Keith Levene - 2011 info

Fodderstompf: Jim Lang contributed to the soundtrack of the 'Hollywood Vice Squad' movie along with Keith Levene. He also gets a credit on the '2011' EP. Karsten Roekens contacted him to ask about his work on the EP… (*Also see below)

Jim: I worked with Keith on the score to "Hollywood Vice Squad" in 1986. We worked at my studio, knobworld, which was at that time in the basement of my house in Echo Park in Los Angeles.

I don't know how much detail you want about the recordings, but most of what went into the cues we worked on was done with an EMU Emulator II sampler, guitar and a few live keyboards. Keith was an avid sampler user and one of the best Emulator II programmers I knew. At the time, most film composers, if they used samplers at all, were using the high end ($250,000) Synclavier systems. Keith was at the other end of the spectrum squeezing agonised refried guitar sounds out of his EII. He taught me how to use it and loaned me his to work with from time to time. We recorded to 24 track and mixed to DAT. Keith played almost everything, although I recall having done some Hammond B3 and other synth playing. I don't recall mixing the cues, although I think I must have mixed some of them. I'm sure that Keith mixed others on his own.

I think Keith found the collaborative nature of making film music rather nerve-racking. His model for making music was the recording process of making records, where, once you get it mixed, you're pretty much done. Of course in film music that mix could be the first of many drafts of the same piece with major and or minor revisions. Keith ended up remixing and re-doing things a few times, and my recollection is that he found that part frustrating.

I saw Hollywood Vice Squad once many years ago and I'm not sure which cues made it into the film. I believe Keith subsequently released remixes or material derived from the film cues on a record under his name entitled 'Back to Black' I may have a copy here somewhere, if I can dig it out I'll send you whatever info I can about that as well.

Hope this info is helpful.
Jim Lang


"Two sides to every story…"

Fodderstompf: *Since posting the 2011 info, we were contacted by Shelly and Keith Levene who wanted to the make the following clear...

Shelly: Dunno how you found Jim Lang, but he's a guy in LA that I'd rented the house behind mine to and was from Kansas City, Mo, like me. I introduced Keith to him when Keith moved into my house in 1985. Otherwise they'd never have met as Jim hung with a very very straight crew. But he was a very good keyboard player and singer. Great voice. Keith tried to encourage him to sing, be in a band (not with Keith but in general) etc. Jim is very hard-headed and Germanic. He did play on ONE TRACK of the Hollywood Vice score, a very beautiful Hammond B3 part. That was his ONLY input.

He charged Keith quite a bit to use his little studio under their house in Echo Park. I remember, even at those prices, when Keith put a guitar part on a track at about 11:30 p.m. one night, Jim pitched a bitch about the sound! Other than those two incidents, Jim was never even around while Keith worked with only me around for company on this very difficult piece of work. Penelope Spheeris, who was a real pain, hated the movie and had her 2nd and 3rd ADs do the work; and acted real weird. He had only two weeks right at Christmas 1985 to do it in. He got good reviews (i.e. movie bad, Keith Levene fans will like his sound track contributions though, the best thing about the movie). Chris Spedding and Michael Convertino also contributed to that C movie, too.

As to the EmulatorII, Keith had it DOWN in about a month and had built up an incredible sound library, comprising of three trays of discs. Every sound Keith spend up to a week making. They were all very unusual and there's no one I can think of who could've emulated (no pun) them. When we went back to LA in 1984, Jim was real weird with Keith, unfriendly and odd. But he did phone keith to say "get happy I found all your EII discs" which was great news. However, when Keith wanted to pick them up Jim suddenly decided they'd been "stolen or lost". We've heard them in his music. Keith sez he doesn't care, he can make new ones anyway.

Jim Lang does the music for the cartoon "Hey! Arnold" now and has done for a very long time. We did not leave them on very friendly terms as we'd grown apart. Keith just wanted to set the record straight on this. Much of what Jim sez is true, except his level of involvement. He had absolutely nothing to do with any other record, or part of any record, Keith did. Just the B3 part on one cut of the sound track. We lived in SilverLake and Jim was ensconced in Echo Park (3-4 miles east of us) and in LA no one wants to travel. His studio was at the crest of a hill with a 45 degree angle both ways so to turn our 62 Chevy into his driveway, laden with equipment, right after this rollercoaster ride made using his studio out of the question any further. Jim loaded Keith's samples into his high end equipment and that's that.

Believe me, there's no bitterness here. I feel bad to have lost a friend due to circumstance and age; I'm sure Jim remembers things as he wrote them but both Keith (obviously) and I were there and concur regarding the above. Keith says he wants Jim to listen to the soundtrack to "HOME MOVIES"... That's his message to Jim Lang. He was adamant that you get that part. The above is merely so your site has the real news not the hazy remembrances of a guy with two kids, a mortgage and music he didn't like when I last saw him (1997). He's welcome to the EII disks and we can't do anything about it even if he WASN'T welcome to them! Ha ha ha.

Shelly da Cunha

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