Monday, July 22, 2013

David Wu discusses explosive new Fringemunks video "The Consultant"

The completed audio recording of "The Consultant" is so good, in my opinion, that it is the best output of the Season 4 album (which now has just 2 songs left to record/release) to date.  So this is in best-of territory.

As for the music video, it aims to capture in my view the essence of 2013 in the pop culture and political realms, and throws this "feel" over to 2036 for consideration.

That's the premise behind the video.  It's a question, not a statement.  There are approximately 170 (more or less - I didn't tally it up) unique images that I pieced together in a mosaic-esque fashion, and the arrangement will hit people differently at different times, in different ways.  I have nothing to say - I'm merely recapping and reflecting, but not pushing anything.

I am a political moderate, and while this may mean that I disagree with both sides all the time, it also means I have a unique (and in my opinion, a more grounded) perspective.  It's one thing to follow beliefs and have values.  But we are living in a very disturbing time.

The majority of Fringemunks videos out there on the interwebs were produced by third parties, and had nothing to do with me with the obvious exception of the audio production itself.  I did a few music videos of the songs as well.  But this is the first Fringe video not to be primarily about Fringe.  Yet in producing it in this way, I believe it is at the heart of Fringe, which aims to make viewers reflect about real life, real issues, and real relationships.

As many of you know, the episode's storyline dictates which song and lyrical structure I will use to recap the story.  I have received many suggestions for songs to parody for this project, but in 99% of those cases, they merely want to hear a parody of that song, without having given though to which episode it should recap.  So this case was in fact "as usual" - the episode discussed 1) how Walter's former opinions about the other side were now in question, and 2) how Jones was synchronizing the frequencies of doppelgangers to destabilize both sides.  Blurred Lines, indeed.  Hence, the parody choice.

I took it one step further:  blurring the lines between non-fiction and fiction ... between our world, and the Fringe storyline.  I'm not sure if anyone wants to breakdown the images used throughout this video; but I'm not sure if that is the best way to experience/analyze the video anyway.  Up to you.

I was debating on whether to end this video with a message of hope, or a sign of despair.  I decided on both simultaneously (or neither, if you look at it another way):  "DIVIDED WE STAND."  This can be taken two ways:  negatively (we are divided), or positively (we still stand despite the divisions).

Regardless, feel the video and the song.  Reflect, recap, and react as you please.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Holy Naked Tuesday! The Fringemunks release their 1st Season 3 song in almost 2 years

Twenty months have passed since David Wu's Fringemunks last released a song recap of a Fringe Season 3 episode.  Twenty.  The wait is over, and a new song (a parody of Mumford & Sons' "The Cave") is available for you to hear.

That's not to say that these twenty months were unproductive.  The Fringemunks, after all, did release seventeen Season 4 songs, three Season 5 songs, a contest entry song, and a Christmas album all in that time span.

So why the delay with Season 3 songs, of which only three remain?

"It might be part psychological, part difficulty, part indifference" says Wu, who now only needs to complete song recaps for episodes "Reciprocity," "LSD," and the season finale "The Day We Died" to finish the Season 3 album.

Of the 100 total Fringe episodes, this new release - "Epis. 3.20: 6:02 AM EST" - is the 82nd song recap.  Although it recaps a 2011 episode, Wu uses the musical and lyrical sensibility that he has been employing in more recent material.  "It has to reflect how I feel about the episode now, because we are in the 'now', and we're no longer in the past," says Wu.  "And it works for this song.  It is from Walter's point of view, and he has changed.  He is crying.  Instruments in his head are different and more profound and direct."

With lyrics such as Last year, I received a sign from Thee / a white tulip You sent to me / I believed you had forgiven me, the Fringemunks are at their most spiritual - complete with fanfare horns, subtle organs, and banjo-like steel guitar meshing together in the song's instrumental backdrop.  And yet amidst the spiritual content, there is the comedy.  I bumped into Olivia, who screwed Peter the previous night, goes one of the earlier lyric lines.  It is a nod to the other Season 3 songs, while also showing that the project isn't afraid to go where most lyricists don't care to venture.  "Whatever the case, there's no way I would have written these same lyrics two years ago," says Wu.

The Fringemunks started off with a buzz in Fall 2008, just a few weeks into Fringe's five-season run, but now each new song is lucky to get a few "likes" and "shares" on Facebook, or even retweets on Twitter.

"These are lean times for Fringe fan projects, now that the show is over," Wu admits.  "But with this new song release, and the 18 remaining, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and still a lot of great music to make and lyrics to write for this project.  And being that fan projects are now a bit thin, this means that the Fringemunks likely obtain more of a percentage of the audience, albeit a smaller cumulative amount."

The project almost came to an end after Season 3 broadcasts ended.  "At the time," says Wu, "the series' end was not defined, so I knew that committing further to The Fringemunks would mean that it would put a damper on the rest of my side music career as long as there were unreleased songs.  It reached a boiling point, when I said 'forget it.'"

In early Fall 2011, Wu in fact announced the project's retirement, to the dismay of many.  But this retirement was short-lived, as Wu devised a plan for the Season 4 songs.  "Basically I was going to parody the entire White Album (the nickname for the Beatles' eponymous 1968 album), in order.  The season premiere would be - and was - a parody of 'Back in the U.S.S.R.,' while the finale would have parodied 'Revolution 9' and 'Goodnight.'  It was a crazy idea, abandoned after four songs - but it saved the project.  And the 4 songs are among the best, even if the subject matter wasn't the greatest."

Yet all the while, the Season 3 episodes remained on the shelf.  "I always knew I wanted to finish them," says Wu, "but I just wasn't in the mood at the time."  But now, with only three songs remaining from that middle season, the album's stock is up.

Click here to listen to the new song, "Epis. 3.20: 6:02 AM EST."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

David Wu reflects on "Fringe," meeting the cast, and how this series will resonate in time

My journey with Fringe didn't begin at the start of the "Pilot" episode, like many of you.  Mine started midway through that episode.

It was September 2008, and I had seen the bombardment of advertisements for this new J.J. Abrams series.  It had been a long time (perhaps since In Living Color or Growing Pains) since I was interested in any TV series.  So while I was mindful of the hype, I had not fully bought into it, and I took a long nap after work on that Tuesday evening without a second thought.

I woke up, noticed the time, and decided to turn in to the show.  Opening the TV software on my PC, I watched - in the standard definition broadcast with the left and right sides cut off (that's how FOX rolled with standard def back then) - as Charlie Francis visited the Harvard basement lab for the first time, and asked: "Is that a cow?"

And the rest is relative history.  Between then and now, I became a Fringe fan "outlier."  I met and mingled with the cast in NYC.  I created an episodic song recap project that may go down as one of the most elaborate (and insane) fan ventures in history.  And perhaps most profoundly, a character was named after me (yes, "David Wu") in a Fringe episode.

The Fringe Podcast gave me the opportunity to earn a press pass and interview the cast at New York Comic Con in 2009.  It was a spur of the moment decision, and my first trip to New York.  In my interactions with the cast throughout that weekend, it became clear that they were more than just co-workers to each other - they had become a true family less than a full season into the show.

They also knew the importance of establishing a personal relationship with the show's fans, and they took advantage of every opportunity.  This interaction and dynamic would prove to be crucial in the yearly renewal of the series, up until FOX's decision to award the show a 5th and final season (extending the series to 100 episodes) despite horrible Neilsen ratings.

Here are some brief recollections of my interactions with the Fringe cast, and also one producer:

  • John Noble ("Walter Bishop") - This man cares. He was like an older brother to his castmates, and visibly moved whenever a fan praised his work.  By the end of the weekend, he would wave at me in recognition.  When I asked him to record a podcast promo spot, he took my iPod with a recording device attached, and spoke directly into the device's display section - a very Walter-esque moment.  He was elated when he found out about my music recap project for the series.
  • Josh Jackson ("Peter Bishop") - Right before interviewing him, we exchanged greetings and I happened to call him "sir."  ... To which he responded: "Sir?  C'mon I'm still young - I'm turning 30 this year.  Haha!" Then slapped me on the shoulder and confirmed, "Nah, I'm just f-----g with you man!"  He was genuinely happy to be there, and it seems like press junkets are - for him - an opportunity to collect his thoughts about the series, and help with his visioning for his character.  Recording his podcast promo spot, he stated "This is [Your Name Here], and you are listening to The Fringe Podcast" - because the prompter cheat sheet stated exactly that.  He would record the actual promo with his name a few seconds later.
  • Jasika Nicole ("Astrid Farnsworth") - To know her is to love her. She's the one cast member I interacted with the most that weekend.  Her brother-and-sister relationship with John Noble was evident all throughout that weekend.  She and I would remain in touch in private for some time after that.  She and I have the same favorite episode of The Office ("Dinner Party").
  • Kirk Acevedo ("Charlie Francis") - He's nothing like his more stone-faced character.  He and his family were at the junket, and I think he was taking in the entire Comic Con experience, glad to be a part of a well-received series.  The low point of the series - amongst the cast and crew - was when he was written out of the show later in 2009.  It made many of them uncomfortable, and their complaints about this move spilled into interviews.  Perhaps trying to make amends, the show found a way to write him back into the show later on.
  • Lance Reddick ("Broyles") - He's also nothing like his character Broyles.  He's all at once outgoing and empathic, and made everyone around him feel welcome.  He gave the best interview, and our conversation went so well that he waved off the assistant who had motioned "time's up" to him.
  • Jeff Pinkner (executive producer & showrunner) - Our interview got cut off because of time constraints (he had to be moved down to the panel which was a few minutes away).  After I handed him my card which stated I was the Fringemunks producer, he gave a "oh of course" look and stated, "I know who you are."  He was on top of checking on what fans were doing to promote the show.  He asked me for permission to somehow promote my work - I said yes, not knowing how he'd do it.  My best guess is the "David Wu" character was the Way - thanks, Jeff!

It was disheartening at times to see the show dwindle in audience-size from more than 10 million per episode, down to the low numbers it is garnering now.  Last week's episode, which aired just a week prior to tomorrow's finale, was the show's least-watched episode.

A show that was not afraid to take risks also may have fallen flat on its face a few times, but the fact it took risks is a redeeming factor in and of itself.  Ultimately, as a whole, those risks "work" as part of the overarching storyline.  The show, to its credit, evolved - and was a vector moving in a direction, rather than staying a comfort zone.

The show, in many ways, defines the transition from my 20s to 30s.  Things have come full circle.  I watched "Pilot" in my old bedroom in my parents' house, and will watch the series finale tomorrow in my new house in Covington - the site of a cancelled finale party (EDIT:  1 confirmed attendee - but ultimately cancelled just the same).

Though the finale will mark the end of an era, the series' effect and influence on the future has just begun.  The show is ultimately about responsibility:  taking care of the world, and of the ones we love.  It is also a time capsule of "science thought" in the early stages of this millennium.  Will the show gain more viewers after it becomes history?  Of course.  So I won't jinx anything, I won't mention another sci-fi series that is massively popular now, but had low TV ratings during its first-run broadcasts.

Also, fan labor will be rewarded in the future as well.  As new fans decades from now - and perhaps centuries from now - view Fringe as a classic TV series, they will latch onto the work that fans were creating during the series' run.

The legacy continues, for all.  Onward and upward.
David Wu is the creator and producer of The Fringemunks, who are recapping all 100 episodes of Fringe with song parodies.  Listen/download all of them here:

Follow on Twitter:  @DavidWuMusic / @Fringemunks

Monday, January 7, 2013

FRINGE | David Wu's theory about the child Observer's actual identity

In the 2009 Fringe Season 1 episode "Inner Child," we were introduced to the character who was lovingly referred to by many as "Creepy Bald Kid," or "CBK" for short. This kid "resurfaced" in Season 5, is now called "Michael," and seems to be a the key for saving the universe.

Who is he, really?

My theory is that he is actually the physical manifestation of Henry, son of Peter Bishop and the alt-verse-Olivia Dunham - and, technically, prime Olivia's son as well, since both Livs have the same DNA... Yes, the one whose existance was supposedly erased when Peter went into the machine. It seems, to me, that Donald/September utilized this loophole of a person/being/entity as an anomaly that could save the world.

I won't go into a multi-paragraphed borefest of explanation for my theory. Instead, I will present to you a very organized and mindblowing bulleted list of thoughts that seek to verify my prediction:
  • Just as Peter somehow "returned" to existance, perhaps something parallel happened to Henry.
  • Donald/September made it a point to reveal the prior existance of Henry to Peter (the coma brain connection scene), in Season 4 episode "The End of All Things."
  • Henry's chromosomes/DNA were utilized by Walternate to manipulate the machine - and perhaps September was able to utilize this aspect as well.
  • So how could Peter and Liv meet their future offspring back in Season 1? No problem. Just as September could move that one VSC rocker's son through time, he can do it with the kid. Move him to the future to be known as an "anomaly." Move him back to the "Inner Child" Season events. No problem indeed - hey, Donald is on it!
  • "Anomaly XB-6783746"? XB = Ex-Bishop.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

David Wu's track-by-track notes for The Fringemunks' new holiday EP, "Yule Freakout!"

Listen/Download Now!:

Notes are fun, right?  Here goes:

I released this album for 2 main reasons:  1) to generate some interest in the project, using an elastic market (holiday albums get buzz) and uniqueness (there are no other Fringe-themed holiday albums out there) to move the product; and 2) just felt like it.

These songs are not episodic recaps like the main Fringemunks songs.  Thus, they were less detail-oriented, and more about invoking emotion and reflection.  In many ways, the lyric-writing was more natural, while still retaining the "essence" of gross-out Fringemunk standard gag-worthy flavor.

  1. Happy Xmas (Oppression Is Over)
    A new recording.  This is actually one of my favorite Fringemunks songs of all - a rousing way to kick off the album, at the very least.  That's of course me playing all the instruments (which is the case for any Fringemunks song).  My new digital piano (a Yamaha Arius) is being used, and upstairs I overdubbed some tremelo guitar - using a Fender Strat and recording it using a microphone (as opposed to plugging the guitar straight into a mixer).
  2. Blight Christmas
    An underrated track, released last year (2011) on the odds-and-sods album Bloody Rare.  The song's storyline takes place in the alter-universe from Walter's POV when William Bell informs him that he is at fault for all the blight.  Also an ironic track - very upbeat material, positioned with very dark lyrics.
  3. The 12 Days of Fringemas
    A popular track, released last year concurrently with "Blight Christmas."  The piano that I used is at my parents' house up in Seattle.  One year later, the song holds up as a good performance that people should enjoy for many holidays/Christmases to come.
  4. Have Yourself a Fine Delicious Egg Stick
    A new recording.  Like "Blight Christmas," this combines 2 elements that only music can bring together:  this time, gag-worthy lyrics are combined with a very solemn melody and arrangement.  Around this time of the year, I frequently hear all these long, drawn-out holiday songs... perhaps by that one Josh Groban dude.  "Silent Night" ... "O Holy Night" ... all sung and arranged so slowly that it's almost comical.  Hence, this song here makes fun of those types of songs ... long and drawn-out, and maybe people will fall asleep to this song some time in the future.
  5. The Fringemunk Song (with David Wu)
    This is the oldest of the 5 songs - recorded and released in 2008 (during Season 1 of Fringe) as part of my annual Christmas release.  It's meant to be obvious that we basically copied over the lyrics AND dialogue from the original Chipmunks' recording, with a change in one of the lines.  The recording isn't the greatest, but it's 100% Fringemunks, historical and hysterical.  'Nuff said.
David Wu
5 December 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

David Wu discusses Fringemunks' contest entry song "Backstory Ballad"

It's a song that you won't hear for another week - Nov. 7 - when The Fringe Podcast's "Bridge the Backstory Contest" entry deadline is reached.  But the song is complete, and will be submitted within a day.

It's a competitive entry, but the award is in its edginess as a fan-fic-or-humorous-or-something-else romp.  The lyrics itself are, by the nature of its "grasping for straws," 50% likely "true" and 50% joke.  But it succeeds as a semi-epic journey through the years 2012-2036 in the Fringe universe of "what if" tone.

It is a parody, but the parodied song won't be revealed here.  What can be revealed is how I took a detour from what I suspect will be the "usual suspects" in terms of what other contestants will cover in their bridge-the-gap storylines.  I take on characters and entities that may not otherwise have been covered nor cared about - but once mentioned, they and their fictional stories in this song will - assuming the Fringemunks "last" - remain a permanent record of wonder and potentially debatable would-have-been-an-interesting-route tone.

The song will subsequently be released as a track on The Fringemunks' odds-and-sods Bloody Rare compilation album.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fringe: "Walter Bishop Is Wanted" video more than just promo - it's a key

Hello all.  David Wu here.

Recently, a video containing this image was released:

I think it's more than just a promo.  It's a key.  Some of the characters match up with their English counterparts.  Here, for example:

 So - by that logic - all the promos (past and future) that contain funny characters can be matched against this key to decipher what is being said.

--David Wu