By Jeff Kronenfeld. Photos courtesy of YabYum Music + Arts
Confessions from the Nocturne Nebula, a podcast produced by YabYum Music and Arts, is celebrating the release of its fourth installment with the Retro-Futurist Dance Party event at Rips Bar on Saturday, October 26.
A little like Casablanca meets Deep Space Nine, the audio drama boasts a talented cast of 23 and an evocative original score. Carly Schorman and Dale Rasmussen wrote the script, drawing inspiration from authors like Dashiell Hammett, Douglas Adams, and classic radio dramas. Unfolding in six-parts, episode one premiered October 5, with a new release weekly through November 9. The Retro-Futurist Dance Party offers fans a chance to meet the cast and crew while listening to musical guests DaDoh + the POC, Fairy Bones, The Echo Bombs, and JJCnV.
YabYum, an online publication based out of Tempe, has covered music, arts and more since 2009. The site established itself as a crucial nexus for local creatives over that decade. It expanded coverage in 2016, adding stories from across the globe.
Schorman is YabYum’s founder and editor-in-chief. When not writing for the site, she pens fiction and other creative projects. Though YabYum had no experience hosting podcasts when Confessions was initially conceived two years ago, they currently produce four.
Schorman described herself as a “big science-fiction nerd.” Her love of the genre and desire to explore new mediums led to the initial idea for Confessions. Almost immediately she thought of partnering with longtime friend Rasmussen because of his love for old detective stories. He dove in with both feet forward. Weekends saw Rasmussen crash at the “art commune,” where Schorman then lived as they developed the story and wrote the script. “There was a lot of arguing in the backyard, writing, reading, and then more fighting,” she recalled with a laugh. “That went on for six months. Then, we went into casting.”
Rasmussen and Schorman were unsure what response their call for voice actors would get.
Early on, people filled gaps by wearing more than one hat. Schorman also served as executive producer and Rasmussen as director and actor. His singsong baritone proved well suited to the frequent monologues of Nolan Stone, the protagonist of Confessions. Stone owns a bar/nightclub/brothel in a massive space station where the story is set. “At least we knew even if nobody auditioned, we already had a lead,” Schorman said.
Audition slots quickly filled. Austin Campbell was cast as Zarah, the mysterious and seductive madam. Anna Katen portrayed Cherry Cordial, an upwardly mobile courtesan and femme fatale. Shawn Collins, who also performs in Friday the 13th: The Parody Musical at the Phoenix Puppet Theater, portrayed a lawman. Playwright Ashley Naftule, comedian Amy Blackwell and over a dozen others lent their voices as well.
Devin Morris created the original score, which Schorman described as a character in its own right. He also served as an audio engineer. Mark Anderson worked with Morris, as well as being an executive producer and lending his pipes as a saxophonist. All together they form a troupe of characters who — by the end of episode one’s one hour and twenty-five minutes run time — will draw you in like a planet’s gravity well capturing a passing asteroid.
While Schorman loved making Confessions, she doesn’t foresee future installments after the sixth episode airs next month. However, she said YabYum’s next audio drama is already written and in the works. Much of the cast and crew from Confessions are reuniting on that project.
For listeners interested in a peek behind the speakers, the podcast Limited Engagement offers four episodes of candid conversations with the creative team behind Confessions from the Nocturne Nebula. While you can’t hobnob with the Nebula’s most nefarious on Aldfar Station, if you close your eyes at Rips Bar this Saturday, you might just hear voices from out of this world.
The Retro-Futurist Dance Party starts at 8 p.m. at Rips Bar, 3045 N. 16th Street, in Phoenix. Listen to Confessions from the Nocturne Nebula at YabYum Music + Arts.