Monday, February 20, 2012
Thanks for joining us on our first 19 questions Blog! This month we have an interview with the smart, funny and artistic Christine McKinley. Christine is one of the investigators on Brad Meltzer’s Decoded airing on this History Channel. What you may not know is that Christine is also a singer/song writer. Her recent release is “Gracie And The Atom”. It’s the soundtrack to her musical she wrote by the same name. We hope you enjoy this interview and join us for them every month!
ZIA : Your current record “Gracie and the Atom” is about a young girl who is placed in a Catholic High School after losing her father and has to deal with a whole new environment as well as looking for answers about her journey in many different places and through many different influences. Where did the inspiration for this come from? Did you know a Gracie?
CM : I took pieces of my own life and moved them around to make Gracie. My family moved from Alaska to California and enrolled me in Catholic high school when I was 14, so I learned about science the same time I was studying the Bible. When I was in college, my dad died in an accident and I really wrestled with all I knew about the conservation of energy, Einstein’s non-linear time, and how death might fit into that. I was pissed off and looking for answers, like Gracie.
ZIA : You wrote this as a play as well correct?
CM : Yes, I really just meant to write a series of songs that told a story, like Aimee Mann’s “The Forgotten Arm.” I began to write out Gracie’s story so that the songs would be clearer to me. One night, a friend said, “Why don’t you just admit that you’re writing a musical.”
A musical about science – how much more of a geek could I become? I surrendered to it.
ZIA : You and Gracie both went to a Catholic High School; this had to have influenced your writing on all your records we would assume. Does that experience bleed into the work on a subconscious level or is it pre meditated?
CM : Wow, good question. I’m pretty sure it’s an uncontrolled bleeding. The spiritual stuff in Catholic school was a lot of fun for me partly because I had no religious background at all. I found it really odd and sweet that people believed in what sounded like fairy tales. I’d look around me when we’d read something in the New Testament about the virgin birth or Jesus walking on the water and everyone would be completely on board. The concept of faith is still so fascinating to me because of that. They told me it’s a gift. You either have faith or you don’t. Somewhere along the way I was given the gift of faith in science, not in Jesus. Hey, it’s not polite to refuse a gift. I’ll take it. The best thing about Catholic school is that the Sisters of St. Joseph were so devoted to the girls there. They wanted us to be strong, smart, soulful women. What a great message to give a girl.
ZIA : We also heard a rumor that you took a bicycle trip through Israel by yourself? That had to be an amazing experience! Can you tell us what that was like?
CM :Well, I don’t recommend it. I was going out of my head about my dad’s death. He’d worked in Israel and really loved it, so I wanted to go there. You see everything on a bicycle, smell the exhaust, the trees, get rained on and sunburned. I rode from Nazareth straight down through the West Bank and got into a little trouble. Some Israeli soldiers in a jeep found me and made me follow them out. The funny thing is, I went right back in from a different direction. I’m older and smarter now.
ZIA : Has there been a 12 month stretch without an Israeli bike trip or a brief incarceration for trespassing or midnight clandestine discussion with a clansman who has knowledge of the vault behind Rushmore since you graduated?
CM : Ummm…not that I can think of.
ZIA : Is it hard to find time to write with your insane schedule?
CM : Writing is brutal and mostly unrewarding. If I could stop, I would but I continue to write in hotel rooms, on planes, in vans waiting to shoot scenes, in bed when I should be sleeping, and in the ER waiting room. Anyone who is compelled to write will find a way to do it. I even got a little guitar that fit in my suitcase so I could keep writing songs on the road.
ZIA : When can we expect a new album?
CM : Depends on what DECODED does. I have a real job as an engineer that is more than full time, so it’s just a matter of finding enough time to get back in the studio.
I am working on a musical with two friends. We’re hoping to have a workshop in February in NYC. It’s about the “war of currents” between Edison and Tesla. Brutal stuff – electrocutions, libel, fires… These guys were out of their minds. We didn’t have to make anything up.
ZIA : Who are some of the Artists that influence you?
CM : Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Rickie Lee Jones, The Beatles, Andrew Lloyd Webber
ZIA : What about books? Who are some of your favorite authors?
CM : Rilke – his poems and his “Letters to a Young Poet” still get me all worked up. Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath were important to me when I was younger, also T.S Eliot and William Carlos Williams. They made me want to use words carefully and sparingly.
I can read J.D. Salinger’s short stories over and over. I also read a lot of books about modern physics, quantum theory, etc… Oh yeah, I’m fun on a date. That’s all I want to talk about.
ZIA : Now let’s talk some De-Coded! We are huge fans here at Zia Records! How did you get on the show?
CM : It was such a random route. I saw an ad on Craigslist in the engineering section. Discovery Channel was looking for an engineer for a technical show. I submitted a video, got invited to an audition, and didn’t get the gig. It was for “Build It Bigger.” Then Discovery asked me to do a pilot called “Under New York” which aired right as I moved to Los Angeles for an engineering/construction job. Since I didn’t (still don’t) have a TV, I went to a friend’s house to watch it. A week after that, the same friend told me about DECODED auditions and I was invited to them.
ZIA : We always wonder about the production time. How long does one episode take to film?
CM : It takes about a week. We shoot SO much that isn’t aired. Then I see comments from viewers like, “Why didn’t you ask about the Russian spy planes?” I yell at my computer screen, “We did! We did!” But not everything ends up in the show.
ZIA : If you’re all ready in Europe, can you film two at the same time if they both have a European destination?
CM : Yes. We tried to shoot scenes from different episodes in the same location. We thought it would be confusing to shoot but it really wasn’t. It gave us time to think (obsess) about each topic a bit more than season one.
ZIA : Some of the favorites here where the Bohemian Grove episode (where you ended up in handcuffs) and the Rushmore episode. What have been your favorites?
CM : Well, Bohemian Grove was my favorite because I’m now dating one of the men involved with my arrest. Turned out pretty well for me. Best “how I met my boyfriend” story EVER. (We’ve heard every handcuff joke.)
For content, my favorite was the Georgia Guidestones. We talked to a woman who is a Rosicrucian and she was the coolest, most reasonable religious person ever.
ZIA : Who decides what topics to cover? Is it Brad’s decision or a group thing?
CM : The production company pitches subjects to History Channel and they approve them, or not. Some come from Brad and his cabal of powerful friends.
ZIA : Has there been a topic that you guys started to work on and then backed off? Is there a conspiracy within the conspiracy? LOL
CM : Nikola Tesla and HAARP seem to be off limits, as does nuclear power.
Also, there was an episode in which we had a collective change of opinion at the end.
ZIA : IS Brad an actual person or is he a digital construct created by the New World Order to throw us off the trail?
CM : He’s very real, also very funny and kind of a potty mouth.
ZIA : As Season 2 wraps up what can we expect from Season 3? Just a taste! A clue!
CM : I haven’t heard anything about a season 3. It was a great experience, but I’d be happy to have my summer back. I have a real career as an engineer, some other projects in the works, and it would be fun to have a life again.
ZIA : Final question about De-Coded: Will Brad ever join you guys in the field?
CM : I hope not. Given that he is a high-level member of the Illuminati, the ring kissing and bowing would cut into our schedule significantly.
ZIA : What does the future hold for Christine McKinley?
CM : I’m writing a book about how physics applies to daily life: stage dives, dating, arson…that kind of thing. I intend to write songs for each physics concept covered as well. Basically, I’m always looking for ways to be more of a gigantic dork.
Posted by Zia Records Blogs at 4:24 PM