Photograph by Benjamin Rasmussen
For the first time, we’ve dedicated an issue to one topic: Sound. We reached out to a bunch of writers and photographers and asked, “What do California and the West sound like right now?” As you’ll discover, they came back with an incredible variety of stories.
They met L.A. musicians just starting to hit big and traveled deep into the woods to learn about soundscape ecology. They visited Bay Area tech and design companies figuring out what cars and homes and toys will sound like in the future and spent time with inmates producing the first podcast from prison. They spoke with scientists lowering microphones into the Pacific Ocean and artists who make sound effects for television and film. And more — so much more that our creative director Leo Jung set aside our usual issue design and created something new. Our sound issue is presented in three acts, each with its own table of contents, beginning with our quietest stories and ending with our loudest ones.
Sound is fascinating, and it’s a way into so many different kinds of stories. But we worried that a print issue dedicated to sound might be a bit … quiet? So, throughout the issue, you’ll see audio footnotes so you can play the sounds you’re reading about.
One more thing. To accompany the release of this issue, our editors teamed up with the producers of our live series, Pop-Up Magazine, and the music-festival producers Noise Pop to create a sound-themed “live magazine” show at the magical, monumental Greek Theatre in Berkeley. The show, on September 30 (tickets available here) features a collection of new multimedia stories about the sounds of California and the West performed by writers, radio producers, photographers, filmmakers, and illustrators, alongside musical performances.
We hope you enjoy all of this as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you.
Preserving the Quietest Places By Ashley PowersThe App That Puts You to Sleep By Bonnie TsuiEating With Your Ears By Rebecca Flint MarxKendrick Lamar’s Five Rules By Kit RachlisSilence, Please, I’m Healing By Margaret WapplerThe Rumble Underground By Felicia Luna LemusThe Deaf Stars of Musical Theater By Rae VottaThe Violin Master By Abe StreepA Hundred Million Lip-Syncing Preteens By Lindsey Weber
Pop Stars in Training By Devon MaloneyPodcasting from Prison By Annie BrownHollywood Voice Lessons By Carina ChocanoFaking It Photographs By Stephanie GonotSaturday Night Out Photographs By Elle Pérez and Michael SchmellingWhen Toys Talk (And Listen) By Lauren SmileyBeing Boogie By Jeff Weiss“A Lot of People Would Call It a Sexy Voice” By Lauren BansMTV News is Back By Douglas McGrayBuilding Your Sonic Brand By Jack HittCalifornia Sounds Like… Illustration by David Galletly
Listening for Gunshots By Brooke JarvisLet’s Make Some Noise! By Paul WachterThis Sound is Killing You By Erin BibaThe Auctioneer’s Chant By Jeremy LybargerFish are Loud By Erin BibaThe Foghorn By Rebecca SolnitDefend and Protect By Nora N. KhanDesigning a Dragon Roar By Sophia KercherThe Phantom Shriek of Forest Grove By Taylor ClarkSoy el Compa Negro By Eric SteuerThe Loudest Competition on Earth By Tom ColliganHarvey Milk’s Megaphone By Wendy MacNaughton
Photographs by Tabitha Soren