Gear Seven/Arc Studios/Shift
I Like Music
Contemplative Reptile
  • International Edition
  • USA Edition
  • UK Edition
  • Australian Edition
  • Canadian Edition
  • Irish Edition
  • German Edition
  • French Edition
  • Singapore Edition
  • Spanish edition
  • Polish edition
  • Indian Edition
  • Middle East edition
  • South African Edition

Meet Tag’s New Sound Engineer: Matthew Ennis on Ads Today and his Approach to the Craft



Matthew Ennis, Tag’s new sound engineer, tells LBB what made him want to join the company, his creative process, and the audio sound trends he’s thinking about today

Meet Tag’s New Sound Engineer: Matthew Ennis on Ads Today and his Approach to the Craft

A lot of people in the advertising industry stumble on it by chance - a creative interest leads them here or a fortuitous internship lands in their lap. Matthew Ennis is one of the rare few who had a clear vision - he knew he liked music, at university he combined it with his other love, tech, and joined the industry after graduation. For him, the ability to be a “massive nerd and creative at the same time” was a huge part of the draw. 

He joined Tag in July of this year after working as a sound editor at The Sound & Edit Store for over seven years. At first, Tag appealed due to the company’s reputation and the advertised role; once Matthew met the people working there and got to know how they get the work done, he was convinced that it was the best place for him. Three months later, he’s confident that his instinct was correct. 

Matthew has already gotten stuck into a number of projects, including a personal highlight - the intro for League of Legends: Wild Rift championship. Today, he talks to LBB about why Tag is the right place for him, his approach to briefs and the creative process, and the trends he’s spotted in the advertising space. 

LBB> You’ve been working in the industry since 2013. What first drew you to it and how did you know it was the right place for you?

Matt>  Luckily, I knew what I wanted to do since I was 16. I have always been into music and then I got into recording - I went to Uni to study for it. And then straight out of uni, I knew exactly what I wanted to do so I tried to intern wherever I could. I got an internship at a post house doing transfers and the more technical stuff. That opened up a second element of what I really liked about the industry: the tech. I always refer to myself as a massive nerd. That technical aspect got me the job to start, which then opened the doors for me to be creative as well. I kind of knew it was right when I realised that I can be a massive nerd and be creative at the same time. 

LBB> As someone who went to university for this craft, versus the people who learn on the job, what do you think are the benefits of either? Do you think there's a right way of going about it?

Matt> With university, for me, the one thing that I always sort of latch on to is that I got training in the industry standard software. If you were to do that on your own, it would cost you thousands of pounds. At university, they basically get a member of staff to go and get all the course accreditation then they say “if you buy the book, we'll provide you with the course.” I don't know if it's ever actually helped me to get a job, but it certainly helped me keep the job when I got the chance to go into the creative world because a lot of people in the industry don't have that formal training. You then get the opportunity to step in and say “Oh, I've got formal training, I can help you out.” 

LBB> What drew you to working at Tag specifically?

Matt> Initially, it was the scale of the company and how the advertised job role aligned with my skills. I thought that it sounded awesome because you never really know until you start the process. When I had the first interview and met my now manager I realised that we’re aligned on lots of the work values; lots of the work practices seem really in line with what I also believe are good values and practices. After that first interest, I knew I really wanted this and then meeting some more people in the process made it feel like a really good place to be.

LBB> You’ve been with Tag for only a few months. What kind of ‘new starter’ support are you receiving?

Matt> People have been really supportive overall. Everyone made sure I got a pass on the very first day and that I had basic tech stuff, which is small but really important! More specific to my job, Scott and the bookings producers have really eased me into sessions. When you change studios, there's a lot of specificity to the workflows and how you do stuff, why you do stuff, and where stuff goes. They’ve eased me in and let me wrap my head around that before we really started. So in terms of the initial support, it was a gentle way of getting started which was great.

LBB> What kind of projects have you had a chance to work on already? 

Matt> A few. In my first week, we worked on this really cool League of Legends project, which was really nice - I wasn't the one mixing it, but I was able to support on it. So it's doing some really cool sound design, some really cool Foley. Another one that stands out was we did a really lovely charity job, which was for Justdiggit, and that went into the cinemas. 

LBB> What is your creative process like? Where do you start when a brief comes in? Do you prefer detailed briefs or open-ended briefs? Why?

Matt> My philosophy changes depending on who I'm working with. You get situations where you’re working with someone, and they know exactly what they want and they just kind of need you to do it. Then you're sort of a mechanic in the process of getting it done. The flipside is when you get people that only know what they don't want or only know it in the abstract. Sometimes it's hard to explain what you want, even with the best of intentions. 

I had one recently where we were going for a specific effect. A lot of nonverbal communication was needed to understand what everyone was after and make an aesthetic decision. You can read a brief and it'll say “Hey, we want all this, all the bells and whistles” and it’s only when you talk to someone that you can nail down what everyone is after. When it comes to my creative process, I treat it as a very personal matter, because at the end of the day I do work for people. It's not just for my creativity.

With briefs, if it's detailed, then that can be really helpful. But there’s also the opportunity to steer you in the wrong direction, so it depends on the project. For the more creative projects I think having a conversation and an opportunity to read a person's cues, rather than just the words is important, which can be easily misinterpreted. It's like if you're having a conversation with someone versus reading an email - there are ways to misread someone's tone.

LBB> The advertising industry moves fast. Do any particular shifts or trends stand out to you from a sound engineering perspective?

Matt> I think that ads today have some of the coolest, most creative soundscapes. Very few ads now go down the route of the really cheesy jingle, we've come a long way. Now, it's massive washes, really intense close-up sound design. Ads are just cooler, they kind of have to be.

LBB> Do you think the role of music and sound or how it’s utilised is changing within the industry at all?

Matt> Definitely. I’m seeing a bit of an ‘all or nothing approach’. I've been doing a few more fragrance ads at the moment and it's very much just the bombastic, exciting music with a powerful voiceover. And that's kind of all there is to it. There's not really any sound design at all. By contrast, you see ads that are telling a story only through sound, using sound design to enhance a narrative and create that style and feeling that you would maybe ordinarily get from the music.

LBB> Finally, any dream projects you’d love to work on?

Matt>  Not specifically but, interestingly, that Wild Rift project at the start was something that was a highlight already because I used to play that game. My vague-ish dream would be to work on something that I have a personal connection to; that would be the icing on the cake. Something really cool and creative, but it's also something that has a connection to my life.

view more - People
Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.
Tag, Wed, 02 Nov 2022 09:40:18 GMT