Martyn Zub Interview: ‘Beastie Boys Story’ sound
Working on “Beastie Boys Story” as a sound mixer and editor did make Martyn Zub a little nervous. He had been a fan of the band for a long time but this job actually gave him the chance to meet and work with them. But those fears quickly subsided when he started working with surviving members, Michael “Mike D.” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz. “They were the coolest cats you could possibly meet; so low key and casual. That was a bit of a relief because I’m always nervous when you meet your idols and they don’t turn out to be what you expected them to be,” says Zub in our recent webchat (watch the video here). The same feelings also extended to the film’s director, Spike Jonze, who Zub had also been a longtime fan of.
“Beastie Boys Story” is a live stage show that Mike D. and Ad-Rock did where they told the story of how the band came to be and their journey from seemingly out-of-control frat boys to pioneers in hip-hop. The film also serves as a remembrance for Adam “MCA” Yauch, who passed away in 2012 after being diagnosed with cancer a few years earlier. Zub earned two Emmy nominations for his work on the film, the first of his career, in the categories of Best Nonfiction/Reality Sound Mixing and Best Nonfiction/Reality Sound Editing.
Doing the sound work this project was a very daunting task as the theater where the performance was recorded had around 70-80 live microphones recording at a time. Says Zub, “If you play 80 mics at the same time, it just feels like noise. A lot of the time, we had to go through and edit… a lot of the microphones, so when we do hear a crowd reaction, it’s a natural crowd reaction.” There were also some difficulties with not being able to use certain playback tracks since they weren’t as clean as the original album recordings. “It was a bit of a challenge just wrangling the material, the data and the quick turnaround as well”
Getting nominated for not just one, but two Emmys came as a huge shock to Zub. “I wasn’t aware that the nominations had come out that morning and then a friend texted me and said, ‘Hey. Congratulations!’ I had to text him back saying, ‘Not to be rude but what’s the congratulations for?’ He said, ‘You’ve been nominated for two Emmys!’” Zub then contacted his team of fellow sound designers. “It’s humbling and it’s nice that your peers actually acknowledge the hard work that you’ve done is actually sounding great and people are actually listening to it.”