January 2021 - Steven M. Martin (part 1)

The January 2021 episode of the Theremin 30 Podcast features music from Finland, Germany, and Iceland. Rick's interview guest is documentary filmmaker Steven M. Martin.

▶️ Listen to this episode on Spotify.


  • "Reiseziel Mond" (edit) - Michael Brückner & Detlev Everling (Germany)
  • "Tvö þrjú Slit" - Hekla (Reykjavík, Iceland)
  • "Nowhere" - Kepa Lehtinen (Helsinki, Finland)

    *The full-length recordings featured in this show were used with the knowledge and permission of the artists and composers. Please support the artists by visiting their websites, purchasing their recordings, and attending their performances.







Copyright 2021 Rick Reid 



Please note: This is a machine-generated transcript that has not been manually edited. There will be numerous errors. Check back soon for a corrected version.

David Brower  0:04  
This is there have been 3030 minutes of ceremonies, news events and interviews with a new episode about every 30 days. Now here's your host from Denver, Colorado, USA, Rick Reid.

Rick Reid  0:20  
Hey there, welcome to Theremin 30 the monthly podcast dedicated to all things Theremin if you're keeping score at home this is episode number 21 for January 2021. This month I've got Theremin music from Finland, Germany and Iceland. And my very special interview guest is Steven m Martin. He made the award winning 1994 documentary, Theremin and electronic Odyssey. Now way back in the very first episode of Theremin 30 I played a recording by German multi instrumentalist and Detlef everlink. He's back with a brand new double album called rights at seal moon, which Google tells me means destination moon. It's a collaboration with Michael Bruckner and a studio recreation of a live concert that duo performed in 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, the title track of the album is a bit too long to fit into the show in its entirety. But here is a fairly long edit

Rick Reid  9:28  
We started the show with lush and spacey electronic music from Detlef everlink and Michael Brookner from their new double album rise ID seal mooned, you can listen to the full nearly 10 minute long track and the rest of the album on Bandcamp click on the artists names and this month show notes to get there. Let's take a quick look now at the calendar of Theremin events. Even though the pandemic has brought a temporary end to live concerts, there are still some noteworthy events to enjoy via the web door at Chrysler. Whoa, whoa Today of online Theremin workshops on Saturday January 30, Lydia cabinet continues her online workshops on most Sunday evenings. Shelly Owen has a new season of her weekly music and chat shows live from Nashville on YouTube. And Yoko Onishi hosts a monthly YouTube Theremin resettle from her own Theremin museum near Yokohama, Japan. For all the details, you can check out the calendar anytime at calendar dot Theremin thirty.com. And send me a message if you have an event you'd like me to list on the calendar. later in the show. I've got Theremin music from hekla his most recent album, and a new single from kepa LinkedIn. But first right after this break, I'll visit with documentary filmmaker Steven M. Martin, so stay tuned.

Rick Reid  11:08  
I am thrilled to have as my guest this month Steven m Martin. Stephen is the writer, producer, director of Theremin and electronic Odyssey. It's a wonderful documentary that I had the privilege of seeing at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival. I'm sure you know that this film sparked a worldwide revival of interest in Theremin and Theremin music. And this podcast wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for me seeing that film back in 94. I recently spoke with Stephen by telephone from his home in Culver City, California. Here is part one of our interview. Steven Martin, thank you so much for being on the Theremin 30 podcast.

Steven M. Martin  11:46  
Hi, Rick. Thanks for having me. Nice to be here.

Rick Reid  11:49  
I saw your film at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994 in January, and I can't remember exactly what night it was if it was the premiere night or if it was another screening. But I remember driving from Salt Lake City to Park City where the festival is held a moose crossed the freeway, I was far enough away that I wasn't at risk of hitting it. But I was close enough that I will always remember it. And seeing your film had a very similar effect on me. I will always remember seeing it the first time

Steven M. Martin  12:19  
Yeah, you can only see something for the first time once. And Sundance was a revelation for me. Because when you finish something, I don't care if it's a movie or a piece of music or a book or whatever, and you send it out into the world. You think it's gonna work, but you never really know how people are going to react. So when I headed up to Sundance, all I was hoping was that people wouldn't do it. I knew that I loved the Sara man. I thought it was an interesting story. I was passionate about it. But I thought what if people just don't get it?

Rick Reid  12:58  
I went to the screening at Sundance because I saw a little blurb about it in the local newspaper in Salt Lake. And I was vaguely familiar with airman's, I knew the sound of them from the movies, I'd seen a picture once had a vague concept of what they were, but not much. So I was fascinated to find out exactly what these things were because I was interested in electronic music. And I was fascinated with not just the instrument, but the story of the people involved. And I can remember sitting in the theater and just feeling chills,

Steven M. Martin  13:31  
I was sitting in the back of the room biting my nails, because once again, I just didn't want people to boo the movie. And it's really tough sitting in a theater and waiting for people to go this thing. And so I'm sitting there in the back of the theater. And I hear the sound of sort of sniffling sound throughout the theater at one point, and I was going like, Oh my god, what's that? You know,

Rick Reid  13:57  
it was people were crying. And then people were laughing at other parts of the movie and the audience just connect in such a strong way. And I could feel it in the whole room.

Steven M. Martin  14:06  
There was a big surprise that people really liked it and received a very good reaction and response from the audience's.

Rick Reid  14:14  
And it got an award to as I recall,

Steven M. Martin  14:16  
yes, it got the filmmakers trophy, which is where all the other filmmakers who had films there that year voted on what they thought was the best film. And that was mine.

Rick Reid  14:27  
What motivated you to make Theremin in electronic Odyssey?

Steven M. Martin  14:31  
Well, I had written a screenplay for a dramatic film based on the book on assigned territory by Tim Nunn, he and I wrote the screenplay together, which took place out in the desert, and I wanted a theramin on the soundtrack for this dreaming night sequence where we drift across the desert. And so I started looking for someone that could play the Theremin. And like you I had a I had an idea of what the sermon was. And I wasn't sure if I'd ever seen one being played, but I certainly knew the sound. I loved the sound. And I loved electronic music. And I checked with the local musicians union and there was no one that played the saram in there and I just made some calls around and no one knew really much about the Theremin. I knew Bob mug and made sermons, but I certainly didn't know Bob mug. So I happen to mention it to my attorney. And she said, Oh, don't talk to me about the Theremin. I said, you know what it is? Yeah. She said, My mother's best friend is the world's greatest saram. And I said, You got to be kidding. And she said, No. And I said, we got introduced me to her. And she said no, to anything.

Steven M. Martin  15:43  
So I ran into my attorney's mother at a New Year's party and managed to garner an invitation to tea with Clara rockmore and went up and had tea with Clara and her best friend, my attorneys mother, Mildred trout and the wife of the Broadway impresario and asked her to play the theramin in the movie I was planning on making and she said no, she was retired. She wasn't interested. She let me play her Theremin. So I had never really seen one. And here I was in the salon of the world's greatest Theremin player with her Theremin there with the diamond performance speaker and she showed me how it worked. And let me play it and she said it's not working correctly. And while we're having tea, we were talking about the theramin and Professor Theremin who I had researched a little bit and all the history books said he was dead, you know he'd been killed. And she told me that Salman was still alive in Moscow, and also told me in the course of this tea that a very young Robert Mogae had come to visit her and asked her to play his Thurman's when he was first building them in the early 1950s. And I was sitting there and like a light bulb went on over my head, and I just went, wait a minute, you've got the Theremin, then you've got science fiction movies, then you've got good vibrations. Then you've got the mogh synthesizer. Then you have the electronic music revolution. Oh my god, this is the connecting tissue of everything. There's a complete through line. This is the history of 20th century music. Because I believe, and I believed for a long time that hundreds of years from now, 1000 years from now, when people study the music of the 20th century, it will be the century that music became electrified, that the laws of acoustics were broken for the first time that you can hold a note forever, and you had sort of unparalleled control over sound and what type of sounds and how they were manipulated. So I said to her, maybe it was a strong Russian tea, but I said, Look, forget the film that I came to talk to you about, I want to make a film about you. And she said, Now I'm retired, like go away. And I said, if you don't work on this film with me, then all the work that you've done will be lost when you're no longer around. And I said, I'll go to Moscow, and I'll find salmon. And I'll bring him back to New York. And she said, I don't know if that's possible. And I said I'll do it. And she looked at Mildred trout with this sort of get him out of here look. So I thanked her for having me for tea. And as I was leaving, she stopped me and put a little hand on my arm and she was tiny. She was like a bird. And she looked up at me and she said, Would you do a good job? And I said, Yes. She said, Let me think about it. And she said, but you can't fill me anyway, because the instrument isn't working properly. This was her custom instrument built by Professor Theremin. So I said, Well, let me think about it. So I opened up a dialogue with her. And I called her on the phone and said, What if I can get your instrument working? Would you then let me film you? And she said, sure. But who are you going to get to fix this thing? It's one of a kind. And I said, What about Robert mug? And she said mug? Why would he want to work on this? And I said, Let me see what I can do. So I called Bob mug and asked him if I could hire him to come up to New York and repair Clara rock, Maurice Theremin. And there was complete silence on the other end of the phone. And then he finally said very softly wanted to look inside that thing. She would never let me take a look. And he said sure. So I paid him to come up to New York and he completely restored Claire's Theremin. Before I knew it, I was walking down the street thinking, oh my god, I just promised this little old Russian woman that not only am I going to make a film about her life, but I'm going to go to the Soviet Union and find a scientist that everyone thinks is dead in Then bring them back to New York. Good going. Anyway, that's sort of the long answer of how I got into this.

Rick Reid  20:06  
I'm curious about what your background was in filmmaking that had prepared you to take on this big project.

Steven M. Martin  20:12  
While it didn't seem like a big project at the time, and I sort of thought it would be an interesting side project while I was getting the other project going, that this would be an adjunct to the feature film, I was planning. I didn't come out of documentaries. I came out of feature films. My first job was working for Francis Copeland zoetrope studios as a junior executive. And then I worked for Paula Weinstein and I started making music videos with my brother, and I worked for David Lynch. I had a background in music from making music videos, and from being friends with musicians who were also electronic musicians like DeVos old friends from our salad days. So I was grounded in the history and I knew what I wanted to do with music. Now, I'd never made a documentary. Right. So I wasn't looking at this in terms of how I'll structure like this documentary or that documentary. I saw, you know, the three act story arc of a dramatic film and it was just really plugging in the pieces. Of course, I didn't know all the details. At first, I had no idea that loves her Gammage. I've worked for the KGB, a no idea you learn as you go. Right? So bot mode taught me a lot. Nicholas leninsky filled me in so I was becoming more knowledgeable as I went on. That seemed like a really cool thing to do. It was like finding out that Tesla was still alive right.

Rick Reid  21:51  
I'll play more of my interview with Steven M. Martin. In the February episode of Theremin 30 will discuss his experience of meeting Leon Theremin, the legacy of the documentary and the work he's doing on a possible rerelease of Theremin and electronic Odyssey. We'll wrap up this episode with more great Theremin music coming up so stick around.

Rick Reid  22:35  
Let's finish the show now with two ethereal songs recorded Way up north. First we'll hear Icelandic recording artists hecla from her haunting 2020 album stronger which translates to English as cracks like cracks in the ice. The track I'm going to play is called to viff ruse lit it translates into English as two three slit. After that I'll play nowhere. It's a brand new single from Helsinki, Finland based soundtrack composer keppa liftin 

Rick Reid  28:58  
We're just about out of time so this is a good time for me to say thank you to Detlef ever Ling and Michael Bruckner, hekla and kept lifting and for sharing their music, and special thanks to Steven M. Martin. I'll have more of my interview with Steven in the February episode, plus more great Theremin music from around the world. In the meantime, please visit the Theremin 30 website for links to more information about all the artists and interview guests who have appeared on this show, visit their websites by their music and support their streaming events. The covid 19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for performing artists. So every little bit of support you can give them helps. Until next time, I'm your host, Rick Reid, where a mask whenever you leave home and keep other people out of your control zone.

David Brower  29:50  
You've been listening to the Theremin 30 podcast visit Theremin 30 on the web at Theremin three zero.com