Most week's we feature a playlist from Rob Dunham of A-MNEMONIC Music. As such a dedicated contributor to Soho Soho we wondered what makes the man behind the tracks tick. So along with business partner, Composer Toby Jarvis here they share an insight into their world and why it's wise never to hold a plectrum between your teeth when you sneeze..!
1. Rob, what are some of A-MNEMONIC’s latest projects that you’re most proud of?
We’ve been working on a brilliant film with Brooklyn Bros NY for a premium tequila brand which goes live in a couple of weeks. I can’t say much at this point but it features an A-List movie director in his gothic world of ritual sacrifice. The music was written by our talented violinist and percussionist composer Adrian Leung. We’ve also produced the Title Theme and ‘format moments’ for the ITV show Love Island. The show has been growing in popularity and is even beating Big Brother in the ratings. We’ve really enjoyed working with ITV over the last 3 years, it’s been great fun! We’ve also worked on quite an experimental film for a fashion charity directed by Balthazar Klarwein through Feel Films. It’s a gorgeous dark fantasy which encapsulates the spirit and message of Fashion Revolution. Titled “Loved Clothes Last” the film depicts a paradise lost to a flood of rubbish as a reminder of the importance of loving, and keeping, our clothes for longer. The music was written by our new experimentalist composer Luke Phillips.
2. Toby, what’s the best brief you’ve had?
A few TV producers are intimidated by talking about music briefs - even more so having to brief a music company, and are quite happy to pass it onto others to deal with. I’ve even heard a couple of producers say “I hate music!” We’ve always made it our mission to make the whole music process easy. A little bit of forethought with the music can be a fantastic opportunity to be really creative and brave, creating an amazing piece of music that people will remember. We were once booked to compose the music for a series of a glossy Warner Bros TV drama about plastic surgeons for the Latin American market. When I asked the charismatic Mexican director how he wanted the music to sound, he simply said ‘I want sexual tension!’ It was a great brief, he knew exactly how the music should make us, the audience ‘feel’ Other than that, the brief was completely open, we could do what we wanted and up to us how it should sound. Needless to say it was a very charged soundtrack.
3. Toby, what’s the worst things that has happened to you on a job?
We once produced a big orchestral score for a multi national bank commercial. The ad featured a ‘Gullivers Travels’ scenario with a gigantic bank manager attacked from all sides by legions of angry (very small) customers. They come with ropes and arrows and cannons. The giant is eventually tied down. The music, dramatic and exciting, highlighted the cannons crashing, with acrobatic lasso-ing Lilliputians. The score then climaxed on a high sustained string note which held - in suspense - as the voice over came on. At this point, the head of marketing at the bank, who had come down to the recording session 55 minutes late, proceeded to collapse on the floor, clearly in considerable pain, and clamping his hands to his ears, shouting ‘make it stop ahhh...’ As the music finished and the reverb died away, we were left staring open mouthed, shocked and not quite sure what to do. It turns out he had tinnitus (a painful condition where you suffer high pitched ringing in the ears) unfortunately the last high note played by the high strings had somehow triggered this painful reaction. Our quick thinking arranger hastily suggested swapping the last high string note to be a very low note, four octaves lower. No adverse reaction from the client who signed it off there an then, and left happy.
4. Rob, what’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on?
The day before the very first episode of Love Island went on air we had a very panicked phone call from one of the producers. The head exec at the top, had said; ‘I don’t like the music on the titles’. It was due to air, live, 10pm the next evening. Could we turn around a new package of music for them to use that next evening? We pulled out all of the stops, sent the new titles out to Mallorca and gave them a set of music that everyone loved.
5. Rob, why did you leave the Agency world to work at a Music Production Company?
Music has always been a part of my life. I studied it at college and also did a degree in music. However my first job was in a film production company and I ended up working in the TV department of an advertising agency for years so never had the opportunity to work in music. Briefing the music was always one of my favourite parts during the productions I worked on, so when the opportunity came about to work at A-MNEMONIC I jumped at the chance and have never looked back.
6. Rob, what does your job entail?
The main part of the job is to dissect the music brief; to really get inside the heads of the creatives so that we can convey that to our composers. I’m the main contact for all of our clients so I’m liaising with them in terms of budgeting, timings, arranging meetings, presentations and briefings etc.
7. Toby, who or what has influenced you?
I was lucky enough to see Michael Iceberg perform at Disneyland when I was 15. I’d never heard anything like it. Other big influencers are Jean Paul Goude, Afrika Bambaataa and Jerry Goldsmith.
8. Toby, what’s the best advice anyone’s given you?
A few years ago when I asked a creative director what he wanted from the music we were about to produce for him, he said ‘do whatever you like, just don’t make it boring.’
9. Toby, what’s the best advice you’ve given?
Never hold a plectrum between your teeth when you sneeze.
A-MNEMONIC Music is a boutique full service music production company based off Oxford Street W1. Formed in 2013 by composer Toby Jarvis and Agency TV Producer Rob Dunham, they provide original composed music for TV commercials, radio, entertainment and reality shows, sound-alikes and re-records for Advertising Agencies and TV Broadcasters around the world. Their team of composers, songwriters, record producers, orchestrators and arrangers have experience in producing music and sound in all styles and genres. A-MNEMONIC have a track record of producing some of the most up to date sounds for their clients, and also provide song searches, library music searches, rights negotiation through to formal licensing.