Arts & CultureCampus & City

From “dicking around” to dream job

Joe Viszmeg has only one tattoo — a black rectangle on the inside of his thumb. For the same reason some people tie a string to their finger to remember things, Viszmeg began drawing a square on his thumb with a Sharpie as a reminder to “push (himself) at the gym or grab milk at the grocery store.”

“I figured I should just get it done,” he says. At least he remembered to get the tattoo.

At 23 years old, Viszmeg has carved a name for himself on the technical side of Edmonton’s entertainment circuit as an audio engineer and boom operator. By working on a diverse range of projects — from documentaries about mushrooms to reality TV — he has earned the attention of entertainment giants like Vice Canada and Warner Bros. Studios, despite having entered the industry less than two years ago.

“I’m insanely lucky,” Viszmeg says of his career. “I’ve never left a casino without winning money. I’ve never been caught by the police … not that I would, for any reason.”

After a few years of “dicking around” after high school as a bartender at The Sugarbowl, Viszmeg was accepted into his top-choice postsecondary, the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology. After receiving his diploma, he returned to Edmonton and began working as “the mixer, the boom operator, the utility guy … and the driver of the RV” for a Vice documentary called “Shroom Boom” based in the Northwest Territories. Since then, he has worked in sound engineering for Warner Bros. and Mosaic Entertainment.

“I’m hiding microphones on people, I’m changing battery packs on transmitters, I’m putting down carpet during shooting so you can’t hear footsteps over the dialogue. I’m running around, making sure all the variables are just right,” Viszmeg says. “It’s my job to make sure all the other jobs work really smoothly.”

“I don’t really dish out much, except for AA batteries. Everyone else is contributing to the set — I’m the only one extracting from (it).”

His experience working behind the scenes has pushed him to enter Edmonton’s music scene for himself under the moniker Method Sound. Though he cites mostly electronic artists as his inspiration — and admits he would “definitely cry” if he ever saw Björk live — the music he produces is remarkably unique. It would be a stretch to fit it into any genre: it’s too up tempo to be called ambient techno, and not harsh enough to be called industrial.

“It’s more about making a place than a sound,” Viszmeg says. “It’s a background where it can either be tuned out or tuned in.”

Perhaps the distinctiveness of his music is a reflection of his behind-the-scenes work, which deals with the audio heard in everyday life. Or maybe it’s a deliberate rejection of the conventions in electronic music today.

“I have this weird irking for modern music, where it’s all built around the drop,” Viszmeg says. “You have this boring rhythm of, ‘something’s going to happen, something’s going to happen, it’s happening! It’s happening!’”

Though the unpredictable nature of his field makes it hard to say what the future has in store, Viszmeg hopes to stay busy. His favourite days are ones in which he works fourteen hours or more.

“I love being totally overwhelmed and being like, ‘Holy fuck, I can’t do this,’ and then getting it done anyways,” Viszmeg says. “That is the most amazing feeling.”

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