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How Circonflex Wrote the First-Ever Song for Creatives



Circonflex CEO Paul-Étienne Côté discusses writing a song with ‘lorem ipsum’ as the lyrics, the challenges of being recognised as a real song, and why it’s no surprise that ‘Lorem Ipsong’ is the only pop song in Latin, writes LBB’s Josh Neufeldt

How Circonflex Wrote the First-Ever Song for Creatives

‘Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…’ It’s likely these words are familiar to anyone with a background in advertising or design. Serving as the placeholder text for previewing layouts and visual mockups, these words represent the only common language used by creatives everywhere, no matter what language they speak - in the office, or at home. 

But, while these words are often quickly deleted off the screen as the intended text is placed into each preview, creative agency LG2 and Circonflex - a music agency with studios in Montreal, Toronto and Paris - wanted people to consider the weight these words carry. Cue ‘Lorem Ipsong’. Composed by Circonflex, this original track was designed to show off the agency’s musical chops, while also connecting the international creative community through the universal language of contagious melodies that make listeners want to get up and dance. Alongside the song, LG2 also created a music video, featuring an animated version of the ‘lorem ipsum’ text in 13 illustrated styles - bringing extra flair to the once meaningless lyrics. 

LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with Circonflex CEO and composer, Paul-Étienne Côté, to learn more about how this song and idea came to life. 

LBB> ‘Lorem Ipsong’ is the first-ever song made just for creatives. What was the thought process, and why was this something you wanted to create?

Paul-Étienne> Creatives around the world, no matter their language, use the words ‘lorem ipsum’ as placeholder text for their mockups. We wanted to talk to them (sing to them!) in a language they already know by heart. This is where ‘Lorem Ipsong’ started to come to life. We teamed up with LG2 and created the first banger that unites the creative world. We also wanted to say, ‘Hey, no matter how crazy your projects or ideas are, Circonflex is in. Let’s do it!’. 


LBB> Who else was involved in creating ‘Lorem Ipsong’? Tell us about the creative process! 

Paul-Étienne> There are three main elements to this song: sung lyrics, rapped lyrics and the instrumental part. Initially we thought ‘it’s the pandemic, we can’t bring anyone into the studio, so we’ll do all three elements internally with our fantastic music producer, composers, and singers’ (including myself, and Olivier Girard). We worked on the music and things were groovin’! It was already happening! Then it was time to lay the lyrics in-house, so I gave it a try with the rap part but then woaaah! I realised that rapping in Latin is a real challenge! I challenge anyone reading this to try and memorise and sing the song! It’s so hard! It’s no surprise it’s the only pop song in Latin! 

Because of this, to record the vocal parts, we called our fabulous collaborators that we love working with: Julien Charbonneau (La Voix) and Ish Morris (Canadian Radio Music Awards). They’re part of the Circonflex extended family. Lastly, the mix was done by our lovely Toronto sound engineer Sydney Galbraith, who made it sound groovy and punchy! Sound design was done by Tanguy Meunier and Craig Murdock from the Montreal office, and finalised in our Paris studio. And, as a final touch, Abbey Road Studios took care of the mastering! 

LBB> What was the composition process like? How long did it take, and how did it compare to writing music for a traditional ad campaign?

Paul-Étienne> It did take a long time, mainly because we got so busy during the pandemic. The French government, the Canadian government and the Quebec government reached out to us (through their respective ad agencies) for our expertise with sound, voice-over and music on a few dozen productions! So, the Latin song had to be put on the back burner, for we had a virus to fight! 

When we picked up the song again a few months ago, we had already composed the instrumental part - which was inspired by the new wave of pop-disco-funky-summer bangers. After that, the hardest part was probably dividing ‘lorem ipsum’ into verse and chorus forms, and finding the right topline. That was quite a puzzle! Once it was done, Julien came into the studio and recorded the temp vocals (believe it or not, the final vocals on the track are actually the temp vocals that were recorded that day!). I love how the placeholder recording became permanent. Very ‘Lorem Ipsong’! By the end of the day, we had a hit!

LBB> What challenges does writing music to match pre-written lyrics (in this case, Lorem ipsum) pose? And how do you approach it as composers? 

Paul-Étienne> What’s funny is that for almost every song we write, we always need to come up with ‘temp vocals’ to look for/search/find/create the topline. These temp vocals are often gibberish, (some people call this ‘yoghurt’), with basic sounds and syllables that a composer will use to come up with their melodic line. So, in ‘Lorem Ipsong’s’ case, what’s funny is that the temporary lyrics were actually the final lyrics. From now on, we’re hoping that anyone who’s writing a song and needs temp lyrics to work on his topline can use ‘lorem ipsum’. It’s all yours guys! 

LBB> How did you go about finding the right time signature for ‘Lorem Ipsong’? And why did you make the choice you did?

Paul-Étienne> When it comes to finding the right tempo and time signature to make people dance, there are certain ‘rules’ that one ‘ought to’ to follow. It’s basically science (sort of). We found out that 116 beats per minute is a GREAT walking tempo, and it’s the perfect tempo to make you want to dance. So, next time you find yourself walking into the city and you want to feel like the ‘main character’, you should give it a try – play ‘Lorem Ipsong’ in your headphones and BOOM!

LBB> You mentioned the song was mastered at Abbey Road Studios - please tell us more about this! How long did this phase of the project take, and what was the collaboration like?

Paul-Étienne> I (like many people) have always wanted to collaborate with Abbey Road! It’s mythic. Unfortunately, the idea to reach out to Abbey Road came to me very late! The song had already been distributed to Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music, and then I thought in my sleep, ‘Oh shoot! This was my chance to FINALLY work with Abbey Road!’. So, one week before release, I asked the team to pull everything from everywhere and send in an urgent request at Abbey Road! Working with Sean Magee, we got it mastered super quickly. He’s a pro and super fast, and we made it just in time for the launch!

LBB> This song was also released with a video, made by LG2, which features 13 illustrated styles and 42 animated transitions. Tell us more about how this was made! What was the partnership with LG2 like?

Paul-Étienne> The partnership with LG2 was amazing. It’s their idea! They pitched it to me like, ‘Can you turn ‘lorem ipsum’ into a song?’. (And then, cut to this interview!). Anyway, once we were done, they started to create fonts, animations and illustrations - there is so much work in there! I can’t give enough thanks to everyone who was involved on this project for the past two years; Kyle Elich and Nethmie Hetti, creatives; Stuart McMillan, creative director; J.P. Dugal, designer and J.F. Clermont, motion designer and editor. And then of course, thank you to all of the PR team at LG2: Palmer, Marie-Luce, and Charlene from Circonflex Montreal. Thank you guys!

LBB> This campaign served as a chance for Circonflex to reflect on the importance of original music and sound for making creative projects come to life. Tell us more about this!

Paul-Étienne> Well, we might be biassed, but there’s nothing like human-to-human communication to take a project exactly where you want it to be. There are multiple advantages to using original music, but the main one would be that we, as composers (with many years of international experience), know how to capture and create the ideas that live in the creative’s brain. And then, obviously, original music is original. It’s exclusive. It’s unique. ‘Lorem Ipsong’ is not the only thing that hasn’t been done before. Let’s create something extraordinaire

LBB> You’ve expressed an interest in the history of ‘lorem ipsum’ in design and advertising, and how this universal language connects creatives across the globe. Where did this interest come from, and what would you like to say on the topic?

Paul-Étienne> One of the things that I find fascinating in life, in general, is when the past meets with the present. So obviously, I am in absolute awe when I think about the fact that these lyrics were written by Cicero in 45 BCE, and that we’re the first humans on the planet - in 2067 years - to turn them into a song! It makes me shiver! Secondly, I like to think that from now on, each time a creative copies and pastes the ‘lorem ipsum’ texts on a mockup, they might start singing the melody in their head! This song cannot be undone!

LBB> What challenges did you face during this project, and how did you overcome them?

Paul-Étienne> Currently, the biggest challenge is getting ‘Lorem Ipsong’ to be considered a real song. For instance, Google Ads and Facebook ads have been rejecting our posts, because they’re not in a real language! It’s the same thing with some radio stations - they’re saying that they’re not allowed to play non-English music. It’s not an easy battle to fight, but if we end up overcoming these challenges, I’ll be proud to say ‘Veni, vidi, vici!’.

LBB> How have people responded to this campaign? Are people loving the song?

Paul-Étienne> We reached 100,000 views in one week, so we’re quite happy about the overall response! People are also commenting a lot - sharing with their design students, with their colleagues… We have plays around the world! The song is available on every streaming platform, and added to playlists just for creatives, with titles like ‘Client came back with changes on Friday PM’, or ‘Can you combine the two ideas?’. And, we even got on national television with it! People can request the song on every radio station in Quebec. We are happy that we were able to bring the song to another level, not just as an internet fun and random idea!

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Circonflex, Tue, 08 Nov 2022 15:51:23 GMT