BoomBox Sound music producer on growing up in a filmmaking family, his creative process and advice for budding producers
Music producer Chris Stiliadis was literally born into filmmaking. Growing up, his dad owned a film distribution and production company in their hometown of Toronto, so he's naturally always had an interest in the medium. However, in those formative years Chris found himself becoming increasingly passionate about making music. Now, all grown up, Chris works as a music producer for Canadian sound company BoomBox. His combined passion for music and film undoubtedly informs his audio production, and in his short period on the scene he's already created great work for illustrious clients such as VISA and Nike. Jason Caines sat down with Chris to talk more about his youth, experience of working in the sound business, and to find out if he has any advice for budding audio producers.
LBB> What were you like as a kid in Toronto?
Chris Stilidatis> Creative and full of energy, I liked making music and short films… if it wasn’t that, I was probably hanging out with friends skating around.
LBB> Growing up your father owned a film distribution and production company. How did that influence your interest in film?
CS> It made me appreciate all the elements and respect the craft. As early as 12 years old I worked for my dad in the summer and I’d spend the whole day watching independent movies deciding whether I felt they were good enough to invest in. Running through so many feature films gave me an appreciation for the difficulty of creating something special.
LBB> So, what initially inspired you to make music?
CS> The positive energy I got back from people. I felt like I found a way to connect on a higher level and make them feel strong emotions.
LBB> How did you get your first role in the music and sound industry?
CS> Sticking with likeminded individuals. I surrounded myself with friends that were always trying to do things. We would continuously make new sounds and videos until one day someone put a budget on it.
LBB> Your were studying for a fine art degree at Ryerson University whilst also working at BoomBox. How was it juggling student life and a new role in a fast-paced industry at the same time?
CS> It was for the last couple months of my final year. It was great and I was able to learn a lot while finishing up my degree. I don't feel like anything changed, I kinda stopped going to class… but ensuring I still got the work done.
LBB> What's your current role at BoomBox and what do you do day-to-day?
CS> I got hired as a Music Producer but day-to-day I tackle a lot of roles… Music composition, music production, voice casting, vocal direction, sound design and creative direction takes up most of my time. I am fortunate to have a role in this company that allows me to take on so many different aspects of audio production.
LBB> What's the best piece of music and sound production that you've worked on and why?
CS> The SK-2 ‘One Bottle Away From’ campaign. There was a lot of pressure due to the fact we were representing some big names and there were three spots that had completely different tones. I had to create vibes for each subject that felt fitting to their life, personality and setting. Luckily, I was working with my close friends/founders of Nice & Juicy, so I was given tons of creative freedom. This allowed me to challenge myself while still collaborating with them to create something special. Working at BoomBox made the scores stand out because I was able to use their unique collection of vintage instruments to create some interesting original tones.
LBB> You've previously worked with Visa, can you tell us about the project and your experiences?
CS> It was exciting, I actually worked with Nice & Juicy on that one as well and helped out with the music pro
duction, mixing and sound design. It promoted Visa as well as CBC’s virtual reality experience that they were offering during the Rio 2016 games. I never would have thought I’d be sitting in my studio mixing Morgan Freeman’s vocals, life’s weird.
LBB> Tell us about the music that you like to make. How would you describe it and where can we listen to it?
CS> My music composition process is strange to a lot of people, I come from a hip hop background which ties in with the art of sampling. I rarely loop a sample, I find a unique tone and shape it through sound design to create original sound. From there I layer with real instruments to fill in the space. The warm quality in older music is hard to find these days, instruments were recorded in beautiful studios with amazing analogue gear back then. Even taking a sliver of that from an old record can inspire me to make something new. 98% of the time I can play the original song and then my sample and you won’t notice the similarities, I just use the sample as inspiration to get started. I post a lot of my work on my websiteif anyone would like to check it out.
LBB> What music do you personally like to listen to?
CS> I like a lot of music but right now the vibe I’m on is King Krule, Steve Lacy, Gus Dapperton and Cosmo Pyke.
LBB> Tell us about working with Nike and Anomaly on The Crown League basketball campaign. Sounds like very exciting stuff.
CS> That was a fun job. I just wanted to push the commercial to be as cinematic as possible while maintaining something true to our city. The culture behind basketball and music in Toronto is constantly becoming stronger so it was something interesting to represent with Nike and Anomaly. I worked with engineer David Goudie to sound design the piece. We’ve worked on so many projects together that we understand and respect each other’s work flows which always makes for a smooth process. He’s very talented and easy to work with. I had Prezident Jeff in on the composition – he has composed for a lot of big artists from Toronto and carries the city’s sound in his work. Working with Anomaly is always great, they have some amazing creatives there.
LBB> Do you have any advice for budding music and sound producers?
CS> Opportunities will naturally appear if you set the bar high and continue working towards your goal. Stay away from negativity and dream big, the right people will stick and the wrong ones won’t be around long.
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