MUSIC+SOUND AWARDS TALK TO...
2017 JURY MEMBER,
COMPOSER + FOUNDING PARTNER
HUMAN WORLDWIDE, NEW YORK
Can you tell us a bit about where your musical journey began and how you came to be a founding partner of Human Worldwide, one of the most respected and successful music and sound production companies in advertising?
I’ll give you the 4x fast forward version... My father was a classical concert pianist. I started playing the drums and guitar as a child (mostly rock and roll). I went to the Mannes College Of Music and studied the classical guitar. After college I started a jazz fusion band and a recording studio (primarily to be able to afford to record our music - 24 track analog days). Played and recorded with several R&B acts and travelled the world for several years. After a long recuperative period, during which I bailed on the recording studio business, I started to write for TV commercials. I found that I really liked doing the work. It was eclectic - and lucrative - which suited me just fine. At this point I’d had quite a diverse musical background and I enjoyed working in different styles. I also grew up watching way too much TV and as a result a serious love for old jingles and TV themes. After several years of freelance work as a composer for advertising, my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and Human was born.
I’ve never had a non-musical job in my life. At a certain point in my teens I realized I didn’t want to do anything else but have a life in music. Later I realized I was pretty far down a road and couldn’t do anything else so it was sink or swim.
I always liked being in a band as opposed to being a solo act. I’ve always been in collaborative situations and have surrounded myself with the best talent, better than me. I teamed up with my partners Morgan Visconti and Gareth Williams 17 years ago, and now we’re a family of over 30 amazingly talented people!
Can you tell us a bit about the process of working with advertising agencies to produce the music that’s right for their brands…
Well I don’t want to bore you here. It’s very straightforward. You listen, listen a lot, think deep thoughts, then bring your heart and soul to the work and write great music. Simple. You should also know when to leave your ego behind. You work until they’re satisfied.
You have to keep your ear in the game. Always be up to date or even ahead of the curve as far as musical trends go.
What’s the approximate ratio of original compositions vs. existing music you’re finding agencies are requesting at the moment?
I venture a guess, 60% percent original
Have you noticed any shift in trends in terms of what type of music is being sought?
Better music for less money!
How do you strike a balance between the business and artistic sides of work? Do you manage to compose as much as you’d like to?
Balance is fleeting. However I do like composing for commercials and I do it almost everyday. We work on some cool spots so there isn’t a feeling that this work is taking me away from doing something really cool and fulfilling. I guess at times we all feel like we’ve opened a vein. But if you want to hear a musician complain get him a gig - I think that quote is from The Book Of Proverbs - goes way back.
Have you worked on any projects recently that you’ve been particularly excited about?
Well, yes! We recently created a new arrangement of “My Way” for Adidas “Original Is Never Finished” out of Johannes Leonardo, directed by Terrence Neale. It’s quite edgy. I’d put it up next to videos he’s done for Skrillex or Die Antword. It’s great to be in such company.
The process of creating the soundtrack was fun, collaborative, old school. We had this idea to video record random people on the street singing “My Way” and cut together the performances. It became the concept. They didn’t want anything slick or contrived so this fit the bill. My partner Morgan Visconti went on location for a week in Cape Town to do live on-set recording which was compiled as the cut came together. It was great to be able to work with the agency from the start.
2016 was our year of big on-set productions. We started off with another epic on-set record; an arrangement of “Kiss From A Rose” for NFL “Super Bowl Babies” directed by Lance Accord. We travelled around America recording the actors singing on camera, all edited and mixed back in the studio as the cut came together. The real challenge with this one was keeping up with a constantly changing script and lyrics, a huge challenge to say the least. The kicker was that Seal himself actually got on board with it and made a cameo appearance.
Finally there was Samsung “International Anthem” directed by Mark Molloy. The music was an a cappella vocal piece recorded live on set in multiple countries. We’re very proud of this work as well as grateful for the opportunity to have worked in the trenches with the directors and creative teams.
View Andy's work and learn more about Human Worldwide on their site here