Interview by Sophie Minello
Found Sounds describe themselves as an “intimate concert collection,” and rightfully so. Somehow placing the perfect bands in the perfect settings, their stripped back sessions feel nothing less than intimate. We were lucky enough to learn more about what these sessions are all about in this interview with Corey Bienert of Found Sounds.
Why the name Found Sounds?
“Found Sound” is a recording term referring to sounds that are naturally occurring. Ie. rustling leaves, footsteps, a creaking door. When coming up with the name for this series I liked the idea that these songs were naturally occurring within the environment they were recorded in. There’s always a unique quality to the recordings because they are out of the studio and are prone to environmental ambience. I also like introducing people to artists they’ll soon love, artists that I’ve found throughout my years of gathering records and playlists.
What inspired you to begin these sessions?
I’ve been a musician since I was 9, I was the drummer for a band called The Hudson Branch for the better part of a decade. During that period of my life I developed countless relationships with fellow musicians not enough people were listening to. It was also during that time that I took an interest in being a documentary filmmaker. It was a very natural transition to bring these two passions together for this series. My love for music constantly fuels my love for filmmaking and vica versa.
How do you find the locations for your shoots? More specifically, how do you create the right space for the music being played?
I started shooting sessions like these in Chicago before I moved to Los Angeles in 2015. Being a west coast transplant I’m always fascinated by the unique terrain Southern California has in abundance. If I wander to a particularly interesting location, I’ll drop a pin and make sure to shoot there next time I line up a session. I find that people are most themselves in front of the camera the more you strip away production aspects. It’s most important to love the songs I’m shooting, it’s the only way I can be truly passionate about what it is I’m making.
How do you decide which artists to feature?
Choosing artists to feature is one of my favorite aspects of the series. I in no way invented the “one take acoustic performance somewhere cool” video, but I know I can have a unique voice in who I choose to feature. I'm first and foremost a music fan. It's what made me want to become a musician in the first place. My love for music and film has had me crafting playlists since I was a kid. I have an ongoing list of artists who I am inspired by and that I think would be a great fit for what the series is all about. Ideally I'd get a chance to add all my favorite artists to the series, and I'm slowly making that a reality.
What gear do you use for your sessions?
Since part of the goal is to keep the sessions as lean and stripped down as possible, I keep gear to a minimum. I shoot handheld with a Sony A7sII, and I'll mic the musician using a single Tascam DR 10L lapel microphone. By using a practically invisible lapel mic, it gives the performance a much more documentary-type sound than a studio session. I like making the mic's invisible, and giving the artist room to walk and look around, so it feels much more like they are a component of the scene instead of being stationary at a visible microphone stand that sounds like a reverb-y studio recording.
Why do you think stripped back performances such as yours are important?
When I pitch the series to a new artist, I like to compare it to how they'd perform the song backstage while they're warming up their vocals right before going on to perform live. As a touring musician, I got to witness hundreds of those types of around-the-campfire-style performances, and was always drawn to it. By tapping these Found Sounds sessions, I'm trying to capture that essence and share it with people who wouldn't normally see their favorite artists perform a song like this. I love how different and magnetic songs are when they’re all stripped down to the very basics, just the human voice and something to keep the tune. It's the way most artists begin the writing process of their songs, just them an a guitar/piano, and now as fans we're getting to see what that looks like.
What are your hopes for the future of Found Sounds?
My hope for the future of Found Sounds is to work with all my favorite musicians and bring even more attention to those I feel deserve it.