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The Work That Made Me: Mike Marinelli



Sonic Union co-founder, mix engineer, sound designer and musician on 'Video Killed the Radio Star', Poo Pourri ads and his love for Marc Bolan

The Work That Made Me: Mike Marinelli

Michael Marinelli is a co-founder of Sonic Union and a mix engineer, sound designer and musician. Throughout his career, he has applied his passion and experience to award-winning national commercial spots, beloved television shows, ground breaking music videos, as well as concerts and longform projects. A variety of influences have shaped Mike’s career, including people he met at his college TV station, including Adam Barone who would later become his partner, along with Steve Rosen, in Sonic Union. From projects like Pee Wee’s Playhouse to spots for the Super Bowl, Mike’s collaborations and finely tuned sensibilities continue to make a lasting imprint on pop culture. His warm and generous leadership approach has helped shape Sonic Union as a place where creativity thrives. 

The ad/music video from my childhood that stays with me…

Mike> I can honestly say that there are no ads that made me get into the business. Music videos are another story. I am of the original MTV generation and spent my share of hours with friends in front of the tube watching early MTV. In fact, I was watching when 'Video Killed the Radio Star' first aired. By the way, I’ve never agreed more with the title of that song than I do today. Before the music video, if any record label based their signings on what artists looked like, most of my favs would never have been discovered.


The ad/music video/game/web platform that made me want to get into the industry…

Mike> I knew I wanted to be a recording engineer before there were music videos or the web. My spent hours wearing out vinyl records planted the seeds for my ear training because I just wanted to figure out how they got those albums to sound like that. The first Star Wars movie made me curious about filmmaking and how cool sound-for-picture could be.


The creative work that I keep revisiting…

Mike> Any Judd Apatow or Larry David project / Miles Davis - 'Kind of Blue' or The Doobie Brothers - 'What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits' or Peter Gabriel’s 'So' album / 'Letters To My Son' by Kent Nerburn or 'Younger Next Year' by Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge. 'Life Is Short' by Mark Twain.


My first professional project…

Mike> The first sound-for-picture project I ever mixed was some of the 'Penny' cartoons for the original 'Pee-Wee’s Playhouse' TV show. That show was done by a lot of heavy hitters, and I learned so much from watching the craft in real life.


The piece of work that made me so angry that I vowed to never make anything like *that*…

Mike> If this ever happened... I don’t remember it.


The piece of work that still makes me jealous…

Mike> I’m just not a very jealous person but if I had to pick something… I like the Poo Pourri ads a lot. I love comedy stuff and most advertisers (and networks) are so conservative when it comes to their campaigns that it’s refreshing to see someone talk openly about pooping. There’s a lot of great creative ideas out there. The challenge has always been to get the clients to trust and go with it.


The creative project that changed my career…

Mike> Getting the opportunity to work with Prince on various sound-for-picture projects. Early in my career, while working as an assistant engineer at The Post Group in Los Angeles, I was booked to work late on a Friday night. I had no idea that I was going to end up in a room, one on one with Prince, making music edits for hours. After excusing myself to vomit in the bathroom, I pulled it together and the session went very well. More opportunities would follow.


The work that I’m proudest of…

Mike> Being a good Dad and the creation and continuation of Sonic Union.


I was involved in this, and it makes me cringe… 

Mike> Mixing all of AIG’s spots right up until the 2008 crash. Obviously, they 'didn’t really' know money.


The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most…

Mike> Mixing the film 'Angelheaded Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan & T. Rex' which debuted at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. When I first met the director, I told him that I loved Marc Bolan’s music and that I was meant to mix his film. By the time it was finished, he understood why. Having the opportunity to work with people who were so passionate about a project was infectious. It had been years since I had thought about a project on my 'off time', wondering how I could make it better. Seeing and hearing it in front of a live audience was career affirming. I look forward to more projects like that.

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Sonic Union, Wed, 11 Jan 2023 16:37:39 GMT