorized Childrens Scientology Pageant." Featuring Kyle's original compositions, the play uses Scientology's actual teachings to poke humor at this most controversial of modern religions.  The play has become an annual event in New York City, playing to appreciative audiences who love its blend of laugh out loud satire and deeply sensitive musical introspection. 

Kyle's Scientology satire was wrapped around a tour of dark humors that personifies his work. His "Gorilla Man" examined, in a musical way, the turmoil of a family whose patriarch is revealed to have the DNA of an ape.  There is the psychosexual "private dick" tale "Rip Me Open," with all of its gender confusion, and "fuckplays," which is about as it sounds. And there is "Armless," about a man with Body Integrity Identity Disorder whose desire is to cut off his arms.

Trolling such weird waters, I wondered what Kyle's worldview actually is...

Your plays seem to me to be characterized by a generally bleak view of human nature, an acid satire, and surreal absurdity. First off, did I get any of that right?

Sure! I do have a generally bleak view of human nature, and there's a satirical and surrealist edge to much of my writing. I try to throw in a bunch of humor as well, to make the pill a little easier to swallow.

It makes me wonder what theatre can be, to your mind. Are you on a mission to reveal the world in all its weirdness? Or change it? What are we missing as a species that you might inject into us through your work?

We all live busy lives, full of complexity and complication. We often don't have the time or the inclination to think critically about the way we live or the choices we make. But when we sit down in a theater, or in front of a movie screen, or at a rock concert-we're stepping outside of our lives, if only for a little while. That makes it the perfect time to reflect, and to ask the questions that we might not otherwise ask ourselves. Questions about why we live the way we do, why the world is the way it is, and if and how those things should change. That's why I write: I like making people confront these questions.

Your website is called "Land of Trust," which just sounds sarcastic. Anything behind that name?

One night about a year and a half ago I was out at dinner with a couple of friends, and we were talking about another friend who had done something fairly shady. My friend Brian said, "He needs to come back to the land of trust." I thought that was one of the funniest things I'd ever heard. So a few months later, when I started a website, I called it The Land of Trust. I've also written a song for my band, The Fabulous Entourage, called this. There's no deeper meaning, really: I just think it's an amusing phrase.

Where are you from? How did you get from there to here (Brooklyn)?

I grew up in Ithaca, NY, and lived there until I went off to college at seventeen. My family did travel a lot when I was child (my dad is a college professor), which took us to Australia, Finland, Russia, and England. Those early-life travel experiences definitely helped shape who I am today. Anyway, at age 17 I went off to college, lived for four years in Connecticut, then moved to NYC after graduation. I arrived in New York on September 9, 2001, which as you can imagine was just about the worst possible time to move there. I thought about leaving after 9/11, but decided to stick it out. That first year in the city was rocky, to say the least, but it got better and I'm very glad I stayed.

You have a degree in religious studies from Yale, something you turned to after first studying political science. That strikes me as a shift from the corporeal to the metaphysical. Was there some parallel shift in the worldview of young Kyle Jarrow around that time? Or was it a matter of you finding your natural plane?

Wow, I like that analysis. I love it when interviewers offer a way of thinking about my life that never occurred to me. It makes me sound a lot smarter than I really am. I think you're right: young Kyle Jarrow arrived at Yale wanting to focus on more "practical" fields, and in the course of his freshman year came to be interested in more abstract metaphysical concerns. Somehow, the latter just started seeming more important.

To those of us looking in on your life, it seems like something anyone would wish for himself or herself. You have had early success. Do you recall some point at which things kind of took off for you? What did that feel like? Is there a sense of excitement that is still with you?

Well, that's very kind of you to say. There have been some great moments: first NY Times review, winning an OBIE Award, getting my first TV deal, having a caricature of the band in The New Yorker. As great as all those sorts of things are, the thing that keeps it exciting for me - I know this'll sound cheesy, but it's true - is the constant quest to write well, to figure out how to express a story or a theme most effectively. Every project has its own set of riddles and challenges. Facing those is what keeps things interesting for me.

Do you feel a sense of momentum right now? Like you can do no wrong? Or do you feel pressure to top yourself?

I definitely feel a pressure to do better and better work, to keep improving. Most of this pressure is self-imposed. But I think it's important-without that, I would get lazy.

Do you look at your career as having an arc and, if so, what is at its highest point? What is your fondest wish for your career?

These are some tough questions. I guess the truth is I don't really think about this. I try to take every day as it comes, and every project on its own terms. There are high points and low points, sure, but it can be dangerous to concentrate too much on that.

Do you feel fated in any way? Is what is happening for you just an extension of what you always knew would happen for you?

Wow, this one is deep. The answer is no; I don't feel fated in the least. I mean, I'm a writer; it's not the most profound of professions. If I were saving starving children or leading a nation, that might feel like a fated existence. This, not so much.

What is your musical training? When did music start for you? How does a poli-sci/religious studies major become a musician?

I started taking piano lessons when I was in second grade, and I played trumpet in high school. I was also in the high school choir and the madrigal group, which is just as dorky as it sounds. Music's always been an important part of my life. One of the most fun things in the world for me is to sit at a piano and just futz around, coming up with melodies and parts of songs. I can do that for hours.

How did the Fabulous Entourage come together? And will they ever come together again? Do you have any long-term vision for the act?

The Fabulous Entourage began as a collaboration between Travis Chamberlain (bassist/vocalist in the band) and me. At first, it was just the two of us, performing with a drum machine. Over time, we added a drummer (Perry Silver) and female vocalists (the current lineup being Libby Winters and Pamela Quinn). At the moment, we're on a six-month hiatus because Libby booked the leading role in Mamma Mia in Las Vegas. We plan to reconvene after that, however. People can go to our website at to find out details on that.

I read where your fondest dream, at one time, was to tour the Entourage and make records - become a rock star. Is that still true?

I love playing music live, and I love recording with The Fabulous Entourage. Being able to do that full-time would be an extremely fun life. Is that still my fondest dream? I'm not sure. I'm not really sure what my fondest dream would be, at this point. My life seems to be going pretty well at the moment; I'm cool with riding it out, seeing where it leads.

Might Kyle Jarrow ever become a solo act? A front guy?

I haven't thought about it much, though who ever knows what the future will hold. Really, I don't think of myself as a performer so much as a composer; that's more my focus.

The Fabulous Entourage is a lot of fun and you sound great. I love your energy and attitude. Is the Fabulous Entourage an embodiment, in any way, of your personal philosophy? Of any themes running through your work? I'm not completely sure what your "position" is in the band? Do you have any control over its direction?

Thanks for the compliments. We have fun doing it; I'm glad that comes across. I write most of the songs for the band and play keyboard and sing, bassist Travis Chamberlain writes the rest and we all arrange them together. There are four vocalists in the band, which is a lot of what makes our sound distinct I think. As for the themes that run through the songs… a review on the website wrote about us:

"Woe would be the best word for the The Fabulous Entourage's general demeanor. Woe to this sad, painful life of unrequited love! Woe to this world of want and desire and war, but of course, beneath it all, is a deep satisfaction that if we have to face a world of anguish and desolation, you'd better BELIEVE that we're going to look good while we do it!"

I'd say that's a pretty good summation of the themes of our music, as well as my own personal worldview.

Going back to your plays, I envy that you have had success exploring the kinds of off kilter subject matter - people who wish to be without their arms, Scientologists, gorilla DNA and how it affects families - that seem the province of the young and the reckless. Can you imagine your future explorations taking the usual track of maturity, i.e., compressing into more cautious spaces? Otherwise, becoming more standard explorations of humanity?

That's a good question. I am pretty young and reckless, I won't dispute that. I'm sure the subject matter that interests me will change as I age. Whether or not it'll get more "cautious," who knows. Let's hope not.

Whose theatre work do you admire?

I'm a big fan of the plays of Sam Shepard, Mac Wellman, Richard Maxwell, Sander Hicks… when it comes to musicals, I like "Hedwig," "Spring Awakening," and "Avenue Q" as well. From folks in my peer group, there's a lot of great writing being done. I've lately been really digging the plays of The Debate Society, Young Jean Lee, and Clay McLeod Chapman.

You must be a highly social creature? Is that right? I say this because you have the highly social party band, and you are associated with groups like Play Group.

I guess I'm pretty social guy. New York's a great city for going out, and I try to take advantage of that.

Do you maintain a group of close friends? Are the members of the Fabulous Entourage close off stage?

The answer to both these questions is yes. In a big city like NYC, it's important to have a close group of friends. It keeps you grounded, keeps you from feeling lost in the shuffle. The members of TFE are some of my closest.

Do I get this right that Play Group members meet regularly to read their work and get feedback? Do you enjoy that process? Do you value feedback or consider it just part of the hardening of your writer skin?

The Play Group is a writer's workshop run by Ars Nova, an arts organization in NYC's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. There are a lot of very talented writers in the group, so it's definitely helpful - and always interesting - to hear what they're working on and to get their thoughts on my writing. I've found that getting feedback, learning which notes to accept and which to ignore, and then knowing what to do with them, is one of the more important skills for a writer.

How do people generally respond to your ideas, some of which are pretty "wild?" Or, is there some insulation in working in those little-visited realms? Is it safer, in your world, to work in "outside" themes?

Some of my ideas are a little off-center, it's true. People cutting off their arms, turning into gorillas, teenage serial killers -- to name a few. I guess that's just the subject matter I'm drawn to. I find that people are more willing than you might guess to accept wild and/or dark stories, as long as they're rooted in an emotional reality. I have, however, gotten some funny responses to ideas before. One friend, after hearing a concept for a new play of mine, just looked at me straight-faced and said "you're kidding, right?"

You probably don't categorize yourself as "writer," "playwright," "composer," "musician," etc., do you? Or do you think of yourself as essentially one of those, but with branches?

Hmmm, I haven't thought about this much. I guess I see myself as a writer, with "playwright," "screenwriter," "TV writer," and "composer" as various branches of that.

You are represented by Creative Artists Agency (CAA), is that right? Did they come knocking, or how did that work?

I worked on a TV project a couple years ago with my friend Stephen Tolkin (a truly awesome writer). He's represented by CAA and he introduced me to the team there, which turned out to be a good match.

Is there a focus to CAA's representation of your work? Are they, for instance, all about movie and television? What's going on on those fronts for you?

CAA represents me on all fronts - film, television, and theater. They've been especially helpful in connecting me to great film and television projects, which are pretty much how I make a living these days. I feel very lucky to get to work with them.

Where are you at with your work about Charlie Starkweather and Caril Fugate? There is a lot to find compelling about that story, but what does it for you? What about the story moves you?

I've written a rock musical called LOVE KILLS about 1950s teenage spree killers Charlie Starkweather and Caril Fugate. It's going to premiere in NYC this September, directed by Jason Southerland. I'm very excited about it and I hope that anyone reading this in NYC will go check it out. (You can see more info online at What I find most compelling about this story is the opportunity it allows to explore the changing nature of love. Is the intensity of young love a good thing, or an unhealthy thing? When love becomes calmer with time and age, is that a natural maturation or a kind of loss? The play examines these issues… and it has a bunch of balls-out emo rock numbers to boot.


You have been working with Duncan Sheik. How did that come to pass? How do you work together?

Duncan is a massively talented guy, and I'm privileged to be writing the book for a musical called WHISPER HOUSE for which he's writing songs. It tells the story of a young boy who is sent to live in a haunted lighthouse during World War II. It's a creepy, and hopefully poignant, show. It'll premiere at Stamford Center for the Arts in Fall 2008, directed by the very talented Keith Powell (who brought Duncan and I together, as he's friends with both of us). A little bit of interesting trivia: Keith also plays the role of Twofer on "30 Rock."

Are you generally of a collaborative nature?

I try to be. Definitely the band is a very collaborative venture. When it comes to theater projects, I used to write alone but recently I've been trying to collaborate more. I'm doing the Duncan Sheik thing, and I'm also writing the book for a musical with songs by Damon Intrabartolo (who wrote the show "bare"). I'm writing songs for plays by Clay McLeod Chapman, Liz Meriwether, and Steve Yockey. I'm developing a film adaptation of my play "Armless" with director Habib Azar, and making a synth pop album with songwriter and producer Nick Szydlowski. Each collaboration functions a little differently, which keeps things interesting. And for someone like me, with borderline ADD, keeping things interesting is very important.

Is there a Kyle Jarrow playbook someplace, a compendium, if only in your mind, of how people should live? Do you have a vision for "our" future? What should it look like? What will we be doing in a perfect world that we are not doing now? Will we ever get there?

Here's what I think: life is tough, and there's a lot of suffering in it, no matter who you are. Do what you can to ease other people's suffering, be as kind as you can as much as you can, and make sure that the people you love know how much you love them. Amen.

Do you think of yourself as a philosopher?

Only on rare occasions, late at night, when I've had way too many drinks. Or, I guess, when answering the question above.

I went through a period, when I was about your age, where I felt that my creative powers were at a high point, and I felt the same about the clarity of my insight into the world's complexities. Do you feel pretty clear in your mind about life right now? Is it easy for you to separate the "rights" from the "wrongs?" Or do such exist to your mind?

I feel pretty lost among the world's complexities, to be honest. My perspective is constantly shifting. In the course of my writing, I struggle with the questions I'm asking myself about how I should live. I find it's most productive to write from a place of questioning, as opposed to a place of trying to advocate an approach to life. Asking questions, and prompting an audience to ask them too, is what good art does.

What is it like to be living in New York City at this time in your life? Can you imagine living anywhere else? What about it might make it your home forever?

I love NYC. It's really like nowhere else on Earth. I know everyone says that, but it's true. New York gets in your blood, like a sickness - but a kind of a great sickness. I think about living other places; sure. I have to go to Los Angeles a lot for work and am often tempted to move there, perhaps I will at some point. Beaches and palm trees are seductive. But at the moment, New York has me hooked.

What are you not doing at this time in your life that makes you feel you might be missing something?

I'd like to travel more. I love traveling, internationally especially, and haven't done this nearly as much I'd like to. Someday, I hope to split my time between the U.S. and a foreign country, maybe Argentina or Turkey (two of my favorite places). Pipe dream? Realistic goal? Only time will tell…

As a religious studies scholar, do you have a problem with Scientology? Is there anything, to your mind, that gives greater credence to one religion over another? Or should we just can them all?

The Church of Scientology tends to be a litigious organization, so I have to be careful what I say on this point. My play "A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant" pretty much lays out how I feel about the Church-I understand the appeal of its teachings, but I have problems with the way the institution is run. The truth is, I feel similarly about a lot of religious organizations. In terms of what they provide for an individual, there's a real value. But institutionally, there are often endemic problems. However, despite this, I would never advocate canning all religion. I'm no Christopher Hitchens. Religious faith is an important part of many people's lives. Just not, at this juncture, mine.

Tell me about the role that "shock" plays in your theatre work?

Shock rocks. It's a powerful tool. It elicits a visceral response, gets you reacting not only with your brain but with the rest of your body too. I think theater could use more of that, so I try to deploy shock as a tool as much as I can, to grab the audience's attention and give them a jolt that will involve them more completely in the world of the play.

How does your family respond to your work?

I think they were a little skeptical at first-my mother's a children's book writer, so she knows that the life of a writer can be a tough one. But they've been very supportive, especially in the past couple years. These days, I even bounce new ideas off my mother sometimes. She always offers a good perspective.

I was reading an interview on line that you did a couple years ago in which you were talking about how painful it is to seek funding for your projects. Does money continue to be a difficult issue? Has that gotten better?

Early in my career, I was involved as a producer with several of my theater projects. I don't regret the experience, but it was always exhausting to look for funding. Recently, I've been lucky enough to have some people passionate enough about my work to raise money for it, and I haven't had to serve in that role. However, it's not easy for them, either - theater can be a risky investment, no matter how you slice it. But I do think it's an important medium, so I'm glad there are people out there who are still willing to invest in making it happen.

How do you survive the sheer expense of living in NYC?

Ha. It's not cheap, that's for sure. I live in Brooklyn, which helps. My apartment's not particularly big. And I don't buy a lot of new clothing. Somehow, I've managed to scrape by. But I do think the cost of NYC living, especially real estate, is a big problem. I worry about the artistic community being priced out. The irony, of course, is that a rich artistic scene is what draws many of the more affluent people to the city. It'll be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out over the next ten years-I imagine the meteoric rise of rents will slow. I certainly hope so.

Do you generally find the community you work within to be supportive? Hostile? What is the personal dynamic like existing in the milieu you exist in?

Throughout my short career, I've met people who are very supportive of my work, and others who have been more critical. Luckily, the first group has far outnumbered the second. Being a young artist in New York isn't easy, and all of us struggling through it know that, so I think we try to bolster each other as much as we can, giving each other work and support and feedback. A lot of my friends are artists, and we take joy in each other's successes. I think you have to-the alternative is you become a shriveled up jealous person, and no one wants that.

Finally, what is one your mind these days? Is there something we haven't covered that you have been dying to talk about? If so, please do!

After 38 questions, I feel rather talked out. I guess the only thing I would add is this: I enjoy being a writer and musician, and I think it's important. But I think it's also important to remember how lucky I am to be able to do this for a living. And how lucky I am to live in this relatively affluent nation and to have been born with the privileges I have. I try to remember to be thankful every day for that, and to take the time to help those less fortunate than me. It sounds a little cheesy, no question, but it's an important part of living a good life. And that's the goal at the end of the day, isn't it?-Living a good life.

And that's the goal at the end of the day, isn't it?-Living a good life.






©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), May, 2012