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Thinking in Sound: The Emotions of Music for Michael Gie


The partner and executive producer at Rumble Studios, on a ‘hunger for authenticity’, his musical playlists that take him from office to family life and how music consumption has changed in the past ten years

Thinking in Sound: The Emotions of Music for Michael Gie

Michael Gie is partner and executive producer of Rumble Studios. As a creative producer Michael works closely with composers to ensure their music delivers on emotion, authenticity and quality and is committed to giving clients an exceptional studio experience. Rumble Studios recently received the Shots Gold Audio Company of The Year for Australasia 2021.

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?

Michael> Musically, the first thing we look at is always emotion. What emotion or feeling are we trying to convey and to what degree? We then look at our palette of instruments, genre and production approach and begin to experiment. From this experimentation ideas are born, and we start on structure, chord progressions and recording. Our sound designers and composers always work closely together, so we‘re constantly balancing the sound scape between music, SFX and dialogue so nothing competes.   

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?

Michael> As a creative producer I’m across every piece of music we compose. We’re a very collaborative team so we’re always listening to WIP tracks and bouncing ideas around. The creative process can often send you down wormholes and when you take a step back it’s gone the wrong way. So it’s really important to keep collaborators involved in the process and keep the main objective in focus while being as creative as possible.      

LBB> What’s the most satisfying part of your job and why?

Recording a live orchestra is an amazing experience. Listening to anything from a string quartet to a full orchestra perform live is beautiful and gives me goosebumps every time. 

LBB> As the advertising industry changes, how do you think the role of music and sound is changing with it?

Michael> With the huge changes in the way we consume music in the last 10 years, more artists are looking to be involved in commercial opportunities. This has coincided with the hunger for authenticity in the advertising world. Music has always been at the forefront of self-expression, fashion, art and culture so as these two worlds move closer together music and advertising will continue to intertwine even more.    

LBB> Who are your musical or audio heroes and why?

Michael> I think I’ve watched The Defiant Ones about ten times - I love the mentality of Jimmy Iovine & Dr Dre. They relentlessly push the boundaries and have huge belief in artistic integrity and letting artists express themselves without compromise. 

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?

Michael> As an EP with a team to manage, I actually draw a lot of inspiration from incredible sport coaches. I’m constantly asking myself ‘have I given them everything they need to do something special, have I set them up for success in this project’.

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?

Michael> I don’t mind a bit of ambient music, but vocals distract me because I can’t help listening to them.  

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?

Michael> During lockdown especially, it certainly has had an effect on creative feedback with everyone listening on different speakers and in different environments. We’ve started creating two mixes also, one for online and one for TV as the audio experience through headphones is very different to through a TV in a living room. 

LBB> On a typical day, what does your ‘listening diet’ look like?

Michael> The morning is always hip-hop to charge me up. During the day we have playlists going in the studio reception, generally contemporary but we mix it up with anything from reggae to hair metal. My drive home is always classical or something chilled and never with lyrics as I use the time to process the day and cross over from work to family life.   

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…)?

Michael> At Rumble we create a monthly playlist on Spotify - from folk classics to summer party music - so it’s an ever-growing collection of killer playlists.   

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!!)

Michael> I use the Calm app a lot and it really interests me how soundscapes like crickets or crackling fires can transport you and change your mood. I often put on a sound scape when I’m writing or reading just to help stay in a particular frame of mind. 

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?

Michael> Certainly the live music and dancing in Cuba. Music is so deeply intrenched in the culture it’s incredible. Couples will get up and dance during in a morning coffee at a roadside cafe and night time is alive with music, mojitos and sweaty dancing. Their sense of rhythm is phenomenal.  

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?

Michael> I think I’ve become more patient with music. I appreciate small production techniques, nuances in performances or lyrics and all the intricacies that go in to someone’s art. But I also still just love a banger.

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Rumble Studios, Mon, 01 Nov 2021 15:29:10 GMT