Interview: Dr Matt Green and the Sound of Coffee

Before Christmas I started working on an ambitious new project for Unreal City Audio who are producing multi-part audio tours exploring offbeat strands of London history. I am currently helping to produce part of their Coffeehouse series, which will eventually end up as an interactive iPhone App.

The tours are being developed as a series of ‘legs’ with an emphasis on narrative and rich sound design, so are suitable for listening both on location or elsewhere.

The Coffeehouse tour currently in development guides the listener along a mysterious and often dark path of London history, tracing the rise of coffee into the forefront of mainstream culture. The main challenge (and joy) of this project is in recreating an authentic and immersive sound which will pull the listener into the rich narrative written by historian, coffee expert and project co-founder Dr Matt Green.

The tours aims to provide what Matt describes as a ‘cathartic voyage of discovery’ into an alternate London history, not often visited by mainstream guides or tours. You can hear more about these tours, including how each leg is developed and produced in an interview I recorded with Matt: 

You can listen to a brief extract from one of the pieces I’ve been producing which takes place in George Yard (see map below) – in it we hear the flames of the great fire beginning to engulf the streets of London. Suspicion has fallen upon Turkish coffee vendor Pasqua Roseé whose mysterious new drink has been generating a lot of unease with many of the locals (and it appears they’re out to get him!) but not everything is as it seems…

In addition to the audio tours, Matt has also adapted the material into a series of ‘live’ walking tours, which he presents accompanied by actors and musicians, and are already being met with critical acclaim. He will be giving tours throughout March and April, to find out more and book a place drop by his website here.

You can also keep up to date with Unreal City Audio via their twitter (from which they also tweet unusual facts about London history).

The D-Word

Image by: David Paul Ohmer (flickr)

Why is death such a difficult subject to talk about? From hospital mortuary to the grave, The D-Word explores our complex relationship with death through the perspective of those who deal with it on a daily basis.

Recently featured on Transom.org, The D-Word is an audio documentary I produced last summer on the subject of death. I’d urge you to visit Transom and explore their excellent site, but you can also listen to or download my piece below:

Download (MP3) (right click)

 View on PRX

The documentary was made in part for my MSc in Science Media Production and explores our relationship with death through the perspective of those who deal with it on a daily basis.

The piece experiments with a braided narrative weaving between interview and actuality recordings, taking the listener into a hospital mortuary, inside funeral homes and across a church yard to explore the concept of death from a number of personal perspectives.

This documentary is also a response to my own experience in dealing with the death of a close friend and you can read more about this in my article over at Transom.org.

In addition to this piece, I also produced two further shorts from the material recored for this documentary. These short audio vignettes experiment with form and sound to explore some of the themes touched upon by pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton.

Adam as machine (more info)

Winters Rest (more info)