Mon, 18 Sep 2023 11:40:00 GMT
In 2008, Kate Gibson left Amber Music to set up HENRYBOY, a sound design company with Bill Chesley.
Bill> When I begin work on something, and throughout the process, I find it very helpful to ask myself: "What am I trying to achieve? What best serves the idea? What is the overall intent?" These questions help me stay focused. I think one outcome of this approach is a lower track count and a more purposeful use of the sonic space.
Bill> While I have collaborated with people in the past, overall I’m a lone gun, and like it that way. I think I get freaked out by my 'lack of process'. I find that if I’m too conscious of another persons opinions while trying to formulate an idea, I freeze up. I come at things from a million different directions - things just pop into my head when I work - it’s chaotic, and hard to explain, but I guess it works. I’ve been at it for 30 years.
Bill> Sound is a pretty abstract subject. Most people don’t have a very clear idea how to discuss it - how to articulate their ideas relative to the visual. I think I’ve become a pretty good communicator of what I do, and I think most people exit the first zoom call with a confidence in me that I find very gratifying. Kate - my producer/partner - and I have become very good at creating a positive experience, and breaking the process down in such a way that is clear and usually pretty concise. Talking the talk, and walking the walk, is very satisfying.
Bill> The basic gist of what I’ve been doing for so long has not changed. I think the sounds, the Implementation of sounds in a context, is still the most important thing. If you don’t nail the brief, in the eyes - and ears - of the client, you’re done before you’ve started.
Saying that, things like UGC (user generated content) vis-à-vis TikTok, and other social media platforms, have influenced some of our projects. I’ve been tasked with doing foley on some actual UGC, and then degrading the sound to make it match the lousy quality of a doorbell cam. It’s kinda fun. ASMR, which has a massive presence on YouTube, has been popping up a fair amount lately, and we’ve done several projects that incorporate that idea into campaigns.
Bill> Terrence Malick, Bill Viola, Christian Marclay, Alan Splet. They all changed the way I think about things.
Bill> The range of work I get makes this tough to answer - some jobs are straight forward, and maybe require some well thought out foley/ambience work, while others are more impressionistic and really push your creative juices.
I have a large aggregate of hero sound designers, but two people that really influenced my approach to the work I do in advertising are Michelle Curran, my boss at Amber music where I worked for 10 years, and Stephen Dewey, owner/sound designer at Machinehead, where I worked for four years. Anyone who knows advertising knows these two names. They were - still are - the coolest, the most respected. Their opinions really mattered, back in the days before 'content'. They were real advocates of my early career, and taught me to be bold and stick to my guns. Real pioneers.
Bill> I wish I could listen to music while doing sound design, but it doesn’t work. I know that’s a weird thing to wish for, but hey. Also, the songs would leak into the foley.
Bill> Marshall Mcluhan said 'the medium is the message'. That idea still holds a lot of water. How something is presented only matters when it works. Great sound system, shit idea- who cares about the sound system?
Bill> Hmm - I start with granola and yogurt, so I guess I start with a soft crunch? I don’t know. I take it all in. I listen a lot. I always carry a little Sony d10 around with me just in case. Kate and I watch A LOT of movies - Criterion Channel has become an obsession. Great films always inspire.
Bill> I currently have a little over two terabytes of sounds in my Sound Miner archive. It is a collection of my sounds, and libraries I’ve collected over the years. Somewhat to my chagrin, I haven’t massively 'metadated' my stuff, so It’s a little all over the place - but I remember things. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, but I can, for example, remember an ambience I recorded in New Paltz in 2011 because it has a car drive by in it that would be perfect for the thing I happen to be working on. You might say my memory is less than sound, but I have sound memories.
Bill> I am really interested in process. I love Peter Jackson’s documentary on the Beatles. How people make things and come up with things and ideas is fascinating.
Bill> As I’ve already said, I always have recorders on me, and Kate and I do a lot of traveling around, so we end up recording a lot of stuff when we’re out and about. We recorded the Brighton (England) seafront last summer with a seismic mic I bought off a company called LOM. The mic's called GEOFON - its a mic you can stick in the ground, or to a bridge with a magnetic adapter, or suction to a window - kinda like a contact mic with an emphasis on low end - really cool. Get one.
That’s really what excites me. New ways to do old things, and then applying those things to projects. Very, very satisfying.
Bill> There are a lot more sound designers - good, young, beautiful, hungry, sound designers - out there than there were years ago - which makes this already relatively esoteric world that much more challenging. I actually enjoy this reality, and hope that people new to the business get to realise the success I’ve had without being stomped out by things like AI. Thankfully, HENRYBOY’s still pretty busy. I actually think I’m doing some of my best work. I still get very amped when I get new work - I fecking love it, and I’ll work until the wheels fall off. So to all you youngsters, I say: GET OFF MY LAWN! I’M TRYING TO RECORD SOME BIRDS!!view more - Music & SoundHENRYBOY, Mon, 18 Sep 2023 11:40:00 GMT