‘Soundbreaking’ documentary series premiering at SXSW

Visitors to South by Southwest (SXSW) this week will be the first to get a sneak peek at Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music, an upcoming eight-episode series from US broadcaster PBS that explores the impact of recorded music on the modern world.

The series, which was produced and directed by Award-winning filmmakers Maro Chermayeff and Jeff Dupre in association with Sir George Martin, who passed away last week, combines ‘unprecedented access’ to some of the world’s most celebrated music producers and artists, with rare archival studio footage and an extensive musical soundtrack. Its aim is to deliver ‘one of the most wide-ranging series on the art of music recording.’

The first two of its eight one-hour episodes are premiering at SXSW in Austin, Texas with screenings on 14, 16 and 17 March as part of the event’s ’24 Beats Per Second’ line-up. Charting a century’s worth of innovation and experimentation in the creation of music, Soundbreaking offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of brand new sounds. From the invention of the microphone to the Moog synth, Soundbreaking moves between past and present to tell the stories behind the sounds, and reveals how innovation redefined not only what we listen to and how we listen to it, but our very sense of what music is and can be, PBS says. 

The series features over 150 exclusive and original interviews with the likes of Rick Rubin, Tony Visconti, Nigel Godrich, Paul Epworth, Don Was and some of the biggest names from the other side of the studio glass. 

“It took a wonderful team of highly seasoned producers many years to create this special and utterly unique series that we know the PBS audience will love,” said Chermayeff. “With access to rare material from the vast music archives of major and independent record labels as well as special archival sources and collections, including some never publicly seen behind-the-scenes footage, this series breaks new ground and is frankly just incredibly fun to watch.”

David Langstaff, founder of Higher Ground, the show’s creator, added: “Sir George Martin was the inspiration and intellectual force behind the Soundbreaking project. He was involved with all phases of the project and was immensely proud of the way these great stories were being told. The fact that so many extraordinary singers, songwriters, producers, and other artists came together to tell their stories is a testament to the respect and love they hold for Sir George, and the widespread recognition of his impact on the evolution of recorded music.”

Stories covered throughout the series include: How Sir George Martin and The Beatles’ groundbreaking work in the studio created a new paradigm for pop music; Phil Spector’s rise as the first ‘rock star producer’ and Paul Epworth’s collaboration with Adele on Rolling in the Deep.

Soundbreaking will broadcast on PBS stations weekdays from 14-23 November 2016. 

A trailer for the show can be seen below:

Picture courtesy of Sony Music Archives