The man behind the man behind the Moog synthesizer

Over the course of a year, the documentary was filmed on location at Moog's home in Asheville, North Carolina, plus New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo and London. Also, for the purpose of shooting the film, Page coordinated two Moog Fest concerts: one in San Francisco with performances by newer artists using Moog synthesizers, including Meat Beat Manifesto, Money Mark with Mixmaster Mike, and the Album Leaf; and one in New York featuring masters of the Moog like Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Bernie Worrell.

"Everybody loves Bob," Page says, so it was pretty easy to get musicians to participate in the film. "But the person that we wanted most in the whole film, we didn't get, and that's Wendy Carlos, who did Clockwork Orange and Switched-On Bach. We couldn't even use archive footage. But she popularized Moog instruments," he says of the elusive artist whose electronic renditions of classical music were all the rage in the late '60s. "No doubt about it."

That said, Page is still pleased with the end results. Music has always been one of his loves, and he especially got his "fix" working on the soundtracks to Frontier Life and Moog. "What's strange is that I started working on the [Moog] soundtrack simultaneously with starting the film, which is unusual. I selected who I wanted exactly, and they all said yes except for two people. I wanted to get Herbie Hancock on there, and Stevie Wonder I was never able to reach. He never said no, but it's hard to get to Stevie Wonder."

C'mon, Moog: Ryan Page's latesy production is making waves everywhere but his hometown.
Jeff Newton
C'mon, Moog: Ryan Page's latesy production is making waves everywhere but his hometown.

The soundtrack really holds its own, with 17 original songs from artists including Stereolab, Charlie Clouser, and Tortoise. From beginning to end, the album represents the wild palette of sounds that the Moog synthesizer produces, from quirky pop and spacy funk to dark techno and skittery experimental stuff. Page says one of the tracks he's most excited about is Jean-Jacques Perrey and Luke Vibert's "You Moog Me," a midtempo groove driven by the instrument's deep, sexy tones and punctuated by its high-pitched squelches. "Jean-Jacques Perrey is one of the original Moog masters," Page says. "It's cool to see a guy from that generation work with Luke Vibert, who's now."

With such a buzzworthy film under his belt, Page is riding the inevitable wave of publicity and logging lots of frequent-flier miles. At the same time, he and his wife, Katy, along with six-month-old son Jack, are settling back into life in Phoenix after years out of state, spending time with friends and family since their move from San Diego a month and a half ago.

Page left town when he graduated from Horizon High School in north Scottsdale in 1993. Not long before that, he and a friend sent actor Crispin Glover a screenplay that they co-wrote, called A Single Bound, about a group of people obsessed with a thrift-store VCR. To their surprise, Glover read the script and called them up. "He said he really liked the film and he wanted to do it so long as he could make everyone in the film have Down syndrome," Page says, "and I said that sounds fine, and I moved to L.A. pretty much then and there."

Page moved into Glover's mansion and ended up producing What Is It?, a prequel to A Single Bound that Glover wrote. It was supposed to be part of a Down syndrome trilogy, but after four years of shooting, it still wasn't finished. Page says that he parted ways with Glover at that point and moved to San Diego, where his career in documentary film started moving forward.

Now primarily based in Phoenix, Page is continuing to work with Fjellestad, who's still in San Diego, but he also just started Sun Royal Film + Music with local musician Pete DeVriese, whom he's known since high school.

"He's done music in everything I've ever done, except What Is It?. Even my short films in high school," Page says of DeVriese. With Page as producer and sometime director, and DeVriese handling music and occasionally co-producing, the two will specialize in documentaries, commercials, and even music videos. Their current project, with local director Randy Murray, is an in-depth documentary on Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that's bound to attract national attention as well as local interest.

No word yet on whether it'll make it to Phoenix theaters.

E-mail, or call 602- 229-8497.

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