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Jarred Causly on the New Wave of Sound Layering


Saatchi & Saatchi's senior music supervisor on the relationship between sound and ads and why sound really makes the spot

Jarred Causly on the New Wave of Sound Layering

Starting with a musically trained ear at an early age, Jarred synchronised his personal compositions to dubbed videotapes of his favourite animated action scenes. He began showcasing his work at the many creative music outlets across Los Angeles, which soon led to his first apprenticeship with world-renowned composer and music producer, Robert Rettberg. While under Robert’s tutelage, Jarred quickly gained the attention of his peers with an innovative visual sound that would catapult him into becoming a creative licensing standout.

He was soon recognised for his amazing 'sync-ear' and within months, his work began to gain traction with securing music placements with brands like Adidas, Ford and Nascar; along with getting music featured in major television networks across the globe.

With having early success in landing placements, Jarred turned his passion for sync licensing into a career. His start began with a three-year tenure at the Winogradsky/Sobel (WinSo) Music Licensing Firm. He locked in as the head of Sync A&R and Lead Music Curator. While working for WinSo, his production catalogue maintained its traction and secured further placements with ABC’s record-breaking sitcom, 'How I Met Your Mother' TNT’s 'Franklin and Bash' and NBC’s 'Criminal Minds'.

Jarred Causly continued to navigate his way through the music business, forging his way through the ever-changing world of sync licensing. 

Jarred then made his way over the industry leading marketing agency, Trailer Park Group, where he was brought on as the lead music supervisor of TV Promo and Trailers. Jarred worked on projects for a myriad of brands and TV platforms like Tubi, Freeform, ABC, NBC, Hulu, Disney+, BET+, and more. 

Today Jarred Causly finds himself taking on the role as sr. music supervisor for marketing giant, Saatchi & Saatchi. He will be taking his innovative style of music taste to the world of automotive marketing for the Toyota brand. His story has yet to be written at Saatchi, but this adventure can be sure to be one of wonder, amazement and greatness.

To me, the most critical innovation in the music industry is the new wave of sound layering. The sound makes the spot. Period. If the sound selected for the ad isn’t evolved and tailored to that specific spot, we have not done our jobs as music leaders in our agencies. Remixing, layering, and reworking the composition all help build the new era we’ve experienced in the last decade to create a new vision of music in advertising. 

Sound has evolved tremendously throughout the last few decades as it relates to ads. Previously, sound and production were just linear, standard production tracks. Now, sound can be a more dynamic, tangible, flexible element and is more layered than previously. In music theory, there’s a quintessential drum bed, a baseline, then a melody, and a couple of highlights throughout. But nowadays, the sound we’re hearing in advertising is a lot more cinematic within those elements. Ads are beginning to feel like mini-trailers for movies and are much more emotive in nature. The innovation comes in the way we’re constructing the pieces now and adding elements to music to create dynamic soundscapes and elicit a response from the audience. This was not common even just 10 years ago. 

A real example of this innovation was a spot we did last year at Saatchi featuring Nina Simone. The music choice was more of a current take on the track with Nina that was remixed by an amazing producer on the team. The spot was for a Toyota truck going through rugged mountain terrain. It’s an example of how they took a piece and recreated it with theatrical elements and an even more modern sound production we’d seen or heard before. Normally when you hear Nina Simone, you're not thinking of Toyota. But just by taking a piece that's existed in the world for decades, breaking down the composition, and putting it back together, you get an epic piece for a spot that wouldn’t normally attach itself to the original idea or brief. 

I’ve had a myriad of projects implement this strategy with music I’ve selected for brands’ ads, and promo campaigns. What sticks out are the spots I supervised for: Hulu’s Reasonable Doubt Promo, Adidas Off The Court Campaign AD, XBOX NBA 2K AD, and Prime Videos – Coach Prime Promo/Trailer. These are a few examples of when the music I selected had theatrical elements implemented within a primary genre of music in order to enhance the composition to fit better for each project. Producing in this manner allowed for the music to elevate the picture and brand spot in its entirety.

The biggest piece to understand is that there are now so many different tools at our disposal to design new sounds and the accessibility to manipulate sound that is played or sampled. We’re seeing techniques and tools that were not available a decade ago. These are how we can produce those big epic tracks to go along with an ad and they can really help to enhance the way a composition is going to sound when you're done to make it a custom fit to the spot. These vary from new theatrical risers and sweeps and new unique piano sounds, big synth sounds, and new mixing equipment that makes music sound bigger, clearer, and with more volume to the piece. Of course, it is imperative to understand the basic fundamentals of music theory and have a keen sense of musicality. When you mix the two, coupled with today’s innovation, you have an epic combination.

Sometimes there is too much access. There might be too much that you have to sift through if you're trying to create an innovative composition and too many different instrumentation elements out there that you can pull from. It seems like there are a million new modules to break into, it’s overwhelming at times. For example, Pharrell has a certain sound and goes from pop to hip-hop, to EDM, and back again. But Pharrell uses his go-to equipment that just works for him. Where Pharrell’s genius comes in is that he doesn’t rely on the equipment, but he relies on his uncanny ability to vocalise his musical vision. It’s like how the veterans from back in the day used to do it. It’s called vocalese, scat, etc… James Brown was a master at it. He’d call for Maseo to play a sound like he heard over and over in his head and the rest of the band followed. What happens nowadays is that young people forget about the understanding of allowing the vocalese to drive your sound and composition. So that's just one example of knowing your lane and what you excel at, and then surrounding yourself with the necessary tools that fit in that lane and not worrying about all the other millions that are out there. 

We will absolutely see this trend continue to rise, it’s already skyrocketing upward in the ad space. The crafty and innovative ways producers and music supervisors like myself are finding new ways to break down the composition and build it back up are getting more and more impressive. We’re unlocking potential with artists and finding diamonds in the rough to create ads that surround the song instead of adding music as an afterthought. This is something someone like Apple does well and you’ve probably noticed in commercials. Now it’s my job to get Saatchi there!

We're also seeing different versions of ads at different lengths with remixes to the original, and the landscape is going to enhance how brands are presenting their product. It's exciting to be in the buzz and the epic ads we’re able to create allow us to have fun with it. It’s only up from here. Let’s win!

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Saatchi & Saatchi - USA, Wed, 26 Apr 2023 15:02:22 GMT