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Sinners & Saints: How An Oklahoma Composer Is Fusing Rock Bands, Orchestras & Electronic Music

kittwakeley_nocoverimage.jpg
Kitt Wakeley
I'm all over the world and I can tell you, people from Oklahoma are just amazing.
Kitt Wakeley

This is No Cover, a production of KOSU and Oklahoma State University and hosted by Matthew Viriyapah.

A born and raised Oklahoman, Kitt Wakeley recorded his album remotely at the historic Abbey Road Studios in London, England. On it, he combines his love for rock drums and riffs, sweeping orchestral melodies and pulsing electronic beats. The album's title — Symphony of Sinners and Saints — is a reference to the combination of 'Sinners' in his rock band and the 'Saints' of the orchestra.

Listen above to hear more about how he has navigated his career since his start in grunge cover bands and recording radio commercial music, earning his 'street cred' in the music industry and how he recently rediscovered his sister after forty years apart.

On his southern accent and being from Oklahoma

I'll be in LA or some kind of pitch session... Like they listen to the music, and they will put down their papers they had in hand and just look at me like, 'What the hell are you doing in Oklahoma?' And I just kind of smile.

I think once they hear the music, and they get five minutes with you, you're okay. The downside is, the southern accent, it unfortunately— you have to earn your street cred. But then you get the people who have the mentality that people from the south are more sincere, maybe more honest.

Then there's other times like the Royal Philharmonic. They were all excited, and they wanted to tell me hello. This was just the string section. This was forty-seven strings. They said, 'Are you ready?'

And then, 'Howdy!'

'A' it's a curse, but 'B' I'm proud of my Oklahoma heritage.

On working with Joe Satriani

I emailed him.

One of my buddies was like, 'Kitt, just start down the list of who you would to have on your album.'

I couldn't fathom it. I emailed very well known artists of Joe's caliber on their respective instruments. Joe being so gracious opened up a whole lot more doors of other artists who wanted to play on my project.

I was just in awe. His technique is so clean. It's immaculate.

So when I was listening to ["Conflicted"], I was like, 'oh my gosh.' He played what he needed to play. He got out of the way of the orchestra when they needed to say something.

I think my thing was that it was affirmation. Joe was very complimentary of my music. An amazing guy, forget the fact that he's Joe Satriani, he's just an amazing guy.

On recording remotely in London from Edmond, Oklahoma

Most of your meetings are over Zoom. But when it comes to the actual recording, Abbey has a technology so that when they start to record at 10 am that morning, which is six hours later than us.

I turn on a screen, and they have different monitor views. And if I click on one monitor it means I'm speaking to the orchestra, if click on another I'm speaking to the conductor's headset or another to the engineering room. And then I get to see everything taking place live on a Pro Tools section. And it is so forensic and accurate, I can literally go back to this point in the track — it's flawless.

Music featured in this episode:

  1. Kitt Wakeley - Wicked Ways
  2. Mötley Crüe - Wild Side
  3. Nirvana - Lithium
  4. Radiohead - Creep
  5. Kitt Wakeley - Echoes of Amadeus
  6. Falco - Rock Me Amadeus
  7. Bill Conti - Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)
  8. Kitt Wakeley - Hello Again
  9. Kitt Wakeley ft. Joe Satriani - Conflicted
  10. Kitt Wakeley - Requiem of the Fallen
  11. Kitt Wakeley - Sinners and Saints

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Matthew Viriyapah is KOSU's production assistant and host of the podcast, No Cover. He initially came to the station as a production intern in May 2019.
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