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Liz Phair helps set the musical mood for ‘Swingtown’

Liz Phair: Fifteen Years in “Guyville”

15 Years Later, Liz Phair Revisits Guyville

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he barbecues of Winnetka were buzzing about “Swingtown” over the Memorial Day weekend.

By Maureen Ryan
Chicago Tribune, June 1, 2008

The barbecues of Winnetka were buzzing about “Swingtown” over the Memorial Day weekend.

According to Mike Kelley’s longtime friend and New Trier classmate, musician Liz Phair, some Winnetka residents were comparing notes about the pockets of swingers that allegedly existed in the town decades ago.

“I don’t know how organized it was, but there’s this sense that there was some swapping of partners,” says Phair, who, with her music partners Evan Frankfurt and Doc Dauer, created the instrumental score for “Swingtown”.

“For my parents, they’re just like, ‘What?'” Phair said. “We all thought it happened in Lake Forest.”

Though she doesn’t recall any partner-swapping, Phair (who’s pictured in the middle at right, with Kelley and cast member Miriam Shor) said the rest of of “Swingtown” was very “evocative” of her younger years. She jumped at the chance to contribute to the music for the show with her musical partners, Evan Frankfurt and Doc Dauer, who create the show’s score together.

It’s the first time she’s worked as a composer, but she’s enjoying it, she said.

“I never could have done it without Evan and Doc. There’s a lot of technical stuff that I still don’t know,” Phair said. Though all three create the music together, she focuses on the non-technical aspects. Creating the score is “all tied up in the emotional changes of the characters for me.”

The show’s soundtrack is full of well-known pop and rock hits from the ’70s, so Phair and her partners try not to overdo the wah-wah guitar sounds and other Me Decade musical hallmarks.

“I’m cannibalizing a lot of the songs I’m writing now, and I’ll go in and rip off some three-chord thing from a song I’ve written before,” Phair said. “It comes out sounding totally different and it’s a lot of fun.”

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