USC Annenberg Ph.D. candidate Becca Johnson and editor/producer Gene Bryan Johnson are HazelEye MEDIA, a production, research and development team exploring boundary, co-opting platform and cross-pollinating genre.
Becca and Gene Bryan, daughter and father, started arguing about music and cinema as soon as a determined Baby learned to say “no.” (He wanted Bartók, She wanted Barney.) Spirited family discussions over, for example, the relative merits of Labelle’s original recording of Lady Marmalade, as compared with the remake by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink, developed into scholarly fascination coupled with fan obsession for the art and business of music, film, literature, plays, television, politics and journalism. That curiosity inspired the transmedia core of HazelEye MEDIA.
The duo’s first publicly released artistic collaboration “Hanging Upside Down on a Train” was distributed in 2009, on the sold-out limited edition cd The Pad, via Bavaria’s mysterious q-tone artists’ collective. Their 2012 collection, HazelEye and The Pad, was licensed for the Japanese market by Murmur Records/Art Union/Nature Bliss (BTW: Pad is short for padre and pronounced like pod).
- HazelEye MEDIA is developing a number of creative and scholarly projects for 2017 and beyond.
Following her muse into the corners of whatever genre fits the moment, she becomes possessed by a voice destined to reach deep into your soul. When Becca, who has degrees in music technology, advertising and communication, is not writing songs she’s a USC Annenberg Ph.D. candidate studying the art and business of popular culture. Her industry career began as a teenager in Manhattan, when she worked as a marketing intern for Advanced Alternative Media. She was also, at that time, founding co-president of the Hunter College High School psychology club, co-captain of the swim team and prolific singer/songwriter. Summers were spent studying forensic science at The University of Cambridge in England, working in Australia with Habitat for Humanity, or writing, recording and performing songs at June Millington’s Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen, Massachusetts.
After high school Becca moved to Los Angeles where she studied full time at USC while managing the national college radio promotion database for Interscope Records. Her broad experience includes a summer working as engineering assistant to a producer of acoustic analogue audiophile recordings, a semester coordinating the Direct TV account for Deutsch Advertising and an ongoing position as research assistant to the Norman Lear Center’s Popular Music Project. She co-founded HazelEye MEDIA while graduating cum laude from USC’s Annenberg School and Thornton School of Music.
The Pad, a producer/researcher studying difference among media
The Pad, aka Gene Bryan Johnson, compared theories of writing for print, stage and screen in a 2005 study “The Art of Storytelling: Finding Balance Among Medium, Message and Messenger.” He co-produced Hamlet for Radio with The New York Shakespeare Festival, edited the Harlem Radio and Photography Project, oversaw development & production of the Reel Society series of interactive educational motion pictures and studied the works of Umberto Eco, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison, Jorge Luis Borges, James Cain, Ama Ata Aidoo, Alfred Hitchcock, Sahar Khalifeh, Diane Ackerman and French avant-garde composer Pierre Schaeffer. GBJ began collaborating, in 2009, with conductor Butch Morris on a cycle of works inspired by the classic romantic tragedy Abelard and Heloise; his paper “From August Wilson to Tyler Perry: Crossing Paths on the Way to Tomorrow,” published in Continuum: the Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance, explores the history, and speculates about the future, of American Black theatre while advocating for establishment of an August Wilson Memorial Award for dramatic writing; his short story Negroes Anonymous was honored with The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award for summer 2016.
Gene Bryan, who has degrees from Columbia University, where he was a Bollinger Fellow, and New York University, where he was a Founders’ Day Scholar, is also a producer/musician who has worked with jazz composer/pianist Matthew Shipp, Island Records, composer/conductor Butch Morris, guitarist Charlie Byrd, avant-garde songwriter David Garland, David Carpin’s Shattered Records, jazz trombonist Al Grey, Wall to Wall Gershwin, improvising violinist Emily Palen, The Valence Project, Salsoul Records, Grammy award winning arranger Paul Riser, CMH Records, First Warning/RCA Records, q-tone, Murmur Records and dance music pioneer Tom Moulton.
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