In Conversation With: Soviet Science Music's Scuta Salamanca
Scuta Salamanca is the Founder and Creative Director of Soviet Science Music. His career began as a runner in TV production back in the late '90s. His passion for music swiftly moved him on to music promos for Jamiroquai and later he found a home in the TV department at Grey London. With a passion for both film and music, it finally occurred to him to combine the two sides and he formed Soviet Science Music in 2002.
Since then he has written music for clients including Jaguar, O2, BBC, Google, Channel 4 and even Michael Moore. His bands 'The Dallas Guild' and 'Social Skills' have been synchronised to TVCs for VW, Nurofen and Bompass & Parr's wobbling jelly viral hit. They also collaborated with director AJ Colomb on a promo/documentary about a transexual prostitute in Milan.
Salamanca was a member of the jury for the 2017 Music+Sound Awards. Here, he chats to the awards show about his career, striking the balance between business and art and more.
Q> You’ve had a varied career and an interesting entry into music production for advertising. Can you share your career path to date?
Scuta Salamanca> Sure. After University I started working in TV on the production side of the industry, both in production companies and then in the TV department at Grey. At the same time I was songwriting and performing in bands. So I set up Soviet Science to combine the two loves and bring the production and composition talent of record makers to the advertising world.
Q> How do you strike a balance between the business and artistic sides of work?
SS> I’m passionate about what we do at Soviet Science so the business side of things really feels doesn't feel like business – it’s just making things happen which is all part of the creative process. Having a great team behind you also helps, of course, to make it all run smoothly! The crossover comes where I’m working with other composers to deliver the best we can from understanding what the client wants.
Q> Do you manage to compose as much as you’d like to?
SS> I get to choose which projects I write on as I have a really strong team of composers who can tackle any brief. But there’s nothing better than being in the flow of composition so I’m always writing and working on music projects. Whether it’s a band album or a solo project. In fact I’ve just released a record with my band Social Skills earlier this year – it’s kind of maximalist indie pop! Some of the best projects I’ve worked on have crossed the line between working with bands and being a composer as well.
Q> At what stage in a project do you tend to get involved?
SS> That always depends on when a client feels ready or wants us to get involved. Sometimes we’re in early developing the brief and going through the whole project in tandem with the visual side. Sometimes we’re called in at the last minute. Then there’s a real buzz in having to score to a film on a tight deadline. We’re used to both. They’re both valid.
Q> What has been your favourite project that you’ve worked on recently?
SS> We’re mainly known for our bespoke work but recently we worked with an up-and-coming artist, Tala, on the QuietComfort campaign for Bose which we synced her track Alchemy to. There’s no VO, just a girl dancing to the track in the deserted streets of London. It looks and sounds amazing especially in the cinema. I also composed a score for Jaguar that was just double bass and drums, each instrument sparring off the other in a crazy fast jazz piece. It’s pretty nuts but really adds to the film.
Q> Has there been a most challenging one?
SS> Oh yes…The most standout one in recent times was for Gillette’s 100 Years of Hair film. It ended up with over 14 million views on YouTube. The film is a locked off shot in stop frame animation of a man shaving through the 1910s to the 2010s. His facial hair and clothing evolve ten times over the course of the one minute film. We reflected the hero’s evolving taste in music over each era all in a seamless piece. There was a lot of research that went in to finding the magic tempo that would fit all the styles that the track is arranged in. We got on board early on this job as we had to map the piece out before the shoot too. I was very happy with the result.
Q> What tech / tools or processes excite you about the future?
SS> Remote recording sessions are becoming more widespread now. This means we can work with amazing talent all over the world at a moment’s notice in their studios. This helps us get great talent to help deliver really high quality bespoke tracks. The tech is also improving to be able to “attend” these sessions remotely as the live feed quality is so much better too now.
Q>Have you witnessed any significant change in the industry since you started out?
SS> Clients want bespoke composition to sound as high quality as a record now. Over the years, I’ve been finding more and more composing talent crossing over from the record music industry to the advertising world. This helps us do what we love doing – making high end bespoke music for clients.
Genre: Music & Sound Design