Tue, 02 May 2023 11:41:00 GMT
Jeremy Newton is head of agency business at DLMDD, the creative sound branding agency which helps make brands famous by bridging the magic of sound with the science of human connection. He joined the business in May 2023, reuniting with founders Sascha Darroch-Davies, Greg Moore and Max De Lucia, whom he worked closely with during their former tenure at Adelphoi Music.
Prior to joining DLMDD Jeremy was senior music supervisor at Sixty Four Music, where he worked with brands including Lloyds, Emirates, Argos and most recently We Buy Any Car, with the award-winning campaign 'Just Sold My Car'.
Alongside his day job, Jeremy is also known as ‘Uncle Vibes’ and DJ’s regularly at Ronnie Scott’s, The Groucho Club, Maison Estelle, The British Arrows and most recently, the after-party of the ‘Lewandowski’ film premiere in Warsaw.
LBB> When you’re working on a new brief or project, what’s your typical starting point? How do you break it down and how do you like to generate your ideas or response?
Jeremy> It varies from project to project, however, for me the best way to start is to have everybody involved from a creative point of view in a room together or on a call, to hash out the brief in a way that’s clear and concise and easily understandable for everybody. This will ensure nothing gets lost in translation further down the line.
LBB> Music and sound are in some ways the most collaborative and interactive forms of creativity - what are your thoughts on this? Do you prefer to work solo or with a gang - and what are some of your most memorable professional collaborations?
Jeremy> Without doubt the process is always more enriching if there are lots of different people involved. Nine times out of 10 I’d much rather work closely with composers, sound designers and producers, all working together towards the same goal.
Collaboration is key, which is one of the reasons why I’m so excited to be joining DLMDD and working again with Sascha, Greg and Max. Sascha and Greg gave me my first job in music back in 2013 as a supervisor – they schooled me in adland and in music production, so it’s great to be reunited with them again 7 years later. It feels like I’m coming home!
For me the most memorable projects have always involved collaborations. Perhaps one of the most memorable that comes to mind was a small job I worked on for Fanta, which was a radio spot and a re-record of a General Levy jungle hit from the 90s. Working with some incredibly well-respected producers we did a like-to-like re-record of the track using sample packs from that era. Managing and supervising that track was an amazing experience.
LBB> What’s the most satisfying part of your job and why?
Jeremy> There are a number of really satisfying elements to my job. Firstly, when you see the fruits of your labour come to fruition, it could be an orchestra playing, or seeing an ad on TV that you’ve supervised, it’s always rewarding.
However, I think the most satisfying part is getting to work with incredible talent and learning from them. When you’re in studio and working alongside some of the biggest, most talented artists, you can’t help but learn and be inspired by them.
LBB> As the advertising industry changes, how do you think the role of music and sound is changing with it?
Jeremy> From a business point of view its getting much more competitive, there are many more individual composers and producers and so when pitching for business there is undoubtedly more competition.
In terms of technical and creative aspects, the traditional music and sound services are in competition now with other audio services – sonic branding being at the forefront of that. It’s an incredibly nascent industry so it will be interesting to see the impact that will have on advertising strategy. There is also a lot more stuff that is direct to brand as opposed to agency.
Traditional campaign work is still relevant and based on creative outputs, however but sonic branding and more strategic wholesale audio aspect for brands and marketers is becoming much more relevant than it has been previously. We are increasingly seeing more demand from brands who want to be known for a particular piece of music, so there is more focus on long-term brand recognition. This is very much DLMDD’s sweet spot and I’m so excited to be joining the team and helping more brands find their own extraordinary sound.
LBB> Who are your musical or audio heroes and why?
Jeremy> I could talk about this for hours and discuss 100s of people but the first three that come to mind are the legendary Jamaican engineer King Tubby whose ability to manipulate sound arguably created a whole new genre of music in Dub, he is also seen as the originator of the concept of the remix and was an absolute genius. If I could go back in time and sit in on one of his sessions I would bite your hand off.
I am also in love with anything the legendary Gamble & Huff put their hand too. As founders of possibly my favorite label of all time - Philadelphia International - they were a driving force in Philly Soul sound characterized by the lush orchestration and brass, which pioneered and enabled so many household names and artists.
Thirdly, need to show some love to Goldie, his label, movement and genre had a huge influence on how I engage with and feel music, seeing him live at Ronnie Scott's in 2019 is in my top three gigs of all time!
LBB> And when it comes to your particular field, whether sound design or composing, are there any particular ideas or pioneers that you go back to frequently or who really influence your thinking about the work you do?
Jeremy> One part of the job that I still struggle with after all these years is not allowing my personal taste to impinge on the requirement of the brief. If it was up to me all ads would have a funky bassline, lush orchestration, warm chords, a slap bass and a booming female vocal. So in my case its actually best to actively try and not draw too much on the musical pioneers I hold dear to influence my thinking as it can have the opposite effect!
We are blessed to work and live in London which creatively has some of the best composers and sound designers in the world, so in a professional environment, inspiration is very easy to come by.
LBB> When you’re working on something that isn’t directly sound design or music (let’s say going through client briefs or answering emails) - are you the sort of person who needs music and noise in the background or is that completely distracting to you? What are your thoughts on ‘background’ sound and music as you work?
Jeremy> I like to listen to music when working, but if I need to fully concentrate it needs to be in instrumental form. I find listening to lyrics and focusing on work too conflicting, whereas instrumental music helps me to focus.
LBB> I guess the quality of the listening experience and the context that audiences listen to music/sound in has changed over the years. There’s the switch from analogue to digital and now we seem to be divided between bad-ass surround-sound immersive experiences and on-the-go, low quality sound (often the audio is competing with a million other distractions) - how does that factor into how you approach your work?
Jeremy> From a production point of view you are always conscious of creating and mixing audio to be premium, but also you’re aware that clients will receive the sound through their laptop or even their phone.
Ideally you would always want to present back clients in person through high quality speakers because you want them to focus on the music and get the best sound experience. You would get them to sit in a listening room and focus solely on the individual elements of your composition, because as a music supervisor you’re are conscious of every different element and therefore want it to sound as perfect as possible. However, the reality is that doesn’t always happen due to work constraints and deadlines and your composition is not always received or appreciated in the way you would like.
That said, it’s important to recognise that the majority of consumers will listen to campaigns and tracks on their phones or laptops, and so you do need to tailor what you do to account for that.
LBB> On a typical day, what does your ‘listening diet’ look like?
Jeremy> I’ve found that recently I have started to listen to more and more podcasts, which is a medium I find fascinating and through which you can learn so much.
With regards to music, it depends on my workday routine. Since the pandemic this has changed a lot, with fewer commutes and therefore fewer opportunities to listen to music on the train. Hybrid working has meant my listening diet has changed, and since having our first child it has changed even more, with nursery rhymes now coming into the mix!
When I’m at work I get daily music to catalogue and listen to, but when busy on productions it’s more difficult to find the time for this.
LBB> Do you have a collection of music/sounds and what shape does it take (are you a vinyl nerd, do you have hard drives full of random bird sounds, are you a hyper-organised spotify-er…)?
Jeremy> I’ve been collecting vinyls since I was a teenager and I’ve got a collection that I take great pride in. It’s organised by genre and grows in size by the week. It’s my go-to catalogue of music, and is my expensive habit! I am also a very organised Spotify-er.
LBB> Outside of the music and sound world, what sort of art or topics really excite you and do you ever relate that back to music (e.g. history buffs who love music that can help you travel through time, gamers who love interactive sound design… I mean it really could be anything!!)
Jeremy> I am fascinated by history in all its forms and will happily talk your ear off about World Wars, Cold Wars and Boer Wars, but as a narrative and an era - New York City in the 80's is a huge source of inspiration, one that I draw a lot from musically, visually, and culturally. So much was happening and the work of artists like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat and what they stood for as human beings really resonates. Not to mention early Hip Hop, Disco, The Paradise Garage, Larry Levan, The Punk movement and all that good stuff which I find very interesting as a moment in time where all these different creative energies diverged and created amazing art in all its forms.
LBB> Let’s talk travel! It’s often cited as one of the most creatively inspiring things you can do - I’d love to know what are the most exciting or inspiring experiences you’ve had when it comes to sound and music on your travels?
Jeremy> I have been very lucky to see and experience music in many forms and in many different places. I think the pinnacle of my career was being given a starring role in a Malawian music video after meeting an artist at the Lake Of Stars Festival in Malawi in 2009, which in itself was an incredible festival and travel-led musical experience.
As a DJ I have been lucky to play abroad and incorporate it into travel. Places like Berlin, Tel-Aviv, Paris, Cannes, Cancun have been great places to throwdown but the highlight was going to New York on a few occasions to do a show called the FunkOff which will live long in my memory.
LBB> As we age, our ears change physically and our tastes evolve too, and life changes mean we don’t get to engage in our passions in the same intensity as in our youth - how has your relationship with sound and music changed over the years?
Jeremy> Good question! My relationship with music and sound is still as passionate and intense as it has ever been, it has just evolved as I have got a little older and a little greyer! In my teens it was all about raving and record shops, more scene-based I guess. In my twenties it was more about going deeper on my teenage loves (jungle, hip hop, garage etc) and familiarising myself and learning the influences of that music. Now in my thirties I don’t feel such a need to attend live music or parties every week but the fire still burns in some respect! Also the narrative, folklore and culture around my specific musical passions intrigues me more than ever.
Cannes or Kinsale
Lunch or dinner
Lunch (all day)
Ronnie Scott’s or The Ritz
Easyjet or Ryanair
North or South London
Strictly or Love Island
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