So you’ve emerged from that dark, all-absorbing rabbit hole of editing and your project ships in two days. Or one day. Or a few hours. But...you haven’t thought about music yet. What do you do?
We talked with our creative teams to come up with three simple tips to help in those moments when you need to find music but you’re running out of ti-
1) If you don’t know what you want, know what you don’t want
Do you want a song that has banjo in it? Does your video need a little metal music in the background? No? Believe it or not, this is a good place to start. Make a list of what the music shouldn’t sound like, and go from there. You’ll be surprised how much it can narrow down.
“Knowing what you don’t want is helpful because you can avoid falling in love with a song that is almost perfect," says Music Supervisor, David Katz. "This is important to avoid when you’re on a tight timeline. Normally if it’s a song we have stems for, we can customize it, but we require a minimum of 72 hours to turn around a first pass. So knowing what elements you don’t want will increase the potential to get a song licensed on a tight timeline."
2) Identify what you want the mood or tone of the project to be
Most music licensing websites will allow you to filter a search for songs by things like mood or emotion. When approaching the process, ask yourself the following questions, according to Producer, Katy Davidson:
Who’s the target audience?
What is the film supposed to feel like?
How are you supposed to feel at the end?
What’s the main takeaway of the project?
These are things that can help you identify the emotional tone of the project.
Or, you can view it even more simply: “Usually, you can think of it kind of black and white, like either you want a project to be optimistic, or maybe you want it to be a downer and more serious,” says David. “Or maybe you want it to start as being a downer and then open up to like an optimistic ending. Knowing those types of things helps.”
3) Be as specific as possible when you reach out about a song.
You’ve decided to reach out to a team of experts to help — first of all, it’s good you reached out! They’ll hustle so you don’t have to. Second of all, all of the details that you have and can give — we’re talking your timeline, your budget, your terms (i.e. web only for one year) will get things rolling faster by saving back and forth emails that suck up your already limited time.
“Sometimes it helps if they just come right out with the budget so we can get that negotiation rolling while we search,” says Katy. “It would be good for them to come prepared with some kind of creative brief, even if it’s just some kind of YouTube reference of a song, so that we can move quickly on finding music for them.”
David Katz seconded the importance of a reference song. “Usually, if you know what you want, like if you know you really want a Chet Faker-sounding song, then send us a ref to that,” he says. “That’s usually the best way to get quick results from us.”
4) Drink some water
Okay, our creatives didn’t mention this. But have you had a drink of water post rabbit hole times? You’re welcome.
Not to get all sales-y on you, but our team is here to help. If you’re looking for a pre-existing song, you can reach out to our Music Supervision Team at email@example.com. If you’re looking to have some new made from scratch, holler at our Original Music Producers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When tapping into the electronic genre, there are nearly unlimited avenues you can go down. Have you ever heard of Electroclash? What about Moombahton? That’s okay — this mixtape isn’t about those. Instead, we’re taking some time to focus on the pop side to electronic music, heavy on billowing, shimmering, synth-y goodness, big drum machine beats and undeniably infectious choruses.
Our A&R Team searched through our roster of artists to curate a handpicked list with some of the best and brightest electropop music out there. Hear for yourself in the bouncy, youthful “White Hot Heart” by Mint Julep, the pumped beats of Patternist’s “Far From Now” or the retro synth notes of The Boy and Sister Alma’s “Brightly." Great for fashion projects, event coverage or just your own one-person dance party, these electropop gem are sure to inspire.
"Finding the right things and the right approach to telling the stories to grab people — it really does affect everything." - John Pottenger
Co-founders of Match Frame Creative, Jay Irwin and John Pottenger, have spent the last four years as the yin to each other’s yang, working with clients to craft unique and genuine messages to their corporate videos.
But when the chance to work on the new documentary series, The Kindergarten came along, the two took the chance to step away from their norm to try something different, and despite their hesitation to jump into such a challenging undertaking — tackling a large subject that has landed them with more than 70 hours of footage to sift through — they found a new passion project. The Kindergarten, sees the two working to tell a story about the origin of Kindergarten as invented by Friedrich Froebel, and where the education system is at now.
Intrigued by the trailer to their new series — set to an driving, imaginative soundtrack by Marmoset artist, Keen Collective — we chatted with Jay and John about what they look for when putting music to picture, how to hone in on one message when storytelling, and their best piece of advice to their younger selves.
Can you tell me a little bit about the upcoming documentary, The Kindergarten?
Jay: We primarily focus on corporate work here at Match Frame, but one day a friend of ours came in the door and he did this pitch for us. He wanted to make a Kickstarter video to make a pitch video to raise more money to do a film, which would hopefully raise more money to do a series.
It's been two and a half years now since that encounter and it hasn't ever ceased to blow our minds about how far-reaching it is, how impactful it is and how deep it goes — the story just keeps getting bigger. We just keep uncovering more and more. We've become addicted and in love with the topic. What started off being like, "Well, this guy might be crazy, but we'll give it a shot."
That's awesome. It sounds like there's a lot there, and that's really cool to find a story that unfurls in front of you as you dig deeper. What was the biggest challenge in filming a film like this?
John: The biggest challenge for us is figuring out how to tell the story, because it really goes in so many directions. It touches the women's movement, it touches modern art, it touches, of course, every aspect of education, today's problems with education, from assessment to management to funding, teaching training — all kinds of things that are happening today that are not good. Politics, it just scatters everywhere. It's just like, "Where do you start? How do you do this story justice?" It's been extremely challenging. Some people know who Frank Lloyd Wright is, famous American architect.
Some people don't know who that is, but they're passionate about mathematics or crystallography or they're passionate about the women's movement. Pick one of those angles; you maybe isolate just one specific audience. Finding the right things and the right approach to telling the stories to grab as many people, it really does affect everything.
On the reverse side, what would you say is the most valuable thing that you've learned so far?
Jay: John and I both have kids, so obviously this became something deeply personal to us, not to mention our own schooling experience and all of that. It's just having the blinders taken off and understanding why education is what it is today and also giving a glimpse into what education could easily offer that it's not offering. Thinking about how that would make a difference in my life and knowing how it could make a difference in my daughters' lives. It's just a powerful thing.
Do you, after all of this research and filming and everything you've done, see a solution to the system?
John: There's just so many factors, but if you can understand where we came from and how we got to where we are today, then I think that informs your specific circumstances and you can guide things in your circumstance, if that makes sense.
Yeah, there's not one system or one option or one field that we could tap that would fix everything, but I think if people can embrace the greater topic and have the conversation around it all, then I think we'll be able to come up with solutions for a kid.
Awesome. Shifting gears, you mentioned that you make a lot of more corporate videos with Match Frame Creative and you help communicate and shape messages. What are some important things that people should know when approaching making corporate videos for a business?
John: I think it's so easy, especially in corporate work, to lose that core message and get lost in trying to manage the project or just getting it done or making it look a certain way or things like that, that you forget what that source message is.
That would be the key thing that I would say, is always go back to that source. Another way of recapping that: we say often, "What is the one-sentence takeaway that we want people to have when they watch this video?"
What do you usually look for when picking the music to go along with one of your projects? How do you know when the song is the right fit?
John: For me, it's the emotional appropriateness of the piece.
Jay: Yeah. Music is usually one of the big characters of the entire piece, so it's like casting. What are the major characters to your entire story?
John: It's the emotional parallel that you need to move the content forward. You can put a lot of stuff out there, but sometimes it drives the creativity. If we have a real creative idea, we need to now find music to match that, and sometimes it's the other way: sometimes we'll stumble across a song that inspires an idea that shapes our creative. Sometimes it's fun to approach it with our expectations and sometimes we come to it with an open mind and see if something can surprise us.
What makes a film or a commercial or a short great for you? Are there certain qualities that make it better in your eyes?
Jay: I'd say for me, personally, there's a whole bunch of factors. The experience, going through the entire experience with the client — was it a great experience? Were we able to really help them out in a significant way through the experience?
John: For me, what makes a good video is one that you can tell the person thought about the story and then successfully executed that. You can tell when the story is not there. It falls down, sometimes several times throughout the process.
If you were to meet your younger self, what advice would you give to yourself, maybe when you were just starting off filmmaking?
Jay: Oh man, I would definitely tell myself not to worry so much. If I would've had any idea that I would get paid to have as much fun as we get to have, I think life would've been a lot less stressful.
John: For me, it would be try and not do everything, but try to find fewer things and do them well instead of doing a lot of things sort of okay. Just pick one thing that you're really good at, focus in on that. If you know your focus and you know your goal, then stay with that. That's what I've taught myself.
Picture this: you’re driving by yourself from Italy to Amsterdam. You have no music, and the radio isn’t working (gasp!). What should you do?
A) Drive in silence. 12 hours isn’t so bad.
B) Listen to music IN YOUR MIND. That’ll work, right?
C) Start brainstorming ideas for your next album by singing into your phone.
For singer and guitarist, Lizzy Ellison, the answer was C. The result will soon be heard on Cardioid’s second album release, which Ellison wrote mostly on a recent, music-less road trip in Europe. Formerly of Portland-based group, Radiation City, Ellison first started working on her own project, Cardioid, in summer of 2014, teaming up with drummer and producer (and former member of Unknown Mortal Orchestra), Riley Geare. Together, the two created their first release, the dreamy rock of this year's Parts Dept., a genre-spanning album inspired by different eras that covers the universal theme of love, relationships, and learning to be yourself.
We chatted with Ellison about the record’s genre-spanning sound, when her best ideas usually come to her and how she knows when a song is complete.
Marmoset: Can you tell us a little bit about Cardioid and how it started?
Lizzy Ellison: In the summer of 2014, I had started to write stuff on guitar. Stuff happening within the band allowed me to have some time to have to myself, and I approached Riley about helping me out with recording them. They were super bare ideas and I truly did not know how to play guitar at the time so it was very arduous, but we got the nine songs demoed out. Shortly thereafter I stopped working with him and we got back into Radiation City-land and forgot about it.
And then, last summer I got back from our European tour and approached Riley again and said, "Hey, I really want to get back into this and I've been playing more guitar. I feel a little bit more equipped" and we listened to the stuff that we had done two years prior and he was like, "I think we can use all of this." So we basically just built off of all of those demos and then throughout the next four or five months fine tuned things, got it mastered and then Radiation City broke up and I decided to put the record out a couple months later, just to have a piece of art that I had made on my own.
It sounds like you and Riley of you collaborate together pretty well. What does a successful collaboration look like to you?
Well, I think that with the previous project it was like, how can we write together in a democratic way where everybody feels like their voices are being heard and ideas are being executed? It's really hard to do that when everybody's really good at songwriting, because inevitably somebody's idea gets lost in the shuffle. With this project, I wanted to work with Riley more in a engineer/producer role. He played drums on all the stuff and any guitar stuff that I wasn't great at, he would do. But, I think that any collaborative process for musicians or artists really can vary depending on what you want and in this case, I wanted someone to just be able to hear my ideas without it being overly critical. More in a matter of fact way like, "Well, why don't you try playing it like this." Especially because I didn't really know what I was doing with the guitar.
I do all of the song writing and he lends an ear for a more...I don't want to say doubtful, but just how to expand on an idea without totally changing it. I think that's why it works with us.
Your album, Parts Dept., spans a lot of different genres, but overall it's really cohesive and fun to listen to. Can you talk about the decision to touch on different genres or where that came from?
When I started writing it, I had no concept that it would even be a record. But, eventually I was like, every song is sort of about the same thing: being in a relationship, trying to figure out how that works, who you are within that, and I thought, I like the idea that every song came from a genre but it all said the same thing, and being able to highlight that no matter what type of music you're playing and the message can still resonate equally.
What is one lyric that people might have missed on the album or not like hear on the first time that you wish everyone would hear?
On “Rainbow Road” the hook is, "You got me where you want me, too much can make you happy / We made the days grow longer, push up the front, be merry" and I think because the song is pretty solemn, you might not get the sort of...not sarcasm, but it's like, "Oh this is too good, push it away." "Oh, this is making me feel too happy, it's too good to be true." I think that we don't give ourselves enough credit when it comes to being happy and how important it is to embrace that when we do find it.
When do your best ideas usually hit you?
When I'm driving. A lot of this new record that we're working on came while I was...after Radiation City had toured in Europe last year, I decided to stay. I rented a car in Amsterdam and drove down to Italy. A friend was with me so that was more like travel fun times. And then when I dropped him off at the airport in Italy, I drove back to Amsterdam, which is a 12 hour drive. I don't have music on my phone, and the radio was hard to understand because it was in different languages, so I just set up my phone Bluetooth to the car and if I had ideas, I would just sing into the car and it would record it. So for 12 hours basically, that's what I did. I got lost in Switzerland, probably because I wasn't paying attention while I was singing.
How do you know when a song is complete?
I have to be able to listen to the whole thing and feel moved the entire way. It's almost like a gauge that goes off. If it's riding high the whole time, then it's good. If it's riding high and then all of a sudden it gets to the bridge and it's not pulling me in anymore, then I'll work on the bridge until it gets on the same level as everything else. Or if there's a word that feels out of place, I'll fix that.
For me, it has to feel like whatever the message is, is conveyed through whatever chords I'm playing, through the atmosphere and just through the overall vibe of the song. And, so it could be super stripped down and minimal but still feel finished.
It can be hard to keep track of all of the shows coming through town — that’s why each month, we pull together a list of some of the artists from our community who are on tour. This month sees the moody synth pop of Small Million, the dark, cinematic hip hop of Onry Ozzborn, and the empowering pop rock of Sherwood (plus more) hitting a stage near you soon. Check out some of the show details below — we’ll see you there!
NEW YORK CITY
Friday, October 27th at Irving Plaza.
8pm. $27.50. 16+.
Saturday, October 28th at The Regent Theater.
6pm, $22.50-$28, 18+.
Sunday, October 22nd at The Elbo Room.
Thursday, October 19th at Cornerstone Berkeley.
8:30pm. $18-$20. 21+.